Monday, April 7, 2014

A to Z Challenge: F is for France

I’ve been to France for a visit and a second time to live there. The first time I went to France I was thinking, “Where are the horse-drawn carriages?” I had this notion that it would look the way it is portrayed movies.

I haven’t been back to France in 20 years, but when I think of France I remember these things:

  • FNAC – It was a store that sold books, DVDs, and CDs. I loved this store. It was huge. The lines were long even though they had lots of registers. I admired that the French loved books so much. I remember a stupid thing I asked a clerk there once. I spoke in French, but I asked him if they had any books in English. The guy standing next to me laughed out loud. The clerk told me that they didn’t have any English books. I later discovered the English bookstore called Shakespeare & Co.
  • Shakespeare & Co – It is a musty old bookstore that carried a bunch of used books in English. There were mismatched chairs that looked like they were fancy at some point long ago before they became faded and worn. Once when I went to this store, it was pouring rain out. The roof was leaking. All around the shop were buckets or pots to catch the water. There were pots right on top of the books that were laid out on a table. It was like something in a movie. There was a ladder or steep narrow staircase in the store where you could climb to the second floor to look at more books. It probably wasn’t very sturdy, but no one seemed to care. An old English man worked at the bookstore. It was a very charming shop across the river from Notre Dame de Paris.
  • I remember the distinct smell of urine in the streets.
  • I remember Le Marché aux Puces, the flea market where you can find bargains, but I don’t know if it was very safe. It wasn’t that close to where I lived either, so I only went there once. I heard a couple of Arab guys in a shop talking about me as I looked at their items for sale. One was telling the other that he didn’t think I spoke French. He thought I was a tourist. The other argued that I wasn’t a tourist and that I did speak French. The one who thought I spoke French finally came over to me and asked me. When I spoke back in French, he laughed at the other guy, delighted that he was right. It’s kinda fun listening to people talk about you when they don’t know you speak their language.
  • Carrefour – Huge store where you can get your groceries, but it had other stuff like CDs that I liked to look through. I guess the equivalent would be Target plus a grocery store put together, but being more of a grocery store.
  • Tati – Store where you got really cheap stuff, but got what you paid for. It makes me laugh when I think about it. I bought an umbrella for 13F. I think that was around $2-$3. LOL! It broke within 2 or 3 uses. My French friend and I were standing across the street from a Tati once and he told me that that store was bombed several years prior. Wow. I couldn’t fathom that because at the time, we didn’t have stuff like that happen in the States.
  • Monoprix – another cheap store, but not as cheap as Tati. My Taiwanese friend and I were looking for eyelash curlers there. That’s when I discovered that French women didn’t use eyelash curlers. I don’t remember if we ever found one, but I already had mine from the US. One time, when my friend and I were out somewhere, one of us was using the eyelash curler. A French girl came up to us and asked us what it was. Both of us didn’t know what the French word for “eyelash curler” was, but my friend told her what it was used for. I remember her telling the girl that French girls didn’t use it because they didn’t need it.
  • Les Galeries Lafayette - awesome store with good quality clothing that, for Americans, is on the expensive side. My friend tried a long sweater on that she was thinking of buying her mom, but she ended up buying it for herself. I can’t remember if it was the equivalent of $500 or $1500. My friend said that I couldn’t afford it because I was American and that Americans couldn’t afford things like that because we had to buy things on credit. I bought my dad a tie for Christmas there once and it was $150. Nice tie, though.
  • Graphigro – the only art store I knew in Paris, but I liked it.
  • Gibert Joseph – a place I frequented because they sold books and cool pens like the extremely popular Pirat erasable fountain pen.

Okay, I need to stop here because this post is getting way too long. The A-Z Challenge posts are preferred short.


  1. "Americans buy things on credit" seems awfully snooty for a city that smells like urine. lol
    Interesting post. And I'm glad I found your blog. I'm interested to see what you post in the future.

  2. I have visited France a few times: Paris twice, the Normandy area, and the Alsass (Elysses?!) area (border country w/ Germany - can't remember what the name is??!?!?!).
    Anyway, what fun to live there - I spoke ZERO French so was totally a "tourist"!! :)
    Thanks for stopping by my blog - best wishes on your continued language learning endeavors! :)

  3. I visited France when I was 17. I was on a 3 week trip that took me through Italy, Austria, and Switzerland as well. The trip ended in France and I spent a little less than a week there. I only knew what little French my mom taught me, but it was a great experience. I'd love to go back sometime!

  4. That English bookstore sounds fantastic! I could probably spend hours in there just inhaling the scents of all those old books.
    Visual Proof