22 July 2015

After France We're Buying This Boat & Sailing to Cyprus

Portofino, Italy
Just kidding!

Humor or funny fibs, seems to be a conversation starter often employed over here. It's in jest but opens up a lot of "would ifs" and "can you imagine" conversations. It's not said in a jester like fashion, in fact the opposite. Typically dry and slightly mischievous.

In the States, it seems that after basic introductions, the next question always is: "And what do you do?" It's our go-to conversation starter. Does it really start conversations? Sometimes, I guess. But I think it's mostly a habitual question.

In France, it's considered borderline rude to ask this question. The idea is that this question facilitates an instant "sizing someone up" based on their profession. Within seconds there is an assessing of their level of education, salary, esteem, worth, etc. Très gauche. I'd never really thought about this before, but ... it's rather true. It's not a conscious thing for most of us, but we're zeroing in on just one facet of a person as the basis to understand someone.

Certainly French people find out each other's professions ... but not necessarily the first time you meet someone. In a way, you earn access to the "inner layers" as time and conversation continue. Kind of refreshing, actually.


  1. Great icebreaker ideas! You are so right that we Americans always ask about jobs quickly. These are much more fun!

  2. Anna, I've been catching up with you this morning. Such beautiful photographs and adventures! I hope you are feeling fully healthy and headache-free. I love all of your comparisons between the US and France (school, travel, sidewalk sales, conversations, etc.). I once read that a number of other cultures find it "tres gauche" that American women laugh loudly and with their mouths open! :D We seem to be one of the few places where people just want to get to the point rather than enjoy the process of doing something or getting to know someone. Thanks for all of these lovely, relaxing ideas. (BTW, my in-laws were in Normandy on Memorial Day, very close to when you were there, and they also visited Monet's gardens. What a funny coincidence!)

    1. Thank you, Erin! And yes, this big-wide-world can be rather a small-world! :) All the best.