Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cross-cultural Clips 2

When I published my first Cross-cultural Clips post over six months ago, I thought it was a great idea and something I could carry on every month. I'm always collecting links to "articles of interest for La France Profonde," but time flies by and the articles get out of date. And anyway, it's a lot more fun to post cool photos of Aveyron.


But since I'm working from my laptop computer -- my desktop computer has mysteriously lost its Internet connection -- I have a manageable link list, one that can actually be perused without screaming "Abandon hope all ye who enter!" And from it, I have access to a few cross-cultural clips that should be of interest to expats, Francophiles and others inclined to compare cultures:


1. Here's a basic question for fellow expats: are you happy with your move?

According to a Dec. 20th article from Telegraph.co.uk, 80% of us are. Spain seems to be the best destination for expat bliss: over 90% of British expats say they are happy with their move there. However, "the unhappiest emigrants were in France...with nearly 19%...disappointed with their new life."


2. By now most France blog readers know that the smoking ban in cafés and restaurants has taken effect.

Personally, I've been waiting for this day for years, and one of my New Year's resolutions is to get back into the habit of frequenting cafés and restaurants that I have dropped because of smoke issues. I hope most non-smokers in France will do the same to help prove that the ban was a good idea, not only healthwise but commercially.


3. Now that the smoking issue is under control, I can turn my concern to drinking or, more specifically, "le binge drinking."

I used to think France had figured it out as far as drinking, especially among young people, was concerned: no taboos, an early drinking age (16), openness with parents -- all ingredients which led to responsible drinking for fun rather than irresponsible drinking to get drunk. But the tide is turning, with young French people increasingly adopting "the British model" for their forays with alcohol. God save us!

4. Have you noticed more service with a smile in France these days?

I think there's been a gradual improvement over the past ten years or so, but lately I've heard even more "Bonjour Madame!" as soon as I go into a shop and "Merci! Bonne journée!" when I leave -- whether I've bought anything or not. Apparently, though, there is still progrès à faire on the French service report card. "Foreigners rank France's cultural attractions and food as its top draws while hospitality gets the last spot on the list," reports Brigitte Hagemann on Dec. 22 2007 for Agence France Presse.

Have a good day! And if you're one of the unhappy expats here in France, remember that Spain is right across the border!

16 comments:

Tinsie said...

I didn't know there was a smoking ban in France! Good job I read your blog ;-)

We've just returned from Greece where people still smoke in cafes and restaurants and I thought it was sooooo strange. It's amazing how easily you get used to living in a smoke-free environment. The smoking ban took effect in England just a few months back and I almost can't remember what it was like before!

Betty C. said...

Tinsie, the first phase of the ban actually started one year ago with banning smoking in all public places except restaurants, cafés and bars. Up until then, I was still putting up with smoke in the faculty room at work! The food purveyors got an extra year to adjust. But the party's over now!

I can't wait to go into restaurants without worrying about smelling smoky!

tut-tut said...

Are you sure people will comply with the nonsmoking? Several years ago, I saw a woman under the Pas de Fume sign in a train station, puffing away like nobody's business!

katiez said...

Perhaps expats are happier in Spain because they see sunshine. I haven't seen any in weeks...
It was so strange when we moved to Andorra and the bank tellers would be smoking at their stations....
I wonder if they (Andorra) will ever ban smoking....

Betty C. said...

Katie, We had lovely Christmas holidays but now the weather is awful. It's kind of depressing for everybody to go back to work and school AND have to face this dreadful grey weather. Sigh.

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Interesting post, Betty! :)

nodamnblog said...

Hooray for the non-smoking laws! There may be a few hard-core rebels, but with hefty fines imposable on the owner of the establishment as well as the smoker, they aren't going to be very popular!

La Belette Rouge said...

Fantastic post! I especially enjoyed the expat statistics. Having lives in sunny California for many years, I really appreciate the beauty of a gray and sunless day. I live in Chicago now and we too just started a no smoking band and we are also having a string of days that are very gray and sunfree.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

The smoking ban is such a plus. Coming from California, I had a hard time while we lived in England until they banned smoking in public places. I am all for personal freedoms, but smoking in public places gets to me.

As for expat life...we were very pleased with our life in England. As for Germany, it's been a bit rough at the start, but it's growing on us...and it is also too early in the game to tell :)

Colleen said...

I am a bit surprised with the 19% stat of disappointed Brits. Still, this is a faily low number.

Regarding the smoking ban, I for one am happy about it.

French for a While said...

We'rd happy so far -- but then again it's only been 4 months. But, like you, we think the new smoking ban will make our experience even better.

Randal Graves said...

Yikes, British-style drinking? Watch for a nice upturn in Ligue 1 hooliganism!

Anne Corrons said...

Happy new year to you! Have fin in Aveyron in 2008 without cigarettes in the bars!!!!!! We hope to go back to France in one year.

b said...

Thank you so much for sharing these tidbits with us. As I'm sure you already realize, there are so many of us wannabe expats who love hearing about your life in France. You always have such a lovely way of describing/discussing things!

I too am more than okay with the smoking ban, as I've never been a smoker! Thanks again. :)

ParisBreakfasts said...

I've never been a smoker but I never minded much seeing the French smoke- like bread & butter. It's hard to imagine the change.
My understanding regarding living in France is, if you're an enterprising non-French person who wants to start a small business EVERYTHING is stacked against you.
Free enterprise is not encouraged. I would love to hear that I am wrong on this.
Carolg

Betty C. said...

I can't tell you you're wrong on this Carolg, sorry. My husband is a self-employed consultant and is more or less making it, if that is of any encouragement. But the financial return on time investment is almost ludicrous.