There is just something so romantic about daily life in Paris– the cafés, the shopping, the delicious French food. Things seem to move a little slower here, people walk more slowly and tend to be in less of a rush. According to one article by the BBC, the French work the least in the EU after Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway, averaging at about a 35-hour work week.
Certainly, we can’t make any gross generalizations, and there surely are some overworked Parisians out there, but I have noticed that French culture seems to be a more mindful one than American culture. Meals can last for hours at a time, and French people indulge in rich food in moderation without coming close to the 34% rate of obesity in America (it’s 17% in France, for the record).
While I definitely appreciate the tendency to work less and savor good food in moderation, there are some aspects of French culture that are more difficult to get used to. In Paris, people don’t really smile as much and aren’t as friendly on the street as they are in the U.S. What’s more, their pride for their culture can sometimes be interpreted as rudeness, and on more than one occasion, I’ve had a store person be rude to me when I’ve used my less than perfect French with them.
In my first few weeks here, I’ve begun to see how daily life here is different than what I’m used to, and I’ve picked up things that the French do that I prefer to the American way. Nonetheless, I have to say I miss the friendly Midwesterners and big portions of Chicago.