Saturday, January 5, 2013

Quelques things I miss about France

I actually originally wrote this post over the summer, but never actually posted it, so I thought I would do so now.  This is by no means an extensive list, and it is in no particular order.  It just represents some of my random musings one day when bored at work.  While I do miss all of these things, there are a lot of other things I miss too (and quite a few things I don't miss at all...can we say La Poste and La Préfecture!).  But this is not to say that there aren't tons of things that I miss about the US when I am in France, as anyone who has read my blog should know!

1. Wine – tons of good and inexpensive wine everywhere. Here in the US I find the wine to be much more expensive and generally not as good. Not to mention how lost I feel here in the US when it comes to wine…I know my wines by regions of France not by grape varietals!

2. Cheese – even though I always miss cheddar when I’m in France, and sometimes cave in and buy it at the supermarché even though it costs a fortune, here in the US the cheese selection is so limited and so disappointing. I miss choosing from hundreds of different cheeses in the supermarché. In an American grocery store I feel like the only real choices are between cheddar, Colby and Monterey jack, with some basic Italian cheeses thrown in the mix. It’s impossible to find a good French cheese unless you want the crappy, flavorless brie or camembert that they try to pass of as cheese here. I’m missing all the wonderful chèvres, le comté, les bleus, St. Marcellin (one of my personal favorites), Rocamadour, etc.

3. Charcuterie – as healthy as this list is sounding right now, I can’t help but mention how much I’ve even been missing charcuterie. In the US there is nothing that even compares, hell, I can’t even think of a good translation for the word. Sure we have some Italian salami and we sell sliced meats, generally for sandwiches, but where is all the saucisson sec in tons of different styles, the pâtés, the dried chorizos, the dried hams, etc. This is making me hungry!

4. Vacation – I miss having a decent amount of paid vacation time that is not actually “PTO time” which is a mix of vacation and sick days. I miss having interesting, exciting and culturally diverse places to go. I miss being able to take a weekend trip that doesn’t cost a fortune because there are no real “budget” airlines in America and hotels always cost a fortune. Lionel and I are both dying for a vacation as this is by far the longest we have gone without at least a week off! Sometimes I really have to wonder what is supposed to be so great about the US!

5. Travel – I definitely miss the easy and inexpensive travel opportunities both around Europe/North Africa and around France. The US just doesn’t interest me as much and it is so expensive to travel around here. I’m really missing cheap flights with the likes of Easyjet, Ryanair, etc, the convenience and ease of train travel, the possibility of finding inexpensive hotels and the fact that almost anywhere you go is interesting culturally, historically, architecturally or in some other way.

6. Public Transportation – I know, I said time and again that I hated the metro, but in all reality I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the metro. I hate it when it’s crowded or not functioning properly or during an RATP strike or when I have to spend about 24 hrs per week on it, as I used to do as an English teacher. But I love its speed and convenience, not having to own cars and deal with all the associated expenses, being able to sit back and read a book on the way to work rather than fight my way through traffic while listening to crappy talk radio and dealing with incompetent drivers. I also sorely miss public transportation at night when we want to go out for drinks. We don’t want to end up with a DUI but we also all want to be able to have fun. Not to mention all the environmental benefits of public transportation…

7. Picnics on the Seine – need I say more?  Springs and summers in France are always made better with a bottle or two of wine and an impromptu picnic on the banks of the Seine!

8. Bercy Village – anyone who has followed my blog for awhile knows how much I love Bercy Village.  It’s one of my favorite places in Paris, especially Nicolas, my favorite wine chain store/wine bar in France!  This particular Nicolas has a great wine bar with excellent deals on bottles of wine to be enjoyed en terrasse, often with a delicious cheese plate, good friends, great conversation and incredible people watching.  

9. BBQs at my apartment – I love entertaining and having friends over for good food, drink and conversation.  It’s a lot harder for me to pull anything like this off in the States ever.  I haven’t even been able to host my own barbecue since the last time we had one in France…

10. My Apartment – I actually really miss our little apartment with it’s private garden and French quirks.

11. Variety and Low Cost of Food – Lionel and I are both missing cheaper the cheaper fresh food we could find in France and the large variety of different foods from all over the world that were available to us in Paris.  Not to mention missing the large variety of different cheeses and kinds of meat.  Let’s just say that here in Ohio finding duck or lamb or anything more exotic than chicken, beef and pork is really difficult and if you do succeed, the price will literally make you cry!

12. Good Coffee – I have spent the past year and a month dreaming of espresso.  As much as I would drink Starbucks in France, mostly as a comfortable place to kill the time between English lessons, I really enjoy the espresso whether out of a machine at one of the company’s where I was teaching or in a café or after a good meal.  Now I just dream of espressos and every morning when I go to the miserable coffee machine at my work and fill up my mug with the nasty coffee, I think about how much I would kill to have a strong, thick little shot of caffeinated heaven.

13. Our Tiny Old Car – I don’t know why but I do really miss the beat up little old thing.  Every time I get into my Ford Fiesta (one of the smallest, reasonably priced cars on the American market) it just feels overwhelmingly big to me and it seems ridiculous to be driving such a large car just to get myself to work every day.  And every time I look at it I can’t get over how big it seems.  Now keep in mind, I have had this car for over a year now and this still strikes me as weird.  You would think I would have gotten over it by now, but nope.  I guess I got more used to small European cars than I had originally thought!

14.  Our Family and Friends – While I love and care deeply about all of our family and friends here, I also miss our family and friends there.

 So what do you miss most about your home country or your adopted country when away?


  1. Interesting post...I seem to only miss the cheap wine and vacation time when I'm in Canada.

    It seems like you are really looking forward to moving back, and I'm thrilled for you. Just be careful not to over romanticize France or you'll be disappointed all over again after a few months of living back here.

  2. I am really looking forward to moving back. But I'm not too worried about over romanticizing France...after having spent 6 years of my life there I'm pretty aware of the pros and cons. It's just Lionel and I have come to the realization that we are more open to living with the cons of France than the cons of America. Besides, all I have to do is read over my old blog posts and there's no chance of me over romanticizing France :)

    And thanks for the inspiration...your comment has inspired my next blog post!