100 Things we Love about France

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Today is my 100th blog post! As it’s a special number I thought I’d mix things up a little and share with you 100 things that we, as a family, love about France. I asked Roddy and the children to join in. We spent many evenings around the supper table bouncing ideas back and forth, Izzi contributed via Skype. It was absolutely fascinating; we all had different suggestions, some more random and bizarre than others! Many things are not exclusive to France and the list we produced is in no particular order. It’s also not to be taken too literally; rather it’s to be read as a whole so it paints a picture of what makes life in this country so special for us and do add your own personal suggestions.

  1. The Charente Maritime, of course!
  2. Paris, who doesn’t love Paris?
  3. baguettes, a part of daily life in FranceIMG_5852
  4. Citroen 2CV; the iconic French car
  5. school lunches
  6. statues in the middle of the roundabouts; here almost every roundabout (traffic-circle) is named and has a statue or symbol in the middle of it depicting whatever it is the area is well-known for ; this one is on the edge of the River Seudre, which is home to many oyster farms, hence some ginormous hands shucking an oysterScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 17.43.40
  7. boulangeries
  8. la bise; lots of friendly kissing  with a ‘bonjour‘ or an ‘au revoir
  9. roadside stands selling fruits de mer; these are the fast food outlets of our area which is the oyster capital of FranceIMG_5013
  10. the weather (well most of the time!)
  11. saucisson
  12. French Cheese; Roddy typically chose this one!
  13. Duralex glasses; original tempered Picardie glasses still produced in France and known as the “original French tumblers”IMG_5874
  14. Galleries Lafayette; our favourite department store
  15. churches; I could gaze at them for hours and love the peace that envelopes me the minute I walk insideIMG_8805
  16. manoirs
  17. Gamm Vert; a farmers store/garden centre/hardware shop with a fresh produce and wine section which also happens to sell supplies for all animals, plus live chickens!
  18. long lunch hours
  19. the architecture
  20. shutters in all sorts of coloursIMG_4871
  21. ancient covered market-halls
  22. walled gardens; I cannot tell you how much I love walled gardens!IMG_5797
  23. the language; it truly is a beautiful language and I love hearing our children chatter away as if they were locals. It fills me with immense pride
  24. charcuterie
  25. menu du jour; reasonably priced and excellent qualityIMG_5653
  26. the French Atlantic islands just off the coast of the Charente Maritime
  27. family meals; because everyone here still understands the importance of eating together
  28. the empty roads; for the most part driving in France is a real pleasureIMG_4909
  29. Les Miserables; an all time favourite
  30. the quality of life
  31. the Tour de France
  32. country cottages; if only we had a few less children, I could happily live in a tiny cosy cottage!IMG_5754 2
  33. Decathlon; our favourite sports shop and one we visit far too frequently!
  34. the Eiffel Tower
  35. cyclists and all that bright coloured lycra; on the road in France cyclists rule; always give them plenty of space and only overtake them when it’s completely safe
  36. Champagne is always a good idea!
  37. wine; incredibly cheap and so much choice
  38. Pastis; the French aperitifScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 16.51.03
  39. trains, train stations and the super fast TGV
  40. La Rochelle; if we can’t go to Paris very often because we are too far away then La Rochelle, just half an hour down the road, is the perfect alternative and a much loved summer destination for Parisians themselves
  41. the Mairie in every village
  42. all those wonderful maisons de maîtreIMG_8749
  43. Babolat tennis rackets and tennis shoes
  44. French Marans hens
  45. and French Faverolle roosters
  46. the enormous span of history that the land has undergone
  47. Limousin cattle
  48. French patisserie, croissants and pain au chocolats
  49. les macarons;  what’s not to love!Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 18.23.55
  50. Santons; the handmade little clay figurines of saints which we put around the crib at Christmas
  51. the French potager; the perfectly beautiful vegetable garden
  52. interior style
  53. wandering (or running) through the vineyardsIMG_3875 (1)
  54. the passion the French have for yachting and their yachting heroes
  55. village schools
  56. the French fish counter (le poissonerie)
  57. general politeness and good manners
  58. red terracotta roofsIMG_4894
  59. the culture
  60. nesting storks which our area is renowned for
  61. French Jack Russell’s (Evie’s suggestion)IMG_5673
  62. Mi-choc; Millie’s favourite caramel covered in dark chocolate. They were introduced to us by a French friend; Bertrand – you have no idea what you have started!
  63. the French sense of humour
  64. old doors and gatesIMG_8814
  65. our neighbours; the best anyone could ever have.
  66. incredible tennis facilities; indoor and outdoor courts in every town
  67. small economical diesel cars
  68. double-decker carouselsIMG_3268
  69. you can buy a bottle of wine in the bakery! (another of Roddy’s observations)
  70. the baguette vending-machines
  71. the parking that’s free for two hours every lunchtime between 12 and 2.
  72. Badoit; my favourite French bottled waterIMG_5663
  73. the youngest children being able to walk to and from school, unaccompanied
  74. sunflower fields
  75. lavender fields
  76. the villages and the countrysideIMG_5784
  77. the wonderful Marais de Brouage; 16000 hectares of freshwater and ancient salt marshes, home to incredible wildlife, and perfect for walking and cycling
  78. the Fire salamanders that live in our garden
  79. French fashion
  80. our endless Atlantic beachesIMG_0200 (2)
  81. English words in the French language; Le Shopping, Le Weekend, Le Parking, and Non-Stop, to name but a few
  82. the wonderful walking opportunities
  83. French Gardens; the formality is awe-inspiringIMG_9336
  84. 14th July, Bastille Day; lots of celebrations and parties, torchlit processions and fireworks
  85. crêpes and galettes (the traditional buckwheat pancake)
  86. les châteauxIMG_9350 (1)
  87. French impressionism and its artists; Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas and all the others
  88. street cafesIMG_5762
  89. the mighty Gironde estuary
  90. the Marseilleise (the French national anthem)
  91. truffles and truffle oil
  92. mushroom hunting for ceps, girolles and chanterelles
  93. french open-air markets; not just for the goods on offer but for the rituals and peopleIMG_2270
  94. Chambres d’hôtes
  95. Brocantes
  96. Vide-Greniers (the equivalent of a car-boot sale)IMG_5757
  97. the general lack of bling and materialism
  98. the magnificent Pyrenees; a mountain range with legends that go back 3000 years

