Sunday, November 7, 2010


Our friends have left Vaison la Romaine and returned to the states. Betty and Cecilia left for Paris on Wednesday and John and Arleen left on Friday. Despite too many rainy days, it was a wonderful visit and a lot of fun to meet the friends of our friends and to enjoy time with the four of them. During our time in Provence, we have been making our way in our village meeting new people and finding new/shared interests. It was wonderful having the chance to meet John’s and Arleen’s friends and getting to know more people that we want to have on the “BFF” list.

If laughter is the best medicine, we should be healthy for quite a while. We had so many laugh out loud moments from sharing stories and experiences. A lot of laughs came from stories of our friends and their missteps in the dance of French culture. (In their defense, they did run into a few folks who should be in counseling for career change.)

I guess most Americans have asked/been asked the following as we clumsily trip our way through a foreign culture:

  • Why should one have to ask to have butter on the tablein a restaurant?
  •  Why is coffee often served tepid?
  •  Why do the French drive so fast? Once they get to the cafĂ© where they are headed, they will sit there for an hour after they have finished their coffee waiting for the waiter to offer to bring the bill.
  • Why do they permit trucks on two-lane roads when the truck takes up one and a half lanes?
  •  If you want to have a coffee with cream after 9:00 AM, does it mean that you expect to get a croissant with it?
  •  Will people who you know expect three “air kisses” every time you see them?
  •  Where can you get “coffee to go” in Vaison la Romaine? (Why would you want “coffee to go” in Vaison la Romaine?)
  •  Why can you find only an “eastern style” toilet when you are pressed for time?
  •  How can such “cute” (Monopoly-like) currency be worth one and ½ times US currency?
  •  Why do most French dictionaries not include words found on menus?
  •  Why are there two flush buttons on the top of the toilet?
  •  Why does one ask “Ou sont les toilettes” (where are the toilets) when you need only one?
  •  How many different kinds of a single cheese are there? In Lansing, we consider ourselves lucky to find Comte or Roquefort. Don’t confuse us with multiple choices of each.
  •  Do shopkeepers actually spend 2 ½ hours eating lunch? (In a more American-style question: Do the French need to have a 2 ½ lunch period?)
  •  What makes the metric system so special?
  •  Are shop clerks going to expect me to say “Bonjour, Madame” and “Au revoir, Madame” every time I enter/leave a shop?
  •  Is it the sum of these questions and similar questions that makes another culture intriguing and charming?
Eat some chocolate!

Too bad our guests had to leave before this weekend. There was a wine and chocolate festival at the Rasteau wine cooperative. John would have been especially pleased. (It is he who ends his answering machine salutation with “Eat some chocolate!”) The cooperative was offering wine and chocolate pairings. There were three chocolatiers (chocolate artisans) from the area offering samples and selling their art. In the wine tasting room, I heard them promoting vin doux de Rasteau (sweet wine from Rasteau) to go with the chocolates but I prefer deep, dry red wines – the ones that make you think of chocolate as you sniff the aroma or sip the wine. Red wine and dark chocolate: it doesn’t get much better than this! – and John is right: “Eat some chocolate!”Add to Google Reader or Homepage


  1. I have a couple more of those questions...
    --Why can't you get more than a couple ice cubes in a glass?
    --Why is the Coca Cola served with lemon?
    (maybe it's not any more, it's been a long time since we were in France.)

  2. Having been one of the friends who posited these and other questions, I find myself at home in Colorado longing for more questions amidst all the charm and pleasantries of life in Vaison la Romaine. "Je suis content avec les Francais!"
    Where will I go to find a market on Tuesday? Where will I find such wonderful prunes?