Life has been crazy busy here over the last month!
“Les vacances” has begun. This is the summer vacation for students and MANY people use this as their holiday time. The French work to live, not live to work (joie de vivre). Family and leisure time is très important! It lasts from July 8 through August 15. We were told things would be very quiet here during this period, but the city still seems pretty lively.
Some businesses close their doors for three weeks up to the entire vacance period. Buses run on reduced schedules. Many government services are reduced. The French know this is not the time to get things done as so many people are gone.
In preparation for les vacances, the stores stock many vacances workbooks and learning game sets for parents to use with their children while recreating. As a teacher, that makes my heart happy!
This is also the time stores clear their inventory with huge “soldés” (sales) in preparation for the new season and “rentrée” which is the term for returning to school (Sept. 1) and work.
We are still waiting for our required administrative appointment notification which is to occur within three months of our arrival. Given that this is during les vacances, we anticipate a later appointment. We are supposed to go to the regional Office Français de l’Immigration et Integration (OFII) where we will have chest x-rays and have an interview. OFII will send us our appointment and we must attend, so until this arrives, we can’t make any travel plans. We know if we do, that is when OFII will make the appointment. So we wait.
Now, for some amusing anecdotes about things that are different here…
Always greet all workers (bus drivers, store clerks, etc.) with with a lilting “Bonjour!” and depart with a polite “bonne journée” and “au revoir” as you leave. I love this, because almost everyone responds with in kind with a sincere smile.
This courtesy serves to say that you see the person and acknowledge their position as a peer. To leave out the greeting can result in terse assistance or none at all.
When going to to the outdoor markets, do not touch the plants or produce. Point to what you want and the vendor will gather the items then wrap them nicely and present them to you. Expect a long line at the preferred stalls and wait patiently for your turn.
When going to the doctor or hospital, you will know in advance what you will pay. (As opposed to my recent US colonoscopy which so far has so far totaled $9,500 - new bills keep arriving!) All doctor visits are 25€ and most appointments can be scheduled via one app. I had a surprise growth in my eyelid and was referred to a lid specialist 50€. He advised a procedure to be performed in the local hospital. With French healthcare coverage it would have been about $45, my cost was $235 for everything. (We don’t qualify for French healthcare for another month, but this will be reimbursed when we are.)
Pharmacies are the only place you can buy over the counter medications and the quantities are tiny. Ibuprofen (generic) 24 pills for €3, Vicks Vaporub €9, etc. However, it takes all of 2 minutes to get a prescription as you are sold the entire package (no dispensing) and they are often rather inexpensive.
Many English words are the same in French. Some are not.
Etiquette - Label
Preservative - Condom
Affairs - Business
Bras - Arms
Car - Bus
College - Middle School (and grade levels count down to graduation. High school is: 3,2,1, Terminal - or senior year)
Athlétisme - Track and Field
Douche - Shower
Trombones - Paper Clips
Tampons - Rubber Stamps
Friperie - Second Hand Clothing Store
Raisin - Grape
Library - Bookstore (Bibliothèque is a library.)
Main - Hand
Ordonnance - Prescription
Pain - Bread
Patron - Boss
Sale - Dirty
Until next time, here are some photos to enjoy!