money, dogs and greetings
with Letitia Jett

It's time for the game that Letitia Jett,  A Femme d'un Certain Age, and I play each week on our blogs. We compare our views on our adopted countries, France for Letitia and The States for me.
There are some things we really love, others not so much. Good or bad, fun or unpleasant, whatever our point of view, we bring it to you.

talking of money...

In France it is very bad manners to speak of money elsewhere than at your place of employment, the office of your notaire or the office of your banquier; anywhere money needs to be brought up in precise terms, nowhere else. In France there are endless lists of euphemisms at your disposal when you feel inclined to divulge your or some relative’s wherewithal; you can say that so and so lives très confortablement or that he or she has a très belle situation, with no mention, of course, of exactly how belle la situation is. I have had clients who informed me of the value of their home here, even before I was told of the budget available for the renovations I was entrusted with. In France you mention how old your home is, how much land surrounds it and how long it has been in your family for example, but never, never what it is worth unless you really intend to sell it.

the doggy bag

I believe that the concept of the “doggy bag” exists only in the United States. Is it due to the enormous portions served here in restaurants? is it an American trait of character that follows the "waste not, want not" line of conduct? Or maybe it is just a little of both plus a total lack of pretense. In any case, if you cannot finish your chicken curry or your pork ribs with mashed potatoes both the size of a small canoe, you can ask your waiter to “bag” the remainder of your dish for you and off it goes, back home to be reheated the next day and consumed with a vain attempt at a graceful presentation. Not my cup of tea, so to speak.

dog manners
I has not escaped me that the Americans’ attitude towards the management of their dogs' excrements, in public in any case, is nearly irreproachable. I have spotted even the most perfectly elegant New Yorkers with a telltale plastic bag in one hand and the leash of their pet in the other and I have VERY seldom had to deal with a disgusting sidewalk. On the other hand, walking the trottoirs of Paris is a challenge of Olympic proportions; if you spot someone stopping with a dog, glancing left and right and happily continuing on, chances are you are very soon to know the reason for the suspicious looks; most certainly a belle surprise will have been left behind for you to negotiate. SO irritating!

In France  etiquette dictates that you say Bonjour Monsieur or Bonjour Madame to any one you interact with for the first time in the day and you shake their hand unless you are in a shop or an administration where such a personal contact is not in order. No casual Hello or Hi, as in the States, and I admit I do like the Americans way of smiling, however neutrally, to anyone whose eyes they meet. But the handshake makes the greeting not exactly formal, but finished, if you will. 
If you are a particularly classic and classy Frenchman, you will also do the baise main, kiss the hand of a married woman you greet or to whom you bid goodbye, (though you do not actually kiss the hand, but rather bow in a gesture resembling that). This tradition is being lost quickly and surely and now seems a little too precious in most social circles, but you still encounter the odd gentleman ready to bow elegantly in font of a female guest. Imagine the points I would score with the Gloria Steinem's of this world if I took position on the wrong side of this issue. And I must say I agree with her on almost everything... so you see.

Alors, what do you think? Agree, disagree? et toi,Letitia? Please leave a petit commentaire below or vite, go see a femme d'un certain age 's take all of this and let us know; on which ever side of the ocean you care to leave your comment.
merci, Letitia, 
à lundi

au revoir.


  1. Oh, my dear, dear partner,

    This is grand. You approached each subject so beautifully and precisely. (Funny I almost chose the same doggie bag you did -- see we were meant to be?)

    This is so much fun. I'm honored to be working with you.

    Now, I MUST elicit a promise from you: you must always correct me when I get something wrong whether it's a cultural question or, and here's where the trouble really begins, an error in French.

    Merci par avance.


  2. All right, ma chere amie, I will correct you but you really make mistakes so very seldom. By the way I love your choice of image for doggy bag; merci et a bientot.

  3. Just popped over after reading the post by Tish. I love it! Look forward to reading more of these. ~Lili

  4. Merci, Fearless Nester So glad you visited! a bientot.

  5. As an American living in England I can tell you that it isn't commonly done in restaurants to ask for doggie bags. I have a friend, however, who always does so and canvasses everyone one on our group outings for any appropriate meat or bones -- because she actually does have a very large dog at home. So it does happen sometimes.

    Brits are learning to pick up after their dogs, but slowly. It's still a problem here.

    I believe you when you say Americans talk about money a lot, but I know of no one who actually talks about how much money they make, particularly not amongst their work colleagues!

  6. I always wondered whether England was more like the US or France. it seems its France; the European connection. Thank you for your input; It's so interesting to hear what everyone has to say. Merci!