An Overview of France
Passing through France
I've been to France a total of three times, in 2009, 2011 and 2014. My trips to France were almost just road crossings on the way to our holidays in Italy. But we decided to visit some of its towns and spend some time there, to know a little bit more about France. I hope to write to you about some of the experiences I had there and about some beautiful places we have seen. Since we were travelling to Italy, I only know part of the south of France, namely the eastern border with Spain, the French Riviera and the wonderful Gorges region, in the Midi-Alps.
An opinion about the French People
France is a very beautiful country. It is captivating from the first moment you see it. The first two years I passed through France my experience with French people was very negative. They were mostly rude, made fun of our attempts to speak their language. I speak a little French, but it apparently it wasn't enough for them... I speak much less Italian and never had problems in Italy, and I don't speak any German and I never had a problem in Germany. In Portugal, whenever a foreigner comes to speak to me, whatever language they use, I try to help them the best way I can, and most Portuguese tend to do so. I like it very much when a foreigner tries to speak our language, even if it is just mixing some Portuguese words with their own language, that makes me proud, but in France, the first two experiences (in 2009 and 2011) they were very rude and made fun of us. I felt really bad about it, and it made me not enjoy the country as much as I could. BUT, in 2014, I had a completely opposite experience. I don’t know if I was just unlucky the first two years I passed through France, or if the French people changed. This last Summer I had only good experiences with the French. All of the people we interacted with were nice, welcoming and helpful. I passed through the French Gorges, which are mind-blowing beautiful, I bought some lavender honey (from the French lavender fields) and I enjoyed myself a lot. The French seem to me to really know how to live. They like nature, adventure sports, they enjoy walking, catching a bit of sun, going to the beach and the snow. They like to spend time with friends at the café... well, they give me the impression they really know how to enjoy themselves and how to live and be happy, and that’s something to admire.
Driving in France
The French are dangerous!... They really are. Not that they are bad drivers. No! They are good drivers, and follow most rules, except the speeding limits. They like to drive really fast (and the fact that their highways have a 130 km/h limit (10 km/h more than most other countries) doesn't help. So, even in those Gorges mountain narrow roads, they drive really fast and that scares me a little.
Eating in France
The food there it’s very good and (for a Portuguese) a bit expensive. But since it is really good, when comparing with great restaurants in other countries, it doesn't cost that much. The wine is great, the cheeses are great. The coffee is horrible (for the Portuguese taste).
Cleaning and Care in France
It was one of the things that impressed me the most in France, generally speaking, of course. Everything was spotless (I repeat - generally speaking). Public toilets were really clean. The cafés, restaurants, everything was really neat. There was no garbage on the streets, and it seems to me that French people take a real pride in keeping it that way. One thing we can surely tell about the French is that they are really proud of their country.
General Cost in France
The supermarkets are cheap (I think that most products are cheaper than in Portugal). Petrol was not very expensive this summer, but it’s more expensive than in Portugal. If I remember correctly, it was about 1,6 euros/litre. Hotels and restaurants are usually expensive.
Attractiveness and Interest of France
For the little we have seen, it is really beautiful. I must say that between the Riviera and the Gorges, I prefer the Gorges although it takes much longer to go through them. But they are incredibly beautiful. As I told before, the French really take pride in having everything clean and beautiful, so they just improve every little town; they make pleasant spaces for people to be. They enhance their streets, town squares or any place they have so that people can appreciate and enjoy it. And that makes our stay in France really nice.
For future hubs...
I don’t have as much experience in France as I do in Italy, but I hope to write, in future hubs, about some of the pleasant places I've stayed.