WTF?!: What the French? by Olivier Magny

WTF

In France, the simple act of eating bread is an exercise in creative problem solving and attempting to spell requires a degree of masochism. But that’s just how the French like it—and in WTF, Oliver Magny reveals the France only the French know. From the latest trends in baby names, to the religiously observed division of church and state, prepare yourself for an insider’s look at French culture that is surprising, insightful, and chock full of bons mots.

 


WTF?!: What the French 
by Olivier Magny

Published August 23, 2016 by Berkley
Format: Netgalley e-book; 288 pages
Nonfiction/Travel/Humor
Also By This Author: Stuff Parisians LikeInto Wine: An Invitation to Pleasure
Author’s Website | GoodreadsAmazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

This book gave me serious homesickness for France! The author is a French native and who is all too familiar with the embarrassing and frustrating cultural barriers that can happen when one visits France. Although I thought WTF?!: What the French was an enlightening and entertaining read, I’d recommend it more to people who have visited or are planning to visit France. You will probably appreciate this book much more if you can compare the author’s opinions with your own personal anecdotes.

The book is divided into 50+ short chapters, each dealing with a specific topic ranging from pop culture to food to politics. Some of these topics are comedic (and will cause you to laugh out loud more than once), while others offer insight into current political events in France.

Here were some of the most noteworthy chapters for me:

Blowing Air – If you aren’t too accustomed with French people, you may think they’re seriously annoyed when they let a small huff of air out of their mouths. Chances are it’s only mild annoyance, but it has become one of my favorite French things to imitate.

La Rando Especially where I lived in the French Alps, family hikes are common weekend or even late afternoon activities. There are plenty of small walking routes to be found, and sometimes you even discover medieval castles on your journey.

“The French like to walk around with no precise goal other than that of enjoying life.”

Ça Va & C’est Pas Possible! The two most used phrases in the French language

“Liberté, égalité, impossibilité”

The English Despite what you may have heard from friends who have visited France, French people are very welcoming and hospitable, and I’ve encountered many natives who will switch to English when they speak with you, or who will be patient and helpful when you’re trying to practice your French.

Eating Rules The 4 hour French meal is not an exaggeration!

I can’t tell you how many times I was laughing out loud while reading WTF?!: What the French. I would constantly stop to reread chapters aloud to my (French) husband, who would proceed to confirm the author’s opinion by doing the exact thing laid out in the chapter. Then we’d both laugh and talk about how much we miss our colorful & expressive France. I only wish this book had been written before I moved to la France in 2012; it would have helped me adapt to and fall in love with the culture much earlier!

Read This Book If…

…you’re a francophile.
…you are open minded to learning about new cultures.
…you’ve ever experience a culture barrier.
…you enjoy books about food and travel.

Final Musings

I will leave you with a couple of hilarious quotes from the book:

“People think of France as the country of cheese. Really, it’s the country of yogurt.”

(There are SEVERAL aisles of yogurts and pudding desserts in French grocery stores)

“Across the globe, countless people view the French as always being on strike, which is unfair. Sometimes; they are on vacation.”

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Thanksgiving Across the Pond

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! I know I’m a little late, but we’ve been pretty occupied over here. On Wednesday we were blessed to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with our closest friends in Grenoble (there were 11 of us total: 4 Americans, 6 French, and Matt, who is more Americanized). It was a fun experience to be able to share one of our country’s biggest holidays (and my personal favorite) with our French friends. We ate a delicious lunch! I’ve been missing all of those typical American dishes: green bean casserole, stuffing, sweet potato souffle, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, and TURKEY! Plus pumpkin pie, which is VERY American.

Besides eating, which we did a lot of, we also talked about the meaning of Thanksgiving courtesy of Charlie Brown, read some thanksgiving scriptures, shared some things we all were thankful for, and PLAYED GAMES! We couldn’t watch the parade or football games because it was Wednesday and 6 hours ahead of EST time, but we did play “paper triangle” football (what is that even called?), which Matt won, a Thanksgiving matching game, and Pictionary which is hilarious when played in 2 different languages. All in all we had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

The hardest part of this past week was not being able to be home. Yesterday my mom threw a surprise 80th birthday party for my grandfather and EVERYONE (except me and one of my cousins) was there. The last time we were all together was for my wedding, but I was so busy before-hand I didn’t get to spend any time with my relatives. I wish I could have teleported to Maryland so badly! But my mom Facetimed me a few times so it was almost like I was there (technology is great, eh?)!

