As I went for my French lesson at a nearby pottery store in a small village on the west coast of Normandy, my tutor’s husband and I had a conversation that after 7 months of living in France, I felt like they are behind on a lot of things. In fact, my words were “20 years behind”. He disagreed and said that he believes the opposite, that they are 20 years ahead. Interesting view from a country that still uses cheques as a major form of payment in supermarkets; but let’s talk.
One year ago almost to the day, I saved enough money and I decided to take 2 years off from full time work in Australia, to travel a little, albeit mostly just experience something other in a 24/7 society such as my former self rarely get to do; experience a quality standard of living.
To understand what I mean, you must first realise that excluding Paris and some major regional areas, France completely shuts down between the hours of 12-2pm and you can’t do much apart from head home, go to your local Tabac or take a long stroll. I assume this is for the purpose of seeing family, having lunches together, to form social bonds, and to realise that not everything needs to be fast-paced all the time.
Is it inconvenient, is it an interruption to the day? Of course it is, although since being here I have overcome said inconvenience and I now see that the time really adds to me enjoying my day more, getting outside or studying up on my French. It gives me something that I have never had while living in Sydney (or my small hometown of Armidale)
I manage a large private Chateau alongside my partner and although we both aren’t “working” per se, we still manage to fill all of our time with harder work than I’ve endured back home and always take hold of our days in a way I, for one, never imagined. Is it the cheaper cheese? Is it the quality of wine? Je ne sais quoi .
The French economy right now is notorious for moving like the Sofaworks Sloth and unemployment is still not getting any better, but everyone I have met still lives a happier, more fruitful life than most of my wealthy $AUSD counterparts and it baffles me, why? Yes, the French are pigeonholed as miserable and arrogant, but they know full well what they have and they are not prepared to give it up, and that includes their language which is prominent for it’s strict rules and lack of leeway.
In fact, the region of Nord-Pas-de Calais has the highest unemployment rate in France, but in new research, the people have been judged to have the best quality of life and are also the happiest!
Now, if we can only get the residents of Struggle Street to be this happy.
I now have seen what “ Monsieur Potter” was saying.
When you’re aiming 20 years ahead, wanting that time with your family, wanting the quality of life you spend your 4 weeks saving up for, but are still working as hard as they did before all of these longer work hours and new technology; What are you really aiming for?