The 99th thing has to be my blog, because without France there would be no Our French Oasis.

And the 100th has to be you, the readers, who read me whilst I am writing here in our 200 year old farmhouse in France!

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91 thoughts on “100 Things we Love about France

  • Might I add: citron Presse. Brioche. Bresse chicken. Radio Nostalgie. Rondini. St. Trop. Citypharma in Paris. Abbaye Citraux cheese. Aperitifs. Geant Hypermarche. Theoule-sur-mer. …….

    • Nothing quite like your blog to get a girl relaxed and appreciative.of the day’s pleasant things. Mary McFarren

      • Hi Mary, thank you so much, I am a firm believer in trying to focus on all that is positive, it helps us all immensely cope with the things that are not so good in life. Have a wonderful weekend. Susan x

  • Of course you can, the list goes on and on, it was quite difficult to choose which to add! Citron presse, a big favourite here and we didn’t even think of it and Brioche Hetty and Gigi’s gouter of choice, maybe I should have made it 200 things!!! Susan X

  • Lovely-and timely! Out dinner conversation included how school lunch in France is considered a very important part of the day-for nourishment of the body and spirit-and a few table manners as well! It would do is well to do diene with our 10 minute ( by the time we sit down) lunch and adopt France’s shook lunch culture-it honestly could shift our whole culture. Thank you Susan

    • Hi Cynthia, I do totally agree, lunch is very much a part of the school day here, the youngest two sit at tables properly laid for four or six. They are served and they have the chance to say yes please, no thank you, or just a little! They are offered second helpings. Lunch is just like an adult meal, three of four courses, it’s very civilised but also great fun and afterwards they have at least 45 minutes in the playground. Jack and Millie are older and at a much bigger school and so their meals are served canteen style, but still three courses, healthy solid meals and they still sit at small tables and take their time, nothing is hurried. Lunch is definitely a high point of the day! Susan x

    • Hi Debbie, we do really well here for markets, I could go to a local one every day if I chose, but there are hardly ever any on Sunday’s and we don’t have many night ones which is a shame as they are so atmospheric, but I guess we can’t have everything!!! Great to have you commenting on the blog, Susan x

  • It must have been difficult to narrow it down to only 100! However I do you you and your family successfully picked the most lovely things that France offers. One of my all time favorites are the little roast chestnuts at Christmastime, they are so much more delicious in France for some reason.

