Ten things I’ve learned about the French countryside (and the people there)

Hello, we’re one week into the honeymoon season of The Earful Tower and my wife and I are currently in the small coastal village of Courcelles-sur-Mer in Normandy.

We’ve driven 400 kilometres on the scooter and we’ve seen a lot, staying in Chantilly, Pacy-sur-Eure, Bernay, and Saint Hymer before arriving on these northern beaches.

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Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the French countryside and the French people living there (compared to Paris and the Parisians we’ve lived among for the past few years).

Press play below to hear the 30-minute podcast episode and scroll down for the list. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple here and Google here.

1. People are friendly

In fact, they’re very friendly. They’ve been going out of their way to be helpful too. Anyone who says that French people are all rude have clearly never travelled in the French countryside. We’ve literally had someone running after us in the street to correct their travel directions.

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2. Waiters are slow, but they care

Parisian waiters are excellent and attentive. They get you in and out before you even know what’s happened. But it’s not so in the countryside, where they take their time and help you pick what they consider to be the best food for you.

3. People aren’t obsessed with how they look

People in Paris wouldn’t be seen dead in their sports clothes outside the gym. They’re slim, chic, and always on trend. But it’s not like that in the countryside. People don’t tend to put on airs, they’re simply themselves – and it’s sometimes quite refreshing. I fit in quite well, actually.

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4. There are many hidden gems

It’s amazing how many villages that are just a name on the map turn out to be outstandingly beautiful spots. Case in point: Bernay in Normandy. If you’re a Patreon supporter, go and watch our live walk through Bernay – it’s like a fairytale setting.

5. There’s actually a lot of info in English

In Paris, you’d be lucky to find a tourist sign that’s translated in English, at least one with any interesting information. But not so in many countryside spots. Even small villages (like Bernay, for example) sometimes have translations for us English-speaking tourists about the history of buildings and so on.

6. There’s a list of the most beautiful villages

Here’s a pic of all the most beautiful French villages and here’s the link to find them. Good to bookmark this page if you’re travelling too 🙂 We checked out La Roche Guyon and it was fantastic (did a live Patreon walk there too!).

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7. Things can be very pricey

Nine euros for ice cream in Chantilly, 20 euros for a cocktail in Deauville… it’s not just Paris that’s expensive in France. Beware: Touristy traps come with the price tag. But don’t worry, everything else is pretty cheap.

8. People have more time for you

There’s simply a slower pace in the French countryside. We’ve ended up in conversations in bakeries and pharmacies with the other customers – something that rarely happens in Paris – if ever. And it’s been happening a lot.

9. People are proud of their villages

It’s very easy to see that French villagers love their villages. There are colourful flower displays on every corner, often no graffiti at all, and everything is exceptionally clean. People are proud of their homes – and it’s not always the same vibe in the French capital.

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10. People don’t switch to English (even if they can)

In Paris, you may have tried to speak French with a waiter only to hear them respond in English. It can be frustrating at best. But in the countryside, people are very encouraging and patient, and happy to help you along with your French – even if it’s not perfect.

That’s it for now – we’ve got a lot more road to travel. Send in your tips, as usual, and sign up on Patreon for US$10 a month to REALLY follow this trip and watch the live videos.

Here’s a look at some of our trip so far:

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