Life is France is like life here. It’s also NOT like life here. It’s a confusing thing to think, much less say. When someone thinks of France, there are so many things that go through his head. If you’ve never been I’m sure there’s the assumptions that always come, some of which I wouldn’t even say on here. The truth is, France is wonderful. France is my favorite country (outside of the United States) and somewhere I love to go. When I’m there, I don’t know how to explain it, I just feel home. I want to take time to share with you what France is and what’s it’s like there and hopefully you, too, will fall in love with this country…
*France is all about family. Seriously. Family matters in France. At 8pm, all the businesses close up. Forgot to buy milk or get deodorant for the next day? Tough cookies. And don’t expect someone to stay open late for you because it’s just not happening. The reason why is that 8pm is dinner time in France. Families schedule their day around coming together and having dinner with one another. Their culture embraces that and makes it a priority. There’s no need to be out later. The only places that may make an exception are restaurants. In small towns, this is less likely since most people eat at home for dinner. Don’t believe me? Go to Paris and try to shop late at night. Some Parisian stores are a little more generous and give you until 9pm but that’s the cut off limit. It’s hard to believe the City of Lights even follows their culture, but it does. In France, family is the most important thing and it’s defined by their priorities, including what time they close shop.
*France is private. A lot of times, there is confusion with France being a “rude” country. Not in the least. A lot of it is not understanding the culture. Misunderstandings always lead to assumptions. The French community is a very closely-knit one and your core group of friends, or your “tribe”, are your friends for life. You have this inner circle and develop life long, meaningful friendships that are not easily broken. In this culture, those are the people you talk to, the people you do life with, and that’s where you end your communication. Once you have met a friend in France they will be your friend for life. It might take some time, but I’m all about having a few meaningful friendships that hundreds of artificial ones.
*France has history. In the states, we are still a new country. We consider ourselves aged by the fact that we’ve been around since the 1700s but that’s nothing when you go see Notre Dame and realize it’s been there for over 800 years and took over 200 years to build. When you visit Mont St Michel and see a monastery that’s development starting a little after 700 A.D. it will seriously blow your mind. I am always amazed and in awe of what France is and the history that lies there. There’s no way to see it all in a day, a week, or even a year. It would take a lifetime to see all the history that lives in France. Being a history major, I take a great liking to it and embrace it fully. One of my favorite things to do is walk through the Versailles gardens and envision my grandfather taking those same steps. Knowing I’m able to connect with him in such a huge way, even after his death, brings tears to my eyes. I am able to see the country he fell in love with, too.
*France has scars. Some scars don’t completely heal. When you visit the D Day battlefields and see the remains left from the Normandy landings it’s easy to see how France has been scarred by war on their homeland. When you visit the cemeteries left there and see over 9.000 American tombstones it will move you to tears. France has lost so much in just the past 70 years. It’s hard to believe. A whole generation of teenagers and young men was wiped out during World War II, a generation that the French are forever grateful for and remember daily. They had multiple towns that were completely wiped out during the war that are still in the process of being put back together. It blows my mind sometimes to think how close the people there were to war- it was in their town, their backyard, their homes. It’s easy to look at France and wonder “why” for a lot of things but the answers are clear where you’re there.
*France needs the love of Christ. If you’re not a believer, I don’t ask or expect you to understand this completely, but as a believer my heart breaks for this country. When you look at the history of France and the things that they look at as examples of Christ, it’s truly painful. There are so many people who have come in the name of Christ that have caused so much destruction. It doesn’t make it right but it makes it understandable why they are so closed off to the gospel. Less than 1% of the French people are of the protestant faith. Less than 13% are practicing believers of the Catholic faith. There are multiple churches in France but the majority of them are empty of Sunday mornings. In the small town of Merville-Franceville (lower Normandy), you have to drive at least 30 minutes to get to a church and there are only four churches in a 45-minute drive. That’s impossible to comprehend living in a small town. We could drive to well over 1,000 churches in a 45-minute drive. France is one of the wealthiest countries when it comes to financial means but one of the poorest when it comes to having a relationship with God. The people are the Institute there are amazing. They have such a heart for this country and the people there. They are always with high spirits, knowing and believing God to do amazing things! They are such great examples of living your life on mission.
I hope that today’s post has allowed you to see a little of my heart for France- there’s so much more that I always have and am ready to share. I would be more than happy to sit down with anyone who would like to hear more! I’m already ready to go back…and bring Emma this time!