Saturday, October 17, 2009

France reflections

Here are a few random thoughts about France. Small cars and narrow roads are the norms with very tight driving conditions in some of the small towns. In Paris, traffic is crazy with a mix of tour buses, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, small cars and Smart cars. As in the USA everybody is in a hurry, every driver jockeys for position to get some advantage. In the one hour drive from the city to the airport our van driver made more lane changes than I have in the last year.

Food choices are far fewer than in the USA, although by our GPS we were never more than 10 miles from a MacDonalds, not that we even thought of going there. The French menus I saw had ham, omelets, cheese and duck as the predominate choices. We did have raw salmon on a salad one day and avoided that choice in the future. In Paris the menus have a few more choices but I think they are trying to pick up some American tourist business. Portions are small but artfully presented in all the restaurants. I did see a few pizzerias but we didn't try them. With that said I saw very few grossly overweight French people. The only grossly overweight person I saw in Paris was an American.

Other than MacDonalds I only saw one other chain restaurant. For that matter I didn't see chain anything in most of the country. Unlike the USA the independent business man is alive and well and unlike the USA every community looks a little different.

The number of smokers per capita must be far larger than the USA, especially in Paris. Sidewalk cafes are everywhere and quite popular but smoke is a hazard. The cigarettes don't smell as bad as the French cigarettes of the 1960's.

Hotel rooms are small, showers are smaller. I'm not sure how that overweight American in our hotel fit into the shower, especially when I had trouble turning around. The showers have a big surprise moment when you turn around and unknowingly hit the faucet handle. The shock can be hot or cold depending on which way you turn.

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