When I was first married I lived in Paris. A few years later my French Husband was promoted with his business to Marseille. The first few things I noticed were:
The smell of pine trees.
That women's dress necklines drop two inches. Cleavage was just another fashion statement.
The Mistral (a strong cold wind, famous in the south of France), seemed to blow away the Parisian accent, which made the French I knew sounded altogether differently.
Whenever anyone comes and stays with us in France, and they often do since we live in a place that is on the dream list of most, it is only natural that the differences between the two countries are talked about. I find myself defending France, or I should say, explaining the culture differences...
Take cars, cars do not have the same meaning as they do in the USA. Having a nice car simply means you have a nice car. Status isn't attached to it as strongly as it is in the States. Why have a big expensive car in France when you have to drive it and park it in teeny tiny places?
Why aren't there ice cubes?
Where are the toilets when you are out and about?
Why do people drive like crazy people on a suicide mission?
Why do children seem so well behaved?
You guys eat so much why aren't you fat?
3, 20 Euros a kilo.
4 dollars, for 2.2 pounds.
In the beginning, when speaking French was something I could not do, yet needed desperately I memorised all the words I knew that were French
and tried to use them when I could...
A la carte,
A la mode,
and moreso, every word that ended in 'TION as in most cases those words that ended in 'TION meant the same thing in English as they did in French.
Super! is Super in French too! Which came in handy.
How are you? Super.
Do you like it? Super.
How is your meal? Super.
Did you have a good time? Super.
Isn't it beautiful? Super.
Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas.
"It's just one step from the sublime to the ridiculous."
Avoir le cafard Avoir le cafard (to have the cockroach)
To be down in the dumps; have the blues
Another little surprise when I first arrived in France was how the hours were displayed.
One through twelve, such as:
and so, on and so forth to 12h00, are the morning hours.
and so, on and so forth until 24h00, are the evening hours.
Forget 12 am or 12 pm.
Eclaboussure - French verb,
The perfect man.
Avoir le démon de midi (To have the midday demon)
Means: To have a midlife crisis.
I took a dictionary with me everywhere I went. Nowadays, the advantage of wireless phones makes certain things easier when traveling and living abroad. The other day at the pharmacy I couldn't think of a word I wanted to use so I looked it up on my cell phone, had it translated and showed the pharmacist.
Though twenty some years ago, a dictionary and sign language was what I had.
I bought sour milk instead of milk, flour instead of sugar... and only spices I could open and smell, smell was a language I knew by heart.
Zut alors! (no translation, it is one of French Husband's mother's favorite expression and one that I first learned.)