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    18 French Things I Really, Really Wish Existed In The US

    They're not all food related, I promise.

    Hi! I'm Evie. I'm American, but I spent last year (and several stints before that) living in the land of cheese, pastry, and wine — also known as France. These days, I’m back in the US, but there are tons of things I miss about my second home.

    🇫🇷Here they are:🇫🇷

    1. Baguette Tradition

    Woman holds a baguette in an outdoor market
    Evie Carrick

    As basic as it sounds, this might be the French food I miss the most. In the US, good bread is a specialty, and the price reflects that. In France, it's the norm — and it’s cheap. A perfectly chewy baguette tradition (the traditional baguette) — with a crunchy exterior — costs around 1 euro. I’ve never eaten so much bread in my life. I would eat baguette with butter and jam for breakfast, grab one to go with dinner, or order a demi baguette (half a baguette) for a quick snack. They’re that good.

    Check out: 19 Truly French Foods You Have To Eat At Least Once

    2. Pop-Up Flea Markets

    A rack of fur jackets being sold at an outdoor flea market on the street
    Evie Carrick

    In Paris, there are daily brocantes (flea markets) and vide-greniers (garage sales) on the streets. Some happen regularly, like the Brocante de la place d'Aligre, but my favorites are the ones that feel as though a bunch of neighbors just got together and decided to sell their unwanted belongings on the sidewalk on a random Saturday. During my time there, I scored a vintage leather purse for 20 euros and an amazing dress for 3 euros. Digging around and feigning disinterest to drive down the price is half the fun.

    3. Sparkling-Water Fountains

    4. Intercity Trains

    The hands of three people clinking plastic cups of wine on the train
    Evie Carrick

    The public transportation in Paris is fantastic, but what makes living in the city truly amazing is France's high-speed intercity train network. From Paris, you can hop on a morning train to Biarritz to surf in the afternoon or take the train to see the Renaissance architecture of La Rochelle in less than three hours. Unlike the American train system, France's trains crisscross the country and make stops in small villages as well as major cities.

    If you book early, you can find great fares, and there’s usually a café on board, so you can pop a bottle of wine and sit back while watching the French countryside pass you by. Bliss.

    5. Tarte Aux Fraises

    6. Pétanque

    People playing pétanque on a gravel court in Paris
    Evie Carrick

    No matter where you go in France, you’re likely to find a group of old men gathered around an open patch of dirt or gravel playing pétanque, a game similar to bocce. There are playing areas all over Paris, and the game is easy to learn: Someone throws a small target ball (called a cochonnet), and then the two teams take turns tossing their boules (metal balls) toward the target. The team whose boule is closest to the target ball wins the round. While it’s typically favored by older men, I got myself a pétanque set (another flea market purchase) and became an addict.

    Check out: 16 Must-Do Paris Activities That Won't Cost You A Cent

    7. Pain Suisse au Chocolat

    8. The Low-Key Approach to Exercise

    pedestrians walk down the busy Avenue des Champs-Elysees
    Mediaproduction / Getty Images

    There are definitely runners and gym rats in France, but in general I noticed that people have a more casual approach to exercise. The American style of working out — a 6 a.m. Spin class followed by a spirulina smoothie and a post-work gym session — doesn’t seem to appeal to the French. They tend to get their “steps” in by walking to and from the metro, doing their errands on foot, or riding their bike to work. I loved the more easygoing approach (and the extra sleep).

    9. Jambon-Beurre

    10. Galette

    11. The Two-Hour Lunch

    12. Really, Really Good Tomatoes

    Boxes of tomatoes and other veggies at a farmers market stall
    Evie Carrick

    You know how a tomato tastes different when you grow it yourself? That's how they all taste in France. I don’t know why the flavor is so amazing, but it is. And tomatoes are just one of many things that actually taste different there. The apples are extra crunchy, and my favorite fruit, dates (don’t judge), are noticeably softer and fresher.

    13. Picnic Culture

    Groups of people gather in a green park for a picnic
    Evie Carrick

    Paris apartments are small (I lived in a 250-square-foot studio), and almost no one has their own garden or yard, so when the weather is nice, everyone heads to the park or the banks of the Seine River. I adore it. Nothing beats spending the afternoon lounging on a blanket and people-watching while drinking white wine directly out of the bottle and eating a split baguette stuffed with Brie, mustard, and apples.

    14. The Lack of Forced Small Talk

    Fox

    An American in a group of strangers is likely to introduce themself, ask questions, and share their story (where they’re from, what they do for work, etc.). At least that’s how I operate. But while I was trying to navigate the French social scene, I noticed that people tended to be annoyed by my forced chitchat. When I finally stopped trying so hard, I realized that for them, a little awkward silence is no big deal — and is even preferred.

    It honestly took me six months to get used to this way of interacting (or lack thereof), but now I miss it. I waste so much energy trying to fill the silence — be it with the friend of a friend at a barbecue or the person making my Subway sandwich. I miss the no-nonsense French approach.

    15. Fête de la Musique

    Group of musicians stand on the sidewalk playing music for an audience
    Evie Carrick

    The French have a tendency to act aloof and unimpressed with most things, so I'll never forget everyone's uncharacteristic excitement the week of the Fête de la Musique (Music Day). On June 21, when the days are long, musicians congregate on sidewalks and the locals flood the streets. On one corner might be a 12-piece brass band, and half a block down, you might hear the beats of a DJ or a reggae group. It's a day of drinking and dancing to tunes made by musicians of every skill level. No wonder the French are so proud.

    16. Fromageries

    Six types of cheese in a display cooler
    Evie Carrick

    There’s nothing more French-feeling than going into a dedicated fromagerie (cheese shop) and ordering a wedge of Comté or a cut of Camembert. The entire process — requesting a sample, discussing the taste and texture, and watching them wrap your favorites in waxed paper — is SO wonderfully French. And for me, after months of studying French, managing to do it with my newfound second language felt like a rite of passage (thank you, Alliance Française).

    17. Café Culture

    18. Cheap (but Good) Wine

    Couple raising glasses with red and white wine in Bordeaux, France
    Pjphoto69 / Getty Images

    According to 2012 stats, France is the world's biggest consumer of wine, and the average French person drinks almost 47 liters — or nearly 63 bottles — of wine a year. But trust me, no one’s paying $20 to $30 a bottle. You can buy a bottle of high-quality French wine for 5 euros (under $6) at the grocery store or pick up a demi bottle (half size) for even less.

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    illustrated city skyline
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