    • Hi Lily, it was actually really difficult and now so many people have suggested things I am thinking maybe we should have made it 200, there are so many things we didn’t add that we probably should have! I love freshly roasted chestnuts, an absolute winter favourite I agree, Susan x

  • Great list! And: the top-quality health-care system, the fact that they make liqueur out of almost anything, Moussier Tombola and “Corde à Sauter,” “Les Bronzés”

    • Thank you, great additions, it was hard to narrow it down to 100 and now I think I should have made it 200! Gigi has to use her skipping rope for tennis fitness training, she has three drills she does each day, to make her quicker and lighter on her feet! Susan x

      • There’s a song, “Corde a Sauter,” with a wonderfully madcap video. It’s played at birthday parties, camping dance nights, etc. Kind of like the Macarena but crazier.

      • Oh how that made me laugh, last night I wondered why skipping ropes (jump ropes) were a favourite thing! I have never heard of the song, but I did find it online and when the two youngest came home from school with four of their French friends in tow as well I played them the video. All six of them starred at it blankly, the French children had never heard of it either. So I am guessing it never became popular in the Charente Maritime! At least it’s not just the English who knew nothing about it. I feel a little less silly now!!!

      • Thank goodness for Google, never heard of Royal Kid either!! But guess what I now know all about it and I have also learnt that although it is throughout France there are none in the Charente Maritime! No wonder I had so many blank stares. That’s what I love about blogging, I learn something new every day! Have a lovely weekend, Susan x

  • Sitting here with my coffee reading this fabulous list. Congratulations on 100 posts! I too have the Picardie glasses here in the US and miss Badoit terribly! I also like your lovely wine glasses – are they Duralex?

    • Hi Elaine, thank you so much, I love the way drinks are served here in cafes and restaurants with matching glasses and bottles, it’s rather fun. The Picardie glasses are an iconic French glass, I love them! The wine glasses are made in France but they are not Duralex, but they look identical, the base is just stamped made in France. As far as I am away Picardie only make tumblers. I bought these wine glasses years ago in a little shop in Biarritz in France because I just loved the simplicity of them. They are our everyday wine glasses! Susan x

    • So glad to hear that. So many things make me smile and as you probably know I am totally in love with stone walls. But now the garden is taking over, it’s that time of year and I am in love with all of our plants again!!! Susan x

  • SO happy to receive your post today and congratulations on your 100th post!! So much pleasure you have given your readers in that time! Love your list–and the accompanying photos!! Beautiful!

    • Hi Anne, thank you so much, I can’t quite believe it’s been 100 posts, now onto the next 100! It’s been a lot of fun and thank you for taking the time to comment, this is what makes it all worthwhile. Susan x

    • Hi Nancy, thank you so much, the pleasure, I can assure you is all mine, it is so much fun sharing our life here with everyone, it’s like having lots and lots of friends around the world and telling them everything we are doing. Susan x

  • What a rich list. So many wonderful things, and your photos with them are beautiful. Congratulations on such a milestone.
    Or should that be “kilometer-stone”?

    • Hi Emm, thanks so much, I think I’ll stick to milestone, it’s a great deal simpler! The list could go on and on, but I think we chose the things that really are part of our lives. Susan x

  • Hello Susan, from another English lady living in France. I’ve just found your blog via Penny who’s blog is Comforts of Home. I’ve just skimmed through a few of your previous posts and thoroughly enjoyed your daughters wonderful post. I already know I’m going to enjoy following your life in France. This post declares all the things I would choose if asked the same question , especially the children’s school lunch. I can remember collecting my grandsons from school and they would describe what they had eaten for lunch like reading a menu, such as , ‘ roti de porc et pomme de terre purée ‘ I’ve now lived here in the Haute Vienne ‘ for 26 yrs in the beginning I missed a lot of things, but after so many trials and the difficulty learning the language, I wouldn’t ever go back to England. I’l be back soon to read lots more, looking forward to reading the post from your dog !

