Posted on December 9, 2016
Money, Money, Money, Money…French Style
You would probably be surprised the amount of books I have read about France. You might be surprised that I am still reading them. In the beginning, as I have mentioned before, I read them to feel close to France when I wasn’t there. Now, I read them to see if anyone shares my viewpoint. I am still searching for that book. Most share the same image of France that you can find in any other book written by people who have lived here a while.
There is another idea widely spoken of: French people don’t talk about money. When I was younger, I might have shared that opinion because the French people I knew were either my friends, who were making only a little more money that I was, or the people for whom I worked. My friends participated in many of the same activities, so we didn’t really care about how much money any of us made. If someone didn’t have the funds, someone else covered. For the employers, we only cared that they had the money to pay us. If we knew what they did,it was easy to figure out how much they made. Who cared as long as we got paid.
As I am older, I know a wider variety of people. I am meeting new people on a regular basis and here is a funny thing…everyone talks about money. Maybe this is a new thing. Maybe I am just someone with whom it is easy to talk. Maybe the authors of the books were not listening. I really don’t know, but I do know that I have been told on numerous occasions the financial affairs of many French people…and contrary to what is written, these people are not my friends and I didn’t ask.
In France, the citizens are entitled to many great benefits: health care, social security, extended maternity leave, money for the children’s return to school, additional vacation money (separate from paid time off) and so much more. Some of these benefits are dependent upon your salary, some benefits are for everyone. French people do tend to pay higher taxes than Americans, but in my opinion, it is well worth it. It is also pretty common knowledge that salaries are lower in France. I didn’t ask, I was told. Still, in my opinion, the benefits are worth a smaller salary.
As I speak with French people about daily life, about my blog, about our travels, people open up to me. Normally, they are asking me questions. I want to know everything about someone that they are willing to tell me, but I do not want to seem as if I am prying, so in social situations, I do not tend to ask many questions. At least, I don’t think I do. I just let people talk.
Many people have told me the exact amount of money they make. People tell me what they do with their money. Someone told me they are a person who lives in poverty. That really took me by surprise. Every time French people tell me freely about their money, I