Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Clearly, I'm not French

I felt a lot more French before I got to Paris.

Now, after being here five weeks, I have been informed, politely, by every French person I meet that, no, I don't qualify to be French. Here is how they tell me...

I walk into a store and say Bonjour in a pretty good accent. They say Hello.

Then in fully blown English, I say, How did you know I was English? 

They smile sheepishly and don't answer.

I think it's because I smile. I'm a bit too cheery and enthusiastic to pull off being French. And I refuse to wear nylons. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.
Canadian smile... a dead giveaway.

Or maybe it's because I shrieked like a little girl when THIS horrifying thing arrived at my table:
Eyeballs. Those are eyeballs. On my plate!

Make no mistake, I haven't been treated unkindly. Everyone is super nice, except sometimes perhaps in a seething Nice-to-tourists resentful kind of way.

But then again, I'm a tourist. So there.

I've been reading this book to feel like someone understands the frustrations of not exactly being very French when one is in Paris for more than a week long vacation:

In Almost French: A New Life In Paris, Sarah Turnbull, an Australian, writes the story of the first few years she lived in Paris with her Parisian boyfriend. Basically, like in Quebec, the French are the French and if you're not born French, you're not French so just deal.

This is in steep contrast to many cultures, like mine, that embrace multiculturalism. I take it even further to go to spiritual centers of all faiths like Agape International Spiritual Center and the Self-Realization Center.

You could say I'm sort of religious about multiculturalism.

Turnbull's book has been like a comforting friend who sits with me at the café to inform me with kindness and humor about all the culture around me that my language skills and general know-how do not permit me to access.

In the end, I have accepted that I am simply not as French as I thought I could be.


When I explain this to my new "friend," he says, "That's okay. I'm Polish."


Yep. That's the butcher.


  1. hooooooorayyyy!!!!

  2. I shrieked a little when I saw that photo :)

  3. LOL!!!!!!!!
    I absolutely LOVE IT!!!!!!!
    WOoooooOooo hoooooooooOO!!

  4. Well, I for one thing you look at least semi-French in that pink scarf. AND having a love affair is VERY French. Magnifique!

  5. OMG I don't want to hear how you're not French - I want to hear about how you're frenching the butcher! :P Give us some scandal please!

  6. What a great piece of writing: you start with the premise of not being French, you elaborate, then tell us how you're coping with it, give in to the acceptance of not being French and then.. deliver to your readers what we've all been wondering about after drinks at the bar with your butcher...the surprise! The picture and his priceless statement "That's okay! I'm Polish!"
    I'm sure there were many cheers from your blog followers!! This is awesome!

  7. Ok I love you and all...but I have to go with my maternal instincts here....can you look at his ID and write some info down please? He is a butcher after all...don't want to hear about your body being found in a suit case in Paris all butchered up! Please be careful!! Looks like a love connection!

  8. Dear Anonymous 2, Get this... I asked him his age. He said, "Tragique." Then the next day, I asked him again. He said, "I say tragique." The next day he showed me his ID with his age. Then I told him mine. We both sighed. We're in range.

  9. You do totally look French in that photo. I spent a summer in France and when I would say "Bonjour" the shopkeeps would say, "Hello" all the time. And then one day I said "Bonjour" to a friend of a friend and she asked me if I was from Marseille.

    How's that for a compliment wrapped in an insult? Or vice versa?


  10. Once you start dreaming in French...that's when it happens. It doesn't matter where you were born or what it says on your ID, right now, you're french.
    Gurl you GO on with your French-ass self and you have fun with your butcher!

  11. You always seem to get what you are after since you were a little girl preserverence always wins in your case .Enjoy


  12. Just managed to catch up on a week or so of posts and I really enjoyed reading. It reminds me how much I love Paris. I should've been more social when I was there for a month last year. Mais non, mon francais toujours mauvaise. I'm determined to work on it and have a French conversation with you! It makes me so happy to read about your adventures. Keep making the most of it! Mais, vous allez me manquer...bisous


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