Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The French Lifestyle

Now that things have calmed down a bit I’m finally able to observe the world around me rather than freaking out about missing my metro stop. I’ve come to the conclusion the French lifestyle is entirely different than the American lifestyle. You may be thinking well duh but living here has only strengthened by beliefs.
First, Paris is such a walking city with assessable public transportation. Sure there are buses in Orange County and Los Angeles but would you really count on OCTA to get you where you needed to go? Unless your destination happened to be right next to a stop you most likely wouldn’t. But here I can get ANYWHERE on the metro and when that’s not available there is always the bus system. It’s reliable, extensive and clean.
Another difference is the way people present themselves. In America it’s common to see a group of kids (middle and high schools and even college) dressed in exactly the same outfit – well the color of the Abercrombie polo may differ but pretty much the same. Even at UCLA the majority of the campus is wearing some sort of Bear Wear. Here it’s much more about individuality and expressing yourself. Clothes send a message about who you are and the French are much keener on that. I like seeing the creative outfits – I’ve thought about taking pictures on the streets but that may be weird (maybe eventually I’ll feel up to doing that). People in America tend to be much flashier with their clothes, accessories (jewelry and handbags especially) but that’s not the case here. At home I would drool over all the rocks I saw but I have yet to see any sort of diamond ring here (they all wear simple bands). Graphic tees promoting certain brands are all the rage in America but no one wears those here. The only people who flaunt their clothing brands in France are Americans. Not saying there is anything wrong doing so but spending 225 dollars (approximately 173 Euros) on a pair of jeans won’t guarantee they fit you right or that you should be flashing that.
French are far more obsessed with good food and good wine than America. People love to eat out (and not at chain restaurants like Outback, Macaroni Grill or CPK – all my favorites that I miss dearly, but rather cute bistros). Walking to class and around the city, cafes are always busy with people meeting for a meal or just a drink. The French are taught to enjoy their food and sip their wine from a young age. Maybe that’s why they’re so fit – they eat slowly and enjoy every bite. Consequently partying is a bit different here than at home. Sure people go out and drink copious amounts of alcohol but it’s not every college student’s dream (that’s for middle schoolers –ha). They like to go out for a glass of wine or a drink. That’s not to say there is no party scene here because there definitely is it’s just completely different.
All in all, the French lifestyle is structured completely differently than the American lifestyle. Most people in Paris don’t own cars (and can use all that money on something more exciting). The two countries have vastly different priorities. The French lead far simpler lives. They are more concerned with living a full life (good friends, fun and food) while Americans have to have the best (biggest house/cars/diamonds). Maybe I’m generalizing a bit too much but I do see the differences.


Anonymous said...


<3 Matt

Anonymous said...

Paris sounds wonderful. I would fit right in I'm sure. Just wear a wedding band, don't like to advertise designer clothes and love good food and conversation. lol You are very lucky to have such an experience.

T. said...

Hello smart Amercian girl,

I loved your column, and this is exactly what I was looking for :
I live in Paris and I am in full preparation of a thesis dealing of the way Americans see Paris, and all the clichés which you have on this city, positive ones as negative.

I wondered : would you be ok for an interview ?
Here is my email address :
thanx for your answer !

Anonymous said...

you should add pictures of the city, your school etc, im glad i found this page very interesting,
Please write more about paris and the life-style , im very interested and im sure many others are too.

SHRM said...

I totally agree with this article.

Europeans especially French people can enjoy life with the simplest, yet very elegant ways.

FIFI said...

Being a French girl myself (born and raised in Paris) I couldn't agree more. In fact, a few days ago, I wrote something very similar on my blog.
Though I have been living in the States for many years I have never conformed to the "dress code" of this beautiful country.
Hope you keep enjoying all the beauty Paris offers.
A bientot!

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm from India...
I'm learning french as a language in my school and we have a project on any topic related to France and when I saw your blog and so many people who are actually from france commenting here I thought "what better place than here to do some research and actually ask you guys some questions!"
Well, firstly i really can't think of a topic coz everyone has already chosen all the cliched topics lyk cheese. vines, festivals,etc. and I want a different topic... can anyone help me out... reading this blog i think i can do my project on something like "A normal day in a French city'... what do you guys think?... Do respond