Thursday, September 9, 2010

Les Solutions

So, I think I did okay on my test today. How did you do on yours? Let's find out. I'll trust you to correct your own answers.

1. Typically, the French plan to spend what percentage of their income on food?

When we were looking for housing, one real-estate agent told us that the income requirements on most rentals are very strict because it is assumed the French will spend about 40% of their income on food. I did a little Internet research to verify this information and found figures from 18%-25%--however these numbers pertained to a family's GROCERY budget. Perhaps the 40% figure quoted by the agent correlated to BOTH groceries and dining out. Je ne sias pas. One thing seems clear from my research, the French spend more on food than Americans, who on average dedicate 10% of their income to food. The French spend more money on food, but they weigh less. Consider that next time you are tempted to settle for fast food!

2. We were without hot water for how long this week?

We spent 36 hours without hot water. Why? I have no idea. The power was on, but the water was cold. I felt like I was in a third-world country or something. I think that makes me a bona fide missionary!

3. The current transportation strike in France is the result of Sarkozy's suggestion that the retirement age be raised to what?

Right now public employees can retire at the age of 60. Sarkozy would like to raise the retirement age to 62, and that does not sit well with the French. Here a full-time work week is 35 hours, and the average worker gets 40 paid vacation days. Many offices both public and private, are completely closed for the entire month of August.

4. Don't even think about doing any official business during what hours of the day?

Most places close down for two hours at lunch time. That means that from 12 to 2 you cannot mail a package, make a deposit at the bank, or buy a birthday present.

5. The City of Massy, where we now live, spends what percent of its revenue on flowers?

Cities in France compete against each other in public floral displays. Many towns, including Massy, take this competition VERY seriously. This is why they spend a large portion of their revenue on flowers--up to 50% according to our school secretary. I DO wonder if that is because schools, roads, museums, etc. are paid for by their national government.

6. When going grocery shopping for multiple items, bring your own shopping bags, or else:

You will either have to purchase bags or juggle your stuff. There are varying qualities of bags available for purchase, and all of them are reasonably priced. We are already in the habit of taking our grocery bags with us into the store. Oh, and we must always bag our own groceries.

7. In France, the little hook just below the handle of your shopping cart is where you

I guess that one could hang whatever one wants on this hook, but based on my observations in the grocery store, its purpose is to hang one's baguettes. And oh how I LOVE this convention, because I really hate it when bread get squished in the bottom of a grocery cart. Also, if one wishes to use a large shopping cart, one must insert a one euro coin into a slot to release the cart. When the cart is returned, and relocked in the proper place, the euro coin is released and thereby "refunded." Needless to say, shopping carts in France are always returned to the proper place.

8. Goûter (pronounced GOO tay) is:

I will be having Goûter for the rest of my life. It is an afternoon snack, typically consisting of sweets. Served daily at about 4 p.m., it is often an occasion to gather with friends. On a normal day, when we come home from school, I help myself to some chocolate and a cup of coffee...Mon goûter.

9. At a formal French dinner, the cheese course would be served:

Cheese is served right before dessert. The typical French meal has six distinct courses with a proper chronology: L'entrée (hors d'oeuvre), le plat de r


sistance ( vegetables possibly served separately), le salade, le fromage, le dessert, and le caf


. For a more formal affair, one might be served l'ap


ritif (a cocktail) first, le poisson (fish) before the main dish, and le digestif (another beverage) at the very end in addition to the normal six courses.

10. On a French calendar, the first day of the week is:

Monday, which means that I am continually entering appointments into my electronic calendar on the wrong day, because I am so used to the week starting on Sunday!

Did you learn anything new? I think I am still learning something new about France everyday. Often, I am puzzled, frustrated, or bemused; yet, I still remain enamored with the enigma that is France.

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