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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Advice: The Things you SHOULD Know About France

France is a very interesting country full of ton of historical information- but it also has a lot of current affairs that I notice many expats, students and even tourists may not know about.  My goal is to share some things I've had to learn (some learned through mistakes I've made) about France that are very useful.

Population: 65 million people..
Within this number, 5 million are immigrants and 3 million are foreigners (students, etc).
What is France (geographically speaking)?
France is actually comprised of four different things.  Metropolitan France, DOM ROM (which used to be DOMTOM, but changed in 2003), COM and POM. 
Metropolitan France are the cities directly in the country, as in Lyon or Paris, there are 27 regions in France (i.e. Rhône-Alpes) and about 100 departments (i.e. Rhône).
DOM ROM (departement et region outre mer) are the places that are considered French areas, but not directly in the country.  There's 'Martinique', 'la Guadeloupe',  'la guyane' and 'la réunion'.  They are considered both a department and a region, due to their size.
COM (collectivité d'outre mer) are more like territories of France.  Often when you go they speak French, but aren't considered within the departments.
POM (paye d'outre mer) are the countries that were occupied or are occupied by France, but due to political struggle are now on the way to liberation.  Polynesie and New Caledonia.
 Here's a great resource for more of the whole 'outre mer' stuff.

First Religion: in France, we are considered 'laïc' or secular... which means the government and public facilities are not represented by any religion.  However- the most common religion practiced in France is Catholicism, followed in close second by Muslim.

President & Prime Minister:  Nicholas Sarkozy is the French president, François Fillon the prime minister.  In France, when there's a big political thing, the president tends to step back and the prime minister becomes the scapegoat... which is exactly what is happening right now during the 'grève for retrait'.

Some Random Facts...
  • French used to be only spoken in the center of France, before 1940 every region had their own dilect which was actually closer to it's own language.
  • Champagne is only called champagne if it comes from the Champagne region.. otherwise it's sparkling wine.
  • The order of eating is simple:  aperitif, entrée, main plat, fromage, fruit, dessert.
  • As long as there's bread, cheese will be eaten.
  • Le Grand Journal is a television show on Canal Plus, because it's a public show it's free to watch, even if you don't have cable.  It's on Monday through Friday, 730pm to 9pm.. Very interesting and funny.
  • The first Wednesday of every month there is a giant alarm testing that sounds like WW3 started- it's simply to test and make sure it works.
  • Sunday church bells ring around... and if there's a wedding it's common in the culture to follow everyone by car and honk the horns.
  • There are over a thousand type of cheese that are created in France... from sheep, goat and cow's milk.
  • 65% of employment comes from the service industry in France.
I'm learning so much through my CIEF program, I am glad to be able to share it!



  1. Are there homeless people in Lyon and do they ask for money like in Portland?

  2. Of course! Homeless people are everyone.. in Lyon they either are walking from car to car in traffic tapping on windows and asking, or they are all hanging in the park with their nakey body parts hanging out near Perrache.

  3. Your posts on Lyon are very helpful! I am planning a move there in January and didn't know about that CIEF program. Thank you for sharing!!


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