Depending on where you live, what you’re used to and how observant you are, a trip to France might seem very familiar or like you’ve landed on Mars. Or a mix depending on the day. But know what you won’t find all over the place? The American concepts I’ve listed below. In many cases, that’s a good thing — France is its own country, after all. But a few things on my list would probably delight the French and foreigners alike (or maybe just me). One day…
American concepts that don’t exist in France
Maybe these things do exist here and there, but as a whole, France hasn’t made them the norm. And that’s OK because France is a different country. Some of the things I mention aren’t necessarily American inventions but are just things we commonly find in the USA.
Here’s my big ol’ list of American concepts (or things you’d commonly find in the USA even if they’re not actually American) that don’t exist in France:
- AMC dine-in theaters where you have the option to eat a full meal with wine in front of the silver screen.
- Coin counter machines like the ones at TD Bank (no commission if you have an account) or Coinstar (takes a fee) that are a great alternative to the time-consuming process of manually putting coins in paper sleeves and bringing them to the bank. With a coin counter machine, just dump your bucket of coins in the machine and in about a minute, you get cash. I can’t say I’ve ever seen one of these in France.
- Drive-thru pharmacies (and banks). If you’re pressed for time, lazy or just don’t want to go into the pharmacy, the drive-thru is really convenient, especially after hours. In France, the pharmacy experience is very personalized and a cultural phenomenon so not sure we’ll ever see drive-thru pharmacies in France become mainstream.
- Air conditioning. As Je Parle Americain puts it, “Air conditioning is one of the most brilliant inventions in human history. You recognize this undeniable truth when you no longer have it.” Isn’t that the truth! In my house without a/c, if you sit around doing nothing and close the volets when the temps top 90F, the heat can be bearable but if you put on makeup and a suit for work and have to actually move, sweat trickling down your face and back before you even step out the door really sucks.
- Breakfasts with non-sweet foods like eggs, sausage, bacon, etc. Although Tom has adapted and loves bacon and eggs for breakfast, he gravitates toward sweet things like most French people.
- Pickup trucks. You see them here and there but nowhere near as often as in the US. Although they exist, pickup trucks are pretty rare in France and are used to actually haul stuff and not just for the look. Workmen usually drive a different kind of vehicle to haul their gear that looks like a van/truck.
- Line etiquette. In France it seems like people will make 5 different lines behind 5 different cashiers in the pharmacy or one line for each self-checkout machine instead of one big line. So this means people who arrive after you may get helped before you if they choose the fast line. Etiquette is very different here and I can’t say it’s more efficient.
- Coffee to-go. Dunkin’ Donuts style & iced coffee in general. I miss my to-go coffee. And especially my to-go iced coffee during the warmer months. A few Starbucks-style coffee shops have popped up around the region and I make it a point to pop in whenever we see one.
- Deli coldcuts. Stocking up on a half pound of Boar’s Head turkey, ham and American cheese is a luncthime staple but you won’t find it in France. The butcher does have some ham and various meats but it’s not the same. If you want some ham or turkey, grab 4 slices in a sealed plastic pack instead.
- Boutique fitness studios. There are a few fitness studios in big cities but in the suburbs, aside from normal gyms, the boutique fitness scene is years behind the American scene. There’s no yoga offered at my gym and no yoga studios in town let alone anything else that’s more trendy. This is one of the things I miss the most, as silly as it might seem to some, because of what a huge part of my life studies were back in the US. The Bar Method and Soul Cycle an the like are super popular in the US right now and I reallllly miss going to classes. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out.
- Self-serve frozen yogurt or froyo in general. This is a crying shame for froyo lovers like me. Although there are a few shops around France in bigger cities, frozen yogurt places aren’t widespread in France and they don’t compare to the big names in the US. When it comes to regular yogurt though, France has no shortage of that!
Any other American concepts you’d add?
**Hey French bloggers who are living in the US, I’d love to see a piece on French concepts that haven’t caught on in the US. Feel free to link your blog post on that in the comments!**