I’ve read on many ex-pat blogs and discussion boards about the difficulty in making friends in France. While I don’t doubt that this can be true, I have found that it is easier if you’re open to trying new experiences and not writing off any possible avenues.
The French tend to really take their time in regards to colleagues because of the risks involved in mixing your personal and professional lives, but it can still result in a friendship over time or if one of you leaves the company. I’m glad that I did not decide the workplace was completely off-limits because this is how I met my first French friend. I would have been her boss, but since she left the company, a friendship is possible now. She is a lovely woman and I look forward to spending time with her again over the holiday break.
While out exploring France, do try a café (or chocolat) gourmand. It’s a lovely offering of mini-desserts with espresso or hot chocolate (or sometimes tea).
I mentioned at the start of this post that one shouldn’t write off any options because I met my second French friend in a most unexpected way. I have determined that I do not want all of my friends to be American and British ex-pats, and I know there are others who feel the same way, but some ex-pats really make an effort to avoid befriending any other ex-pats (or I’ve read they do). While I can understand the desire to integrate into French society through having French friends, if I had excluded all Anglo ex-pats from my social circle, I would never have met my second French friend. He’s the neighbor of my American co-worker and new to the area, so he’s also interested in meeting people. So, we’re now friends and exploring the area to see if we can add even more friends to our group (or have a good time trying anyway)!
I haven’t told him that I blog yet so, for his privacy, we’ll call him Pierre(he knows now, hates the name Pierre & said to use his real name). So far, Alexis and I seem to have several things in common that should make for an enjoyable friendship. I have met a few French men now though and I’m learning that they tend to be really chivalrous, even as friends (or colleagues for that matter). When I first met Alexis, my co-worker mentioned that I have a snake issue. This was in regards to me learning, during my first 3 months here, that there are poisonous snakes (!) in France. We have only very tiny non-poisonous snakes in the area where I’ve lived my whole life. Picture borrowed from the internet of an Asp Viper, which lives in my region.
When I talked to PB about this, he was trying to tell me how to identify the asp vipers and I told him that I wouldn’t get close enough to try! If the blasted thing was in my house, I’d lock myself in the car until someone could remove it. Of course, on weekends he lives quite far away, so there was some discussion of how long I was really willing to sleep in my car (yes, all weekend if a snake is involved)!
Alexis helpfully suggested that the firemen here will come remove snakes for you, so I could simply call them up and I wouldn’t need PB’s help. I’m certainly glad I learned this prior to any horrific snake incidents! This backstory about French snakes is necessary to understand the below example of how chivalrous French men really are. Your new male French friend is likely to happily offer his help . . . of course, in my case, he also clarified he’s no (snake-killing) fire person; however, he clarified that he’ll kill my snakes, so I think we’ll manage just fine!