Expat lists two ‘culture shocks’ that people may underestimate when moving to France – ‘Puts me on edge’

If you’re a Briton seeking a slow pace of life somewhere with a rich cultural heritage, there’s a high chance you’ve considered France.

In 2019, the estimated number of British expats living in France was upwards of 175,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Adapting to a country’s cultural norms can prove challenging even at the best times. The process can be particularly tricky when local customs are worlds apart from those we’re used to at home.

This proved one of the biggest hurdles for Patricia Brookes after she moved to France in hopes of learning a new language.

Expats moving to France can face a unique set of challenges

The expat documented her experience on her YouTube channel, admitting that two particular challenges stood out; a lack of personal space and unreliable delivery services.

The American native left her job in 2018 to move to the South of France. She explained: “It’s been an incredible experience, but there have been some challenges along the way.”

“Here in France, with some mail and some of my packages, I don’t get them or I don’t get them quickly.

“There’s the problem number one of things just not being delivered, and then there’s the problem of things being delivered more slowly.”

Another confusing aspect of French culture, in Patricia’s opinion, is the perception of personal space among locals.

She explained that everyday activities like queuing up for things were enough to “put her on edge” because passersby would stand too close.

“After four and half years, something that really puts me on edge is when someone is in line behind me and they’re really pretty close,” she explained.

“Here there is not the same degree of person space […] and it really kind of sets me off.”

France is a popular destination among expats

She warned restaurants are often only open between 12 pm and 2 pm, meaning customers are limited to only two hours when they want to dine out.

“This thing is that even more difficult and tricky is that sometimes those restaurants will close an hour earlier and they won’t advertise it,” she said on YouTube.

Often, shops start closing five to 10 minutes before advertising, making it difficult to pick anything up at the last minute.

“The French will close their stores, their restaurants – everything – and they won’t advertise it,” explained Helena.

Also Read: ‘Thumbs down’: Expats issue warning to retired foreigners hoping to live in Spain’s Andalucia year-round

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