And here’s a crazy French story for you all. Yesterday I went to get a haircut. It was my first time getting a haircut here. The last time my hair was cut was when I was home in May, so I really needed to go get it cut again. I was expecting it to be really nerve-racking because of the language barriers. I know and can comprehend a lot more French now, but I don’t know any hair cutting vocabulary! But Matt came with me and he didn’t even need to translate much. I showed the hair dresser a picture and told her what I wanted and that was that. She did a FANTASTIC job. Here’s a picture:

My new French haircut :)

But the real thing I wanted to share was what happened after the haircut. We went to pay and realized that Matt didn’t have his wallet, or anything for that matter (no permit, no ID, nothing). If only he had realized that at the start of the haircut he could have driven home and back (it’s about a 20-25 minute round trip drive)… We both felt HORRIBLE. But thankfully Matt’s mom has been going to that place for 15 years, and the hair dresser who cut my hair is the one who always cuts Matt’s mom hair. So they said they would put it on her tab and not to worry. It was no problem at all! Too bad they don’t understand the concept of tips here in France, because if that had happened in the U.S. I would have given her a really good one!

So overall I am thankful for grace! And my family and friends, too, of course! Happy Thanksgiving season everyone and Merry Christmas too!

Hillsong Concert in Lyon

On Saturday night we went to Lyon to see Hillsong Paris in concert. It was an incredible experience and a much-needed worship night. We had originally planned on going to the city in the early afternoon since I have never visited Lyon before, but for various reasons we didn’t get there until about an hour and a half before the concert started. But we did visit La Part-Dieu, one of the biggest malls in France (and it was pretty big even by American standards). Lyon is the second biggest city in France, and on a rainy Saturday night EVERYONE was in that mall. We had just enough time to grab some “early” dinner (6pm is early here) and check out a few stores like the Apple and Disney stores.

The concert was in a smallish building but the Hillsong Lyon/Paris crew/members/team were all so welcoming! They had greeters at the entry and they offered free water, coffee, and tea.

Everyone entering into the worship area.

The church that was hosting the concert underestimated the amount of people who would come (by over 150!), so it was pretty crowded in the room, but I should say refreshingly crowded. I haven’t been to a concert in nearly two years, and it was an incredible experience to worship with a bunch of strangers all packed together in one room.

“Welcome home” We were RIGHT at the front!

During the concert they had the lyrics on screens (like they do at nearly every Worship concert), but they had the lyrics in both French and English and also had a translator there for when a couple of different pastors came up to speak (which was nice).

Image

Pastor Brandon White (he from Australia or New Zealand…couldn’t figure out which).

But the BEST part of the night was probably the last three songs where I just let it all go. Everyone in the room was all sweaty–because you know…no AC in France–but we didn’t care! We were all jumping and I know I stepped on the toes of the person behind me at least 10 times because I have no balance. I kept thinking about the last SALT conference I went to (SALT is an annual conference for college students organized by Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship) when Kurt Harlow encouraged us to let it all go while we were worshiping. I don’t remember the exact words he said, but he told us you know when you’re really worshiping when you don’t care how bad you sound; that was definitely me Saturday night.

But in all sincerity, it was a very moving experience. This year has been a hard one for me, especially with worship because most of the time it’s in French, and even if I understand what is being sung, it doesn’t have the same meaning to me because it’s not in my native language. The Hillsong concert was in French, but I knew most of the songs and felt free to worship in English without disturbing others.

Overall I was very blessed to be able to go to the concert. They said they would most likely be back sometime in the beginning of next year and I really hope so! And next time I go to Lyon I will most definitely be stopping by the Starbucks!

“Be Blessed!”

Joining the Blogger World

So lately I’ve been looking for things to do while I’m living in France. It was nice relaxing and traveling a lot for the first six months after I graduated, but now I’m ready to be working again. With my degree I would really love to find a publishing job. I’ve searched for one over here a little, but with not being fluent in French it’s been hard to find one. Therefore, I’ve decided to keep a blog for now, which I hope will be nice for my family and friends in America to know what is going on in my life while I’m “across the pond” in France.

Also, I would love for anyone reading this to post comments and share your blog with me, if you have one. This is my first blog and I am already enjoying the experience quite a lot!