Top 5 Cultural Differences: France vs. US

Air Conditioning

This first difference can be seen all over Europe, but was especially noticeable when it hit 100 degrees one week when I was in Paris.  Majority of stores and residences do not have air conditioning because of the concern for the environment.  While it can be easy for people to go on about their day without AC, for those who are accustomed to it (like Americans), it can be a bit more challenging.  To survive, keep finding constant ways to be cool and keep hydrated.  The worst of it was not being prepared of being unable to escape the heat!

Speaking the Language

France has the stereotype of being stuck up and rude when it comes to interacting with Americans.  From what I have found, this is only because the French take such pride in their language and want to keep it pure with in their country.  Since I knew some French, I always started out with speaking the language rather than English.  There was a world of difference in the service I got when I spoke English verse when I spoke French.  Even if it is only a few words, they appreciate the fact that you are trying to learn their culture while you are in their country.

Store Hours

In France, it is custom for a business not to be open one day of the week to give workers a day off.  This goes for everything- grocery stores, cafés, even the Louvre, so you can imagine how confused I was when I arrived in Paris on a Sunday and was unable to buy groceries.  I learned this lesson quickly and from then on always checked the store hours of a business before I went to shop there.

Public Bathrooms

Rarely will you find a pubic bathroom any place in Paris, and if you do- it probably won’t be free.  Located on streets near bigger attractions like the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame you can find public restrooms that cost usually no more than 1 euro.  But make sure you are ready to wait in line because each time a person uses the bathroom, the toilet does a 20 second self-cleaning process before the next person can use it.My strategy to solving this problem?  Use the bathroom whenever you get the chance- even if you don’t have to go.  Before I ever left a restaurant or my dorm I made sure to go to avoid any emergencies!


After using the Paris metro for 6 weeks, I can say that I will miss it.  Some parts more than others but the quickness and easy use of the metro gave me the ability to get to anywhere I wanted to in Paris.  Everyone uses the metro and bus system in Paris (no one owns cars!!) because of its effortless use and vast majority with in the city.  The metro was built so that there would be a stop with in walking five minutes from each other.  So, if you ever get lost in Paris, just start walking in any direction and eventually you will find a metro stop with a map of where you a

Trains, in general are a very popular in France.  There are probably at least 5 large trains stations within Paris that will take you anywhere you want to go in Europe.  They are very easy to use and navigate and you can hop right on literally five minutes before the train leaves.  The agility and simple use of transportation not just in France but in Europe overall, makes in very easy to travel to new places.


4 (Easy) Day Trips from Paris


Since Versailles is only 30 minutes away from Paris by the RER, it is an accessible sight to visit right outside of the city.  Versailles is most famously known for the beautiful palace and the extravagant gardens.  My favorite part was just walking around the gardens and finding hidden treasures in the vastness of the beauty.  Versailles can easily take you the entire day with its great size, so make sure you bring your comfortable walking shoes, water and your camera, of course!

Loire Valley Region

Loire Valley is known for many things.  Their weather, the wine, but most importantly the chateaus.  There are over 300 different chateaus in the Loire Valley, which makes for a great day trip or a long weekend.  All chateaus are within a 2-hour range, making them easily accessible based on your route.  Personally, the chateaus I got to visit were Amboise, Chateau de Chambord, Chateau de Chenonceau.  The trip was split up in between two days, and I was able to explore and spend the night in Tours for pretty inexpensive.  Tours is a great little town which encompasses the culture of Loire Valley and could also make for its own great day trip.

Nice, France

Although I was in Nice for a weekend, it was still an easy excursion to take when visiting Paris.  For the cheapest option, you can take the train round-trip for about 120 euro easily.  The trip by train is a little over 5 hours, or you can take the night train (like me), if you want an even cheaper option.  While train is usually the fastest way around Europe, Nice does have the second largest airport in France, so there are flights from Paris to Nice daily.

Once there, you can easily embrace the beauty and tranquility of French Rivera.  Most of my time was spent enjoying the beach (since there are none in Paris!) and relaxing.  With warning, the beach is all rock instead of sand, so make sure you invest appropriately! While the coast is very alluring, I also recommend wandering the streets of Nice.  Exploring this quaint town will reveal the colorful French style buildings, a café on every corner, and gelato to die for.  Overall, the trip was a great experience to reveal what typical European coastal city life is like.


If you’re looking for a quick way to escape France for a bit, Brussels is the perfect way to explore a new culture.  Since it is only an hour and a half away by train, it’s the ideal day trip.  If you don’t know already, Brussels is famous for waffles, chocolate and beer, and luckily you can find one of those three on every street.  I have never seen such extravagant waffles and so many chocolate shops in my life! Majority of the day was spent walking around the Grand Place are admiring the beautiful architecture and roaming the streets of the city.  It was a lot of walking, but it definitely came along with a lot of fun and memories!