Behind the Times en France

Not to be all pro-America or anything but why is it that France is always behind the times?  I know, I know, Internet was first invented in France and la mode is always popping up in Paris first, but in all other arenas, America takes the gold.

I don't always keep track of examples of this slow advancement in France, but while grocery shopping on Saturday I noticed this:

You may not be able to tell from the photo, but that entire blue section is all gluten-free food. Gluten-free is a new thing in France whereas it has been a Trader Joes staple for I don't know how long. Back in Toulouse when I thought I may have Celiac disease and tried cutting out all gluten from my diet for a month to see if it made a difference, the only places with gluten-free foods were mini, expensive health food stores.  Well, gluten-free has gone mainstream! It only took France, oh, six years?

In some ways I like that France is not keen on jumping on the bandwagon right away to make a buck.  Heck, frozen yogurt has just made its appearance and look what a money-maker that has been for America.  But France stays true to itself I guess...if it's not broken, don't fix it. If it's not bad, why make it better? While France is slowly but surely following America in its path to being the ultimate "culture of convenience", I am fairly convinced that France will never actually get there. Yes, you can now make an appointment for the Prefecture online, but only in Paris, not in province.  Yes, you can buy Smart boxes (themed-gift cards good for use in multiple establishments) but you can't buy a gift card at your favorite restaurant for a friend's birthday. Yes, you can spend 450, 000 Euros on a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of Paris, but you may have to walk up 6 flights of stairs to get to your front door. And yes, you can wash your clothes in your own washer but you'll probably have to wait a day or two for it to dry because only the lucky few have dryers.

Everything is a process, everything is a song and dance. But then again, if it were easy, I am convinced that France would quickly fall into the trap that America has already fallen into - that's to say, fast food,  immediate satisfaction, car dependency, TiVo mania, and a pace of living that leads to high stress and higher expectations.  Neither country has found the balance - and I can't say that they both don't frustrate me in their own way. But the longer I live here and the more "out of the loop" I am with regard to the new things coming out in the states, when I do hear about something new, the more I realize à quel point la France avance à deux pas.

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