USA-France Quirks

Things Americans might find strange in France

I created this list based on things that my other American friends and I noticed in France.

1. Square Pillows

If you go to an IKEA or any sort of bedding store in France, odds are you will only find square pillows for your bed. I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. They have 50% of the capabilities of a rectangular pillow, and are just not as comfortable.


2. Separate Toilets

I don’t mean like in a separate bathroom alcove, no. In both apartments I had in France and many of the ones I visited the toilet (WC) was completely on the opposite side of the apartment from the bathroom. This meant that after going to the bathroom you would have to cross the entire apartment, including kitchen and dining room, just to wash your hands.


3. Sugar Daddy

When you need sugar in France, you need Daddy.


4. Hollywood Gum

Hollywood gum is a very popular brand of gum in France and french people were always a bit shocked that we don’t carry it in the US.


5. Soldiers with Machine Guns

One thing that I did find a little unnerving in France was that there were a significant amount of military patrolling city centers, train stations and trains.



6. Line Etiquette is Nonexistent

There is no such thing as a line. It is a free-for-all full of elbows, dirty glances and money-waving. The worst culprits are the miniscule, ancient French women sporting completely polyester wardrobes who wield their shopping carts like elven-forged swords.


7. Drivers don’t use AC to save gas

As of today (June 6, 2015), gas is $5.54/gallon in France. When the dollar was weaker this number was more like $7/gallon. It’s no wonder that Europeans try to save on gas.


8. Post-Dinner Coffee

Coffee must be taken after dessert. This has however led to the magic that is Cafe Gourmand.


A couple other small things:

  • You’ll get looks if you put milk in your coffee after 9am and aren’t a baby
  • There is a total lack of peanut butter in Europe
  • Strikes or les grèves (they are a way of life in France)
  • You don’t tip in restaurants
  • It seems like every single person in France smokes sometimes

Things French people might find strange in America

These items were curated by real-life french people (Merci Denis et Marjo).

1. Sour Cream

Just sour cream.


2. Pristine Fruits and Veggies

Our fruits and vegetables are all unnaturally perfect. From my experience, the fruits and veggies in France were tastier and smaller than their American counterparts. Except avocados. Avocados in France aren’t great.


3. American pedestrians wait at red lights

I personally think this depends more on the city that you are in but we do seem to follow the rules a bit more about crossing the street.


4. No dessert with every meal

French people might find this shocking but not every meal here ends with something sweet.


5. 24/7 Dining

Restaurants are always open, you can pretty much eat whenever you want.


A couple other small things:

  • Employees say “how are you” as a way of saying “hi”
  • Our restaurants don’t often have price fix menus
  • Carpool lanes do not exist in France

If there are any international quirks that you’ve noticed please let me know in the comments below! 🙂

One Comment

  1. 1) You could see a square pillow twice as big as a rectangular one 😉 Beside, I feel like they are more comfortable when you want to use them as a backrest…

    2) You may change your mind after reading this :

    3) I’m pretty sure business owner chose this name on purpose

    4) It’s so good ! Unfortunately it only tastes for 10sec

    5) Especially for the last couple of months 🙁

    6) Can’t wait to be to wear polyester wardrobes and fight with my shopping card

    7) More than money, I think we are more concern about the environment (especially in Grenoble)

    8) Of course !!!!

    I’ll come back later for the US part 🙂


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