The washing machine in our French house takes over two hours to do a single load. There’s no dryer so we’re hanging our clothes on the line out in the garden, or at least we tried that and after six hours everything was still wet. This morning we draped our jeans and khakis over the pool furniture in the sun hoping they will dry in time to wear when we go out later. Laundry in France just isn’t the easy process we Americans are use to. In contrast, the English of our party think this is totally normal.
In the past week, I’ve been reminded of the many differences between the US and France. Outside of Paris, most places—businesses, stores—close between noon and 2:00 or even 3:00. Forget grocery shopping at a supermarket during those hours, they’re not open. Restaurants are full of people having a leisurely multi-course meal. Fast food? A quick sandwich? Aside from the traditional filled baguettes, the French frown on such barbaric practices. Sure, McDonald’s has popped up in the larger towns but even then the menu is far different than in the US, offering wine, beer and filled baguettes along with burgers and fries.
Here in the south of France, the pace is slower than in Paris except for the abundance of motorcycles constantly weaving in and out of traffic at an alarming pace. Even though the summer season ended September 1, one gets the impression everyone is either on holiday or catering to the holiday crowd. Yesterday we visited St. Tropez in the afternoon and found the area around the waterfront bustling with activity. Many of the impressive sailboats which participated in the races last week were still tied up at the dock along side of huge motor yachts. The day was sunny and hot. Only the sale signs in the shops indicated the season was over. The sale signs and the lack of celebrities. But the glamor and mystic remained—it was after all St. Tropez.