In honor of blog post number 100 (and as a precursor to the 30 Days of Lists challenge I am going to attempt starting March 1st), why not start with 100 reasons why I love France? (soon to be followed by the 101st blog post of why France drives me nuts).
Ready? On y va! (in no particular order)
1. French reportage - Frenchified documentaries on American gangs, American Spring Break, American Universities and American Obesity - they suck you in faster than you can say fromage.
2. Walking - always - anywhere (in Paris that is).
3. Millefeuille pastries - I can eat two in one sitting. (seriously)
4. Marchés - open air markets with lots of yelling about cheap fruits and veggies.
5. So many things are "ancien" - which leads me to number six:
6. Inherent charm
7. Arrogance - The French all think they are Hot Ish ...and they're not embarrassed to make you aware of that fact.
8. UHT milk - I know we may have this in the states but I had no idea what the strange bottle of unrefrigerated white stuff was when I was handed a bag of "welcome snacks" by my university program coordinator in Toulouse, 2004. Now it makes me so happy to buy a six pack of milk - one goes in the fridge, five in the cupboard. I NEVER run out of milk people!
9. Public transportation - Somehow the French, who have made prolonging red tape some kind of an art form, are all on top of the public transportation...while Americans are chillin... in their Fords.
10. Cobble stones (though I am considering asking my shoe repairman if he has some sort of fidelity card).
11. Almond flavoring - the French love it, and so do I....almond soap, almond tarts, almond slivers on croissants, almond powder (I sprinkle it in yogurt!), almond lotion. It's a mini-almond heaven.
12. Health care. Now, I almost wrote free health care, but that would be a bit fat mensonge seeing as how a big chunk of my salary goes to taxes and those taxes pay for health care. BUT, I do appreciate not having to worry about say - getting hit by a Velib while crossing the street, losing my arm and then not getting treated for it :-) Merci La France (and merci to me for paying taxes).
13. Oh la la - mais oui, I like France for this expression (and so does Olivier Giraud).
14. Merde - again, a favorite. Nothing wraps France up more than the word merde - dog merde on the ground, merde on your shoes, merde I missed the metro!, this show is de la merde. See - so useful!
15. Yogurts - you know how in America there is Yoplait or...Yoplait? Well, in France the yogurt section takes up an ENTIRE AISLE at the grocery store. I could do an entire year's worth of blogs just about taste testing the different yogurts: soy yogurt, goat's milk yogurt, almond yogurt, plain yogurt, whole fat, low fat, non-fat yogurts, small, medium and large yogurts...and the list goes on and on...
16. Quality not quantity. In some ways this is not always true (you'll always be able to find a kilo of cheap chocolate or 5 tank tops for 25 Euros) BUT most of the time France is about quality, not quantity. Boxes of chocolates are small but oh so tasty, clothes are expensive but are meant to last. I'm still battling my inner-American who just wants a cheap thrill on this one(except for Target - don't worry, I still love you), but the French have got this one right.
17. Paris - how could I make a list of things I love about France and NOT list Paris?!
18. l'Art de vivre - we take time to walk, we take time to eat, we take time to talk, we take time to relax.
19. La Ville en Rose - Toulouse will always be my first French city.
20. Bastille - anytime I walk home, the moment I see Bastille, I feel better. It means I'm almost there, it's full of life and movement and just the sight of it makes me happy.
21. Copain - France wouldn't be France and my life would not be complete without my uber Frenchified, radin Copain. I'm not even sure I would be sitting on my Conforama couch in the middle of Paris typing this if it wasn't for him.
22. Art de la table - I make fun of it, but oh my dog do I love the energy the French put into decorating their tables: fancy place settings, silver cutlery, water glass, white wine glass, red wine glass, cloth napkins, center piece! And no table is complete without some sparkly table confetti! Behold the Belle Mère's Christmas table:
23. Champagne - never in my life have I had more champagne than during my years in France. How did I not know about its greatness earlier???!!!
24. Which brings me to - Foie gras. Again, I'm in love. Add some sea salt (perhaps a little bit of fig chutney) and I'm in FCC paradis.
25. Mi-bas and sockettes. I know, I know, you're thinking what the heck is a mi-bas?! Just ask my mom and she'll tell you of the wonders.
26. Vacances : 5 weeks, paid, yearly. How is that not amazeballs?
27. A love for cahiers - the French are biiiiig fans of the cahier (notebook) - especially Copain. The school supply section at BHV makes me want to be 7 again and have my "liste pour la rentrée". (Yes, the teachers actually give parents a list of all the cahiers, pens and different colored folders they need to buy their kids before the first day of school...to the tune of a lot of Euros per enfant).
28. I know it's cliché but...baguettes. Who doesn't love hot, crispy, yet perfectly soft and chewy bread with cheese???
29. An unwavering attachment to tradition (see baguettes, health care, vacation).
30. La buvette - the cheapest bar on the planet which can be found at the classy "Board Games Festival" (this is where French nerds walk around playing board and strategy games all day) and the "Foire aux Celibataires" (Singles Festival - where those over 60 and single speed date, line dance and plus si affinité). Hey, people get thirsty.
31. Franglais - le weekend, ok, le basket, un t-shirt, un jean - we win.
32. Obsession with all that is "bio" (organic)...though maybe this is not just France?? I've totally caught the bug...except for those wafer cookies I just bought and inhaled. merde.
33. Expats - France is so fun to make fun of ... and even more fun with expats!
100. Overachieving is not always admired - in fact, they may think you are trying too hard and that if you have to try that hard, you must have some issues to work through...which is why I am going to stop there and go to bed. Désolée mes amis ....but this FCC needs to dormir.
Bonne nuit la France - je t'aime, even if I can't make it to 100 ce soir.