I’ve just come back from a trip to France, and every time I go there I point out the differences between England and France so I thought it would be great to share my outlook on the country I was born and grew up in, and the country I live in now.
I hope you will recognize some of the differences yourself and maybe have a different perspective. It is very important to note that I am not undermining any countries, just describing how I feel after living in both places. France and England are two countries that I love for different reasons and are both very dear to me.
So I hope some expats living in both countries will also share their experiences – agree or disagree and that English people will also answer some of my questions which remain a mystery.
One thing I have noticed living in England, is that most of the people own a pet, especially a dog. I am not sure if it is due to the fact that people tend to live in houses with gardens more than in flats therefore it is easier to have a dog but I can clearly see the difference. It is great to see so much love towards animals and so many places that are dog friendly, not that we are not in France but this is more obvious here. I am personally a bit scared of big dogs as I was traumatized when I was younger but I really like small dogs such as pugs, they are so cute!
I don’t know if England equals Germany in terms of beer consumption but after living in England for four years, I have rarely met an English person telling me they don’t drink beers. In fact, everyone is shocked at me when I say I do not drink, how dare I !
I must say, I am amazed when I see the number of pints you guys can get down in one night!!!
The iconic “Cigarette”. It is not a myth, French people smoke like a chimney and if you have been to France or go there, you will be surprised by how many people are smoking at any time of the day and not only during a night out. In high school, university you had all the smokers going outside for a smoke and there were always more people outside than inside.
England has done very well not getting affected this bad by this addiction, it has a devastating effect in France ….
PS: On this photo I have a cigarette only for style purposes, I do not smoke and do not want to promote smoking!
Social dining is very precious to us frenchies and it is true that sometimes we can sit at table and eat for two-three hours but obviously we do not eat for three hours non-stop! Dining would include the aperitifs, entrée, plat de résistance, the entertainment, the social aspect. I was quite surprised when, in the previous houses I lived in here, there was no dining table.
I really like this part of our culture and I am glad to see it is becoming more important in England as well.
I will have to say that the eyebrows trend in England is going too far sometimes. I am not sure I understand the appeal in big, big, big eye brows. Perhaps because I have big eye brows myself and I can tell you it is a pain to look after them, thank god there is threading!
I thought Football was quite a big thing in France but I obviously knew nothing. It is incredible to see how passionate everyone is about football here. Most people support a team from a young age (usually the team that the parents or family supports) and then you all watch the games together; at home or at the pub. I am not a football fan but I like how this brings you all together and become a family tradition and get together.
By the way, I do support Liverpool but I also like Arsenal for obvious reasons (Arsene Wenger) but it is okay I am French I do not have to support just one team, do I?
A very dear subject to me… As a foodie, I am not going to lie, I often miss France and its nice restaurants because that is our heritage and what we are good at. I have discovered nice food here such as scones or pies but I am afraid you cannot beat a nice French restaurant with our lovely bread and cheese. Funny fact, in each restaurant you go in France, they will serve you bread for free it is just a norm to have bread on a table wherever you go.
Thankfully, in Liverpool there are loads of International restaurants and it keeps my taste buds awake!
I will need someone to explain this to please. Although, I am now used to it but girls actually go on the streets with rollers in their hair in Liverpool. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have been asked why do they do this by the people who visited me and I am still not able to answer so please do not leave me in the dark, shed some light and explain to me the roller style. Not that I will adopt the concept!
Last time I went to south of France, I realized that road directions are both in French and English. I think it is great for all British people who visit France. We obviously know they represent a big target market so we make sure they can find their way around.
I now try to imagine how it would be to have the same in Liverpool or even London! But some will say English is the world language so not needed.
Joie de vivre
Translated word for words, it means “joy of life”. French people have the reputation to be very passionate and full of life; loving their food, their wine, their art, their fashion and are supposed to be very romantic (this one needs to be discussed!).I think it is true, we are very passionate and full of life in our own way but I feel that English people also have this “joie de vivre”. I love the fact that from all ages you all get together in a pub, celebrate hen do’s, stag dos, birthdays and do the full thing. You know how to party and have fun. Okay sometimes it is not good to see at 2am in the streets where everyone is way too drunk and has to walk bare feet, not pretty!
This means “horn”, like horn blast. Those who have been to France will know that we are wild when it comes to driving. People beep for no reasons, are impatient and swear at you so I wish we took example from you. Your courtesy is remarkable; I have even forgotten how to use the horns on my car!
