Déménager – Learning (to be) French

An update for you on our recent déménagement à Lyon. The apartment is coming together. We have a canapé, un frigo, une lave ligne, un lit, et… c’est tout. We’ve been scouring Le bon coin for desks and tables, so that we don’t have to eat like this:


I’ll post photos once its more put together. For now, it’s bare. And not very photogenic.

In other news, we have a bank account! And they very generously gave us access to our money…8 days after depositing it. More on that from Dan. We still don’t have phones or the internet chez nous, but at least we can get wifi at McDo.

What else…I started yoga! I have friends! I speak french with people! But complete fluency is still elusive. I’m waiting for that amazing a-ha moment when the language just clicks in my brain. Bientôt, j’espère.

In addition to the language, I’m learning to be French. Or French-like. There are so many little cultural nuances here that are difficult for us étrangér to navigate. Between the vouvoyer-ing and tutoyer-ing, bises, the mandatory bon journée/soirées, the cars that don’t stop at stop signs and the pedestrians who don’t stop at traffic lights, the terrible coffee that everyone loves, it’s all very confusing.

Luckily, this isn’t a new issue. Non-French people have been trying to be more French for hundreds of years. Hemingway, Gopnik, Clarke, JULIA CHILD, and so many others have written about their experiences living the life étrangér in France. It’s nothing new.

In addition to reading the greats, I’ve also found a number of useful blog posts about the secret life of les françaises, many are Paris-centric, but the rules apply everywhere here…

How to make small talk like a la parisienne (Hip Paris)
Secrets of French Girls (Dead Fleurette)
Anglocisms! (Jennie en France)
My Paris (David Lebovitz)
Paris (Im)Perfect (Sion Dayson)

There is also this drôle instructional video about how to fake French like a pro:

Truth be told, I’ve used some of these techniques with native French speakers. Blowing out my cheeks and throwing up my hands in utter astonishment at something that’s been said gets me through many confusing and incomprehensible conversations. Really.

All in all, it’s been a slog. But we’re getting there. Not quite French, but getting better at faking it.

Coming up… my favourite French and Lyonnais shops! Did you really think I wouldn’t make time for sartorial sorties?