    • Hi Barbara, welcome to the blog and great to have you following along. School lunches are definitely a big feature here, I love the menu we get once a month, in advance, so that we can plan our evening meal accordingly and not duplicate what they have eaten for lunch. I would happily eat at their schools! It sounds as if you are totally immersed in French life now and obviously loving it. Let me know if you ever head westwards towards the coast, would be fun to meet. Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is so very much appreciated. Susan x

  • My all time favourite Louis de Funes an comic genius, BB animal loving actress, Gypsy Kings, Mireileille Mathieu I could go on for a long time just the talent would easily make another hundred

    • Hi Beth, thanks, it was a fun idea, something a little different and I thought it made a nice change. Duralex glasses it seems are loved the world over, so simple and yet so perfect. Susan x

    • Hi, it was great fun, but very much harder than I thought it would be, it took forever to sort it all out! The village is Mornac-sur-Seudre, it’s incredibly pretty, but gets very busy in the height of the summer, much better at this time of year! Susan x

  • Croissantes! We go into withdrawal every time we return home. They just aren’t the same, unless you find a bakery owned by a French person. Loved your list, makes me want to live there!

  • as a keen French tourist I may also name the ‘French movie’ and their fantastic stars,
    like Michel Piccoli, Cath. Deneuve etc., the Parisian Metro, the FrenchChansons etc. and your gorgeous farm house.

    • Hi, there are indeed so many fantastic French movie stars, the list could go on and on. I’m so glad you love our old farmhouse, it has it’s faults and difficulties, but we love it! Susan x

  • Lovely! I’m so happy to have recently found you, to be able to join in your celebration, and to share in the next 100 posts.

    • Hi Cyndi, thank you, I am so happy you have found the blog and are following along. Can’t wait to start on the next hundred posts! Also thank you for taking the time to comment, it is really what makes all of this so very worthwhile, chatting with everyone, thank you. Susan x

  • A pretty comprehensive list, so I won’t add anything. But I must say I kept nodding my head , yes, to virtually every line as I read through it. Congrats on 100 posts and capturing the essence of French life.

    • Thank you Mary, the list took quite a while to put together, we had to really think of what was special to us, I am so glad you enjoyed it! French life seems to agree with our family! Susan X

  • Bonsoir Susan. Et j’ ajoute : chapeau Madame ! 100 blogs en 18 mois soit une moyenne de 5-6 topics par mois, c’ est remarquable. Je ne connais pas d’ autre blog aussi bien suivi, aussi bien écrit et aussi passionnant. Je le lis comme un roman feuilleton digne d’ une écrivaine de talent ! A votre liste je n’ ajouterais rien ou presque ( jeu de boules ” la Pétanque ” en été avec un verre de Pastis ) car vous n’ avez rien oublié ! Votre famille est devenue française de coeur et d’ esprit ( A quand une demande de nationalité ? ). Votre amour profond et constant de ce pays m’ émerveille et m’ émeut de plus en plus./ good evening Susan.And I would add : hats off Lady! 100 blogs in 18 months for an average of 5-6 topics per month, it is remarkable. I don’t know any blogs so followed, so well-written and so exciting. I read it like a serialized novel worthy of a talent woman writer. To your great list I’ ll add nothing because almost nothing is lacking ( just ” la Pétanque” as national summer game in association with Pastis ). Your family became french in your hearts and in your minds. Your deep and constant love for France marvel and move me increasingly. Merci beaucoup.

    • Merci Mille fois Philippe, you brought tears to my eyes quite literally, what a lovely comment, I am sure I don’t deserve it at all, but thank you so much. AS a family we have truly embraced French life and I really believe living here is giving our children such a wonderful childhood, just yesterday Gigi was in the garden with me telling me yet again how she absolutely loves it here, they are the ones who inspire me to write along with the beautiful countryside and the people here who have been so welcoming. Merci encore, Susan x

    • Philippe, I should have added Pétanque to the list. We play it a lot in the summer. My father introduced me to the game when I was a child, we would play on the lawn at home, in England, all summer! Susan x

  • What an absolutely wonderful post! I don’t even know the translation for several of the items on the list, but I’m pinning it nonetheless. This could be my bucket list and I’d die a happy woman if I could cross of 1/4 of them!
    Rita

  • What a terrific idea to post 100 things you love about France for your 100th blog. I love everything on the list, well those I’m familiar with. Thanks for sharing your wonderful life.

    • Hi Paulita, thank you for taking the time to comment and I am sorry I have only just replied. For some reason your comments, all three, on three posts, went into spam and I have only just found them now, still better late than never! Great to have you following along and commenting, thank you, Susan x

  • – Moules et frites
    – Concorde
    – a cold ‘demi’ looking out on a dusty pavement from under an umbrella
    – facing a large charcuterie counter with an empty trolley
    – the madness that is the Champs de Elysee
    – the Citroen DS 21 (yeah, I’m old enough to remember them)

    The list is endless, Susan. Anyone who’s ever been to France will be bale to add something. Great post…..

    • Hi Phil, I can see you have many favourites and have obviously spent plenty of time here enjoying so much that France has to offer, I agree the list is endless but it is also so much fun reading about what other people love so much and the things that stick in their minds. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Susan x

  • Wow! Look at all these comments! Congratulations on hitting 100 blog entries! That’s really something to be proud of. Loved this list. I SO want to come and eat French cheese with Roddy; go traipsing through the countryside with the children; and have coffee with you in your walled garden, surrounded by dogs, cats, chickens, and children. I’m working on it…. xoxoxo

    • Hi Nancy, Thank you! I think we should have coffee in the walled garden in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening! I truly cannot wait to show you around, just make sure you choose a month when the weather is half decent, because there is so much we should do and so much is weather dependent! You will love standing at the cheese stall at the market, sampling the cheeses and just marvelling at the huge array, I know you will love all of it! Xxx

  • Hi Susan & Family,
    Thank-you so much for the first ‘100’, many congratulations. I will raise a glass to the next 100. Love your list, love France, yay!

    • Hi Petrina, thank you so much, I will gladly raise a glass with you to the next 100, can’t wait and already have several posts lined up! It’s been a lot of fun, so much to be grateful for and so much to share and thank you for taking the time to comment, that is what makes it all worthwhile! Here’s to France! Susan x

    • Hi, Fabulous to have you come over from IG, I must say how much I love your photos and I can quite see why you say French historical roses. Everyone said last summer was an exceptional year for roses here and I am hoping this summer will be the same. They seem to love this climate and grow really well, our only real problem is aphids, I hate spraying and so I have become quite adept at squishing them off with a pair of gardening gloves on! Susan x

    • Hi, ooh yes that little square of chocolate, dark and rich, the perfect partner to the coffee. I think I need to go into Rochefort tomorrow and sit at the street cafe and have a coffee! Susan x

    • Thank you Shirley, now looking forward to the next 100 and I have to admit living here I am never short of ideas or things to write about, so it really makes it so much easier! have a lovely weekend, Susan x

  • Susan
    Your “Tour De France” was a delightful way to start the day! Thank you for taking the time the sharing all those memories.

    We need to start planning our next visit

    Lots of love from Stuart Florida!

    Greg

    • Hi, what a lovely thing to say and thank you. I know it might sound a bit bizarre but I really do think of everyone as friends – I chatter away about all the trivial stuff we do and you are all kind enough to listen, to respond and to take an interest in our lives. I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know you all. Have a lovely weekend, Susan x

  • Hi really love your blog , my husband and I seriously thinking about buying a property in France to spend holdays then half our time when we retire ( can’t leave our gorgeous family full time ) you have really inspired me , emailed Adrian and Penny after seeing b&b on your blog may stay there in July if we can organise dates . thank you again for sharing your life x

    • Hi Bernadotte, welcome to the blog, fabulous to have you following along and I am so happy to have inspired you. I do hope you get to stay with Penny and Adrian, their B&B is fabulous, do say you heard about them through me and do let me know if you come over and stay there, would love to meet up. Very best wishes Susan x

    • There are just so many things to love about life here, perhaps that is what makes the lifestyle so good, it makes it so much easier to focus on the positive things! Susan x

  • Congratulations Susan! 100 posts, you must feel really proud and rightfully so. I really enjoy reading you, it brightens my day and keeps firing the intention to visit France once we are both retired, maybe stay in a village and just sort of ‘live’ there for 3 weeks or so. We can’t move there now, but maybe we can have little experiences of daily life and learn the language at the same time. I like the sound of the long lunches. If only our schools would take this attitude, it would be so good for the children. My parents used to say ‘The family who eats together stays together’ and I think that has a lot of truth to it. Thank you for a lovely post. Sorry for late comment, but had a busy time lately and only just had time to catch up! Have a lovely week.

    • Hi Marian, three weeks in France sounds like the perfect present to yourselves on your retirement. Long lunches, learning French and just watching the world go by! Never apologise for late comments, I am always so appreciative of any comments especially as we all lead such busy lives. I am going to remember you parents quote, “the family who eats together stays together” – sounds very true to me! Susan x

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