Many French people will agree with me; living in England I feel more at ease to wear eccentric stuff. People are very open minded when it comes to style, no one will turn around if you have blue hair or pink hair which is not always the case in France. Especially if you live in a village like me!
The other day, I wore a pink wig and went out to the shops with my friends. We passed by a few people and I was looking to see if they would notice my hair. They could not care less, I was like invisible. I will do this experience in my village next time I go home, it shall be funny!
Where do I start? Before moving to England; I thought I was quite good with makeup because I could manage, three times out of five, doing my eyeliner evenly. That’s when I did not have English girls putting me to shame! It is like everyone is a make-up artist around here and although some people go overboard, English girls are very good with make-up!
I have tried to do the contouring and stuff and ended up looking like ” It” the clown. So for now I will stick with my basics – eye liner, mascara, concealer, terracotta and lip stick (I love lip stick); it is safer. I also think that us French girls do like a natural look and minimal make-up.
Like I said above, I think French girls do prefer a more natural look and it is down to preferences and habits. Now I have lived in England, I really appreciate good make-up but I am not patient enough to do all the layers and different stages on my skin. I feel like my skin would suffocate!
I have also discovered the fake eye lashes here. Again this will be rare if you see French girls with fake lashes during day time where here it is very common. They do make your eyes look amazing, so every now and then I will wear them on a night out. I have been converted!
It sounds cliché but we do actually say “ohlala”. We say this in various occasions though. So it could be “ohlala I forgot something”, “oh lala this is very expensive” , “ohlalal you’re in trouble”. However, we do not say “vavavoum”, please we need to kill this myth even though I absolutely love Thierry Henry this needs to stop!
Funny enough, as I just said the word out loud, I sighed. I think it clearly expresses my love for them.
Even though you have Patisserie Valérie which is very good, it is not the same to me. There is a new place on bold street that has opened, I need to try and I will let you know if it does compete with a real French patisserie.
It is impressive to see how many take aways and fast food places you can find next to each other in England! If I knew that ten years ago, I would have just come here and opened a fast food!
In France, you would have different places but for fresh food so boulangerie for your bread; boucherie for your meat, tabac for magazines and cigarettes. We also have great food market, all the spices; the cheese, fruits and veggies, I love it and really miss the smells, the vibe and the authenticity.
You would also find that our super markets look different, I compared the crisps department in each country and this is quite impressive to see how big the crisps shelves are in England. In France, the cheese departments are obviously bigger and so are the ones for pasta, I love pasta!
Not a very charming name but that’s actually how French people call the English people. I had to come to England to understand the reason, the Sunday roast dinner tradition!
We are called frogs, not sure which is more flattering to be honest.
For those who will read this and are not from England, Scouse is the name used to call people from Liverpool. There is also a “scouse” accent which is very unique (I am smiling whilst writing this). First, I could not understand it but now I sound scouse myself! A French scouse, what a melting pot!
English people really like tattoos, I have never seen as many tattoos until I got here. And English people do like big tattoos, full sleeves, legs, everywhere!
I do like tattoos, if they have a meaning and when they are quite subtle too so it was a bit of a culture shock at first but you get used to it eventually.
France is unique and so is England and that’s what makes it so interesting for me as an expat. The two counties are not far from each other but culture wise there are so many differences (many more than I have just described), I love it and I love being able to recognize these differences and write about it. Hope you do too.
Vive la difference!
I did mention above the French aggressiveness when it comes to driving so it will explain why you will find a lot of scratched cars in France. It is a real shame …
I must admit, the english weather is really something I struggle with. Summer doesn’t last long, tempetaure is nothing like in a hot country and winter just feels like it will never end. But, people are so warm and friendly that it makes it all fine especially up North.
I am aware this is not a nice word to have but the truth is that no country seems to escape from this and it is very sad. In France and in England there are discriminations and xenophobia towards various group of people and I really hope this will stop, everywhere.
I put this word because I feel like English people keep their youth through their enticement to party, going to the pub, going out. I always find it so cute when I see older people (like my grandparents age) going out for a drink, socializing with the younger generation. It is a great spirit.
I had to use Zinedine Zidane because not only he is a footballer legend but we also have the same background, French-Algerian. Plus it was very hard to find a relevant word starting with a Z.
Hope you have enjoyed this from France to England from A to Z article. I think it is quite obvious that I love both countries and that I have been completely charmed by Liverpool where I do feel very welcome, it’s my second home. I have met amazing people and my experience here is a big part of who I am now.
Please comment, I would love to hear people’s feedback, experience and opinion on the above.