I just spent two weeks in France (Paris, Lyon & Mont Saint Michel). Here's some notes from an Outsider as I Chunnel my way out:
* everyone is fashionable; scarves are a must
* the women are tall (but then I just arrived here from China)
* the men are good looking - ooh la la
* they don't hate Americans, and aren't rude if you can't speak French
* the countryside is gorgeous and there is no shortage of Albino cows
* it's hard to find anything to eat BUT pastries, cheese and chocolate (ugh!)
* full-blown restaurants that serve other items seem to focus on Italian dishes!
* food is outrageously expensive - $30 US = $80 France
* if you miss the agreed upon eating times, you're stuck with McDonalds or "QUICK" a McDonalds knockoff
* lots of smokers
* Audrey Tatou is everywhere (magazines, billboards, etc.)
* lots of kissing and open affection, Oui, the city of love
* there are cafes everywhere, all with outdoor seating
* the chairs at said cafes almost always face the street (it's like Parisians like to watch passersby instead of look at each other)
* the malls close on Sunday, wtf?
* impossible to get a cab, and thus my special-subsection:
SUBWAYS (spent a lot of time in these)
* there are buskers in the subway cars, most are better than American pop stars
* the subway is what I imagined life would look like in the dystopian future when I read 1984 as a teenager... it's quite dismal down there!
* subway doors have a latch; you have to open them by hand! barbaric!
* riding down a tunnel with windows open feels psychedelic and sorta like you're in a rickety toy train, or a steampunk paradise. hard to put your finger on it!
* the subway is hopelessly confusing ; I took so many wrong turns and trains, thank god for the buskers
All in all, I loved it. I became a Francophile in a few hours. I've been around Europe in the past and somehow missed France every time. I took French pass/not pass in College. I did not pass. I also took French for grad students (learned to read French). Still, I'd had no real interest in visiting before now. Can't really say why... Maybe I was bitter from having to bake my French teacher a cake to pass? I shall return, dear France. I love France, and even want to learn to speak French. Right now I can only say "Je Suis Malade." If you visit, go with +Trey Ratcliff
who speaks French like a pro and can drive a mean mini!
Oh, and here's a photo I took ... everything I described happens down below there!