by Celia Paris, February 2018
'Bonjour' is where we start, an essential to begin - not just a greeting, but a pre-requisite before saying anything.
It's counterpart, a cheery 'bon journée' is called out as we turn to go - 'également a vous' would be a quick response, otherwise 'au revoir' will do.
Almost forgot the obligatory kiss - actually one on each cheek in case the first you miss!
Hand shakes all round take a bit of time, but all smoothed over nicely with a Ricard or wine.
Hot on the heels of initial introductions come many searching questions requiring explanations......
names are given second place to both age and employment, and numbers of grandchildren to bring you great enjoyment -
Paintings and prints by the Old Masters hanging in salon and hall give way to family 'photographsproudly displayed on papered French walls
- But what are your reasons for coming to France, or was it somewhere you hit upon just by chance?We try to be honest in our replies.........environmental, economic.......to re-discover our lives................Here, procedures and paperwork assume a different hue - not so very complicated, just relax, take your place in the queue:
a correct and courteous work ethic colours communications and dealings, and when fully understood gives rise to feelings of regard and admiration for the way things are done.
Respect for the velo makes for greater freedom and fun - exploring quiet lanes bordered by hedgerows dotted with flowers
- must remember the long lunch-breaks and peculiar working hours..........
From twelve to two most places are closed, business and commerce appear to be froze
-with weekends extending over to Tuesdays - have a look in your diary to check on public holidays.......
- religious observations are welcome to us, and thankfully Christmas is just Christmas without all the fuss.
However, events and entertainments are times for celebration, retaining older customs, proud oflanguage and nation.......
Perhaps French ways can be summed up in their attitude to cats --
equal opportunities abound for all, plenty of mice and rats!
Look after yourself, we are not responsible for you - but we'll wave our hands, shrug and gesticulateif words we have too few!