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Hello French expat ladies!!! I have been living in France for 2 years now. What have been some of your biggest challenges in France with etiquette, customs, cultural differences, etc. ? What do you know now that you wish you had known upon moving? :)
 

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I haven't moved there yet, but this sounds like it would be a fantastic source of info. Good luck! I'd love to see it once you get started.
 

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Hey chienchaud! (clever name, btw!) When are you planning on moving here? Will it be for work? <snip>

And someone preparing to move to France, what are some of the big questions you have? It'd be great to hear from you!

THanks, and have a lovely evening!
 

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big questions re moving to france

Hey chienchaud! (clever name, btw!) When are you planning on moving here? Will it be for work? <snip>

And someone preparing to move to France, what are some of the big questions you have? It'd be great to hear from you!

THanks, and have a lovely evening!
Hi,
I am in Australia, and considering France. Questions I have are: have the locals been as accepting of you now you have moved as they are charming and friendly to you as a tourist?
How critical is fluent french language prior to moving? Is it possible to get work (we are well qualified, and have excellent work in Asutralia).
 

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Hi Sonia,
The Language Issue comes up all the time - and I have to say that it is critical for you to have at least a conversational level of French if you expect to be able to find a job here. (OK, it depends a bit on the type of job you're looking for.)

As far as acceptance by the locals - "it depends". I'm married to a Frenchman and that gives you a certain "in" as far as getting to know people. But there is a different protocol here for making new friends and acquaintances and until you learn it, you can feel pretty isolated.

I've also heard lots of complaints from French people about "the Brits" (by which they mean most anglophones) who "refuse to learn French" and who "expect us to speak English." That feeling is especially heavy outside the main cities and away from the tourist traps. You have to counter that image by joking that you're "not that way at all." And by making the effort by speaking French as much as possible, no matter how embarrassing.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi Bev!

We're going to Chamonix for a visit in September and want to try our basic, beginning French out. Is it not too embarrassing to try to speak French, even if all we can only say is "I have a cat", "Nous aimons faire du ski"
and "I would like chicken"?
We're trying to learn French and have a lot of time to get better at it before we retire, but I'm not sure if we know enough right now to be able to converse on our trip in September. Would the French people know that we are at least trying to speak French, even if it is basic, basic, 'We have a brown house' sort of thing? By September, we should be able to say more than "Où sont les toilettes, s'il vous plaît?".
We're having a LOT of trouble understanding what someone says in French, but can read it so much better. At the local Alliance Francaise where we takae weekly lessons, one guy came up to us and said something in French and I had no clue. My teacher was like "Oh, come on!! You know that!". Found out that all he said was 'it is a pleasure to meet you'. I was embarrassed. I probably would has known what he said if it were written down. I don't have any real understanding of what someone is saying, though. Would subscribing to TV5Monde be useful or way over my head to where I wouldn't catch anything?? I barely made it out of 2 semesters of Spanish in college, so I really hope that I can do this. I'm trying!
 

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Chien chaud - don't worry, EVERYONE starts out like that when they first arrive in France. And understanding what people say to you is the first problem everyone encounters. The French speak their own language very fast (then again, so do the Brits and Americans!).

You make a complete ass out of yourself at first. But if you just get used to asking people to either repeat, slow down or rephrase and ultimately you get the communication across. My rule of thumb has always been: start out in French, no matter how badly you speak it. If the other person speaks English, they'll suggest it when they can't understand anything you're saying. (Did I mention you get really good at charades, too?)

"Où sont les toilettes" is one of the key phrases. A few of the others you mentioned maybe no so much. (Though "I'll have the chicken" is probably a good one when it comes to dining out - as long as you actually like chicken.) Take a tip from Polly Platt (author of "French or Foe?") and practice "Excusez-moi de vous déranger, mais pouvez-vous m'aider?" Much of her other "etiquette" advice is rubbish, or at least only applicable in certain quarters in Paris where you are hobnobbing with deposed royalty or members of the diplomatic service, but that one phrase is worth the price of her book!

Oh, the TV5 Monde is an interesting idea. Just be careful - the French subtitle Canadian programs and films on TV5 because it's Canadian French and not French French. You may pick up some "funny" accents and some Canadian or Belgian localisms that the French look down on. Also be aware that the French subtitles aren't always quite the same as what is actually being said. The French tend to be wordy and often have to shorten the subtitles considerably to get them to fit on the screen or to give you a chance to read them before the scene shifts. (Can you tell that I tried using TV5 for a while to take advantage of the subtitles?)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Good phrase to know. I was able to sort of understand the second part of it, so I used Google translate for the first. I'll get better. You are so right - beling polite goes farther with folks than being a jerk. I know basic present, past tense, and future tense for very simple (about 20) verbs, but can't understand them at all if someone speaks to me at all. I'm from the Southern US, from western Tennessee, so I normally speak ******* instead of correct English. (Ex - "I don't got any/no pens to give you". Even in professional settings, this is fully acceptable, in even important meetings). Sad, huh? I have a hard enough time with English words over two syllables. :) Really, my grammer isn't that bad, but it's amazing what is acceptable back in Tennessee.
Do the French have a good sense of humor? Can I tell stupid jokes and they will laugh with me? (and at me. That's ok, too.)
 

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Biggest Challenges in France

Hello French expat ladies!!! I have been living in France for 2 years now. What have been some of your biggest challenges in France with etiquette, customs, cultural differences, etc. ? What do you know now that you wish you had known upon moving? :)
What an interesting question! I am watching the responses on this one! Here's one very small tip - if you go do dinner with French people be prepared to eat LATE! Every time we go out with our French friends or to neighbours' homes we never sit down to eat before 10.00 pm. We do get offered plenty to drink though and occasionally but not always canapes. So have a quick bite before you go - I know it defeats the object but...! I'm thinking of more off the wall tips... I may be back!
 

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ARGH! 10pm for dinner?? I'm in bed every night by 8:30 or 9pm! Then again, I'm up at 5am to get ready for work every morning. That will probably change, though. Aren't they tired when they go to work the next day after staying up so late? I'd be a walking zombie.
 

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Do the French have a good sense of humor? Can I tell stupid jokes and they will laugh with me? (and at me. That's ok, too.)
Oooh, well now you've opened up a right can of worms! French humor is different from US humor. (Then again, so is English humor, German humor, etc. etc.) Some jokes translate and others don't. There are very popular humorists here in France I find simply lame (even when I actually understand them) and others who are genuinely funny (to me, anyhow).

The French don't really do self-deprecating humor, though. You have to be careful with that, because sometimes you just come off as "weird" if you're telling jokes where you're the butt of the story. I guess the moral is, just don't try too hard to be funny.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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ARGH! 10pm for dinner?? I'm in bed every night by 8:30 or 9pm! Then again, I'm up at 5am to get ready for work every morning. That will probably change, though. Aren't they tired when they go to work the next day after staying up so late? I'd be a walking zombie.
Most restaurants in France don't open for dinner until at least 7:30pm (and that's considered kind of early). Eight or nine is probably more usual.

A formal dinner or dinner party will usually start at 8 or 8:30 with apero (drinks) and for some unknown reason they stretch out the courses (often with "entertainment" between courses) to make things last until at least midnight. A very proper Parisien friend of mine insists that it's "rude" to even try to leave a dinner party before midnight. But dinner parties are usually reserved for the weekends.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Bev,
Any idea how I can tell Canadian French from French French?
A friend of mine described Canadian French as being way more nasal than French French. Use of the sh-- word instead of "merde" is definitely Canadian. And if there are French subtitles on TV5, it's probably Canadian.

I've heard different accounts of this, but if you hear "septante" "octante" and "nonante" for soixante-dix, quatre-vingt and quatre-vingt-dix, then it's either Canadian or Belgian.

After you've been in France a while, you can hear a Canadian accent a mile away. I still can't hear a Belgian accent, though sometimes I'll recognize that the French sounds "funny."
Cheers,
Bev
 

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A friend of mine described Canadian French as being way more nasal than French French. Use of the sh-- word instead of "merde" is definitely Canadian. And if there are French subtitles on TV5, it's probably Canadian.

I've heard different accounts of this, but if you hear "septante" "octante" and "nonante" for soixante-dix, quatre-vingt and quatre-vingt-dix, then it's either Canadian or Belgian.
Bev - You know, I think that I know what you mean. I took a short continuing ed class here from a person who would teach 'septante' and 'nonante', and 'déjeuner' for breakfast instead of 'petit déjeuner'. Found out later that she was from Quebec and was actually teaching Canadian French and figured that noone would know the difference. Luckily, it was just a 1 month class that I wanted to attend because it was cheap. I stuck with my private lessons teacher who is from Nice.
 

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You can hear an almost American accent in Canadian French...it irks me now that I'm used to only hearing and speaking French French, have a listen to this:

The Canadian accent is particularly stressed in this TV show, that's why it's a good example, but not all Canadians have such a strong accent. My husband (who is French) loves watching this, not only is it funny but the accent adds to the comical effect.

Canadian French speakers also throw in English words here and there.
 

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Thanks for sharing that. Though I hear a real "mélange" of accents - Canadian mixed with several of the various "ethnic" groups in Canada. One of the funny bits, though, is that the background kitchen looks very much like the kitchen I've seen in some Canadian cooking show that is broadcast here on one of the satellite channels (and may have been lifted from the videos of that).

Ocean Spray ran an ad here in France for its Cranberry Juice, with two guys speaking Canadian French. I found it hilarious, but that's the "New England" sense of humor I grew up with. I've also seen several comments saying that the accent was good, but the vocabulary was altered for the French audience. (Cranberries in Canada are "canneberges" or so I hear.)

Aha, finally found it! This is a genuine "canneberge" ad from Ocean Spray for and by the Quebequois: Pub Québec - Ocean Spray aux canneberges - YouTube
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Aha, finally found it! This is a genuine "canneberge" ad from Ocean Spray for and by the Quebequois: Pub Québec - Ocean Spray aux canneberges - YouTube
Cheers,
Bev
I could just imagine your excitement upon finding it...Youtube is so amazing :D
Haha, that's a great ad! We have Ocean Spray in Australia, and these same guys appear on the Australian ad but speaking English !!! Oh, globalisation...

hmmm, I think it's the same man, maybe he's just a bit older:
 

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Wow, talk about thread drift! Oh well...

I thought at first that the guys doing the ad here in France were the same guys who did the ads I saw back in the US - but on closer investigation I think they just kinda look alike. I'm from the Boston area, where they definitely grow cranberries, so I think they use actors who have (or can do) authentic New England accents.

Over here in France, all the good New England stuff I crave seems to come from Canada - like maple syrup and cranberries. Seems a bit of a heresy to me, but I have nothing against the Canadians. :love:
Cheers,
Bev
 

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In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.
Mark Twain
 
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