The French love to eat. No big surprises there. They also love to drink. No big surprises here either. And they love to do this several times a day, especially when they are on vacation.
Sounds great, right?
Not if you actually want to see some of the place where you are on vacation.
This is what typically happens (with my French tourists, of course this is just my experience with my French family and friends):
1. Wake up at around 8.30-9.30. This could be later, but usually not earlier, at least not for childless people under 40. Breakfast and showering take about an hour.
2. Drive, walk, etc. to the day's destination. This could bring you up to 10.30, maybe more, maybe less.
3. Walk around for half an hour before starting to look at all the restaurants and talking about which one to eat in. Maybe visit a monument or two to take pictures.
4. Pick a restaurant around 12 and walk in and sit down.
5. You order around 12.15.
6. The first course comes around 12.30, sometimes later.
7. Stay in the restaurant at least 2 hours, talking and eating.
8. Around 2 or 2.30 you finally leave the restaurant.
9. Visit a museum for 2 hours. This would take you up to 4.30.
10. Walk around half and hour. You are enjoying your sightseeing time, but your French friends are all talking about have a drink somewhere.
"What?" you think, "we already spent 2-3 hours eating and drinking!"
Just when you were just starting to get a feel for the place you are visiting...
11. You go with them for a drink, spending an hour talking in the café.
12. Now it is around 5.30-6pm. Time to get home and get the apéro out! Besides, your French friends are tired (from all the drinking and eating, haha) to do anymore "touring".
13. You leave, only having just had a taste for the place you just visited.
14. You go back to your gite or wherever it is you're staying and spend hours eating, drinking and then playing games.
|Châteaux de Lastours, France. On one of my trips with my "pack" of French friends and family. |
Author of photo: Den Nation.
I often feel like it's me against them. They want to do things all together, so no one ever splits up. But anyway, I am always the one who wants to do something different, so there never is any need to split up. Whenever there is a discussion about what to do they are usually in agreement, even my husband. I am the only one who ever has other ideas.
So now I often skip the afternoon drink. I just can't do it anymore. I have to get out there; I want to know the place I am visiting. And besides, I am often not thirsty anyway.
I try to understand, I really do. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be with your friends and family, just laughing and having a good time. That's great, it really is. But I have to get out there and see the place where we are; I need to watch the local people, hear the local language, admire the local architecture, walk in parks, etc. and not just sit around drinking and eating and visiting museums.
My husband's family find it really strange that I don't want to participate in the afternoon drink. They feel badly that I am not there. I tried forcing myself to go, but I just can't leave a place knowing I haven't seen its nooks and crannies. I want to find hidden treasures. I want to take lots of photographs.
But when they feel badly, I feel guilty. This can really put a damper on everyone's mood. They talk to me about it, telling me it's strange that I'm not there with them. But what can I do?
Does anybody else feel like this? Am I really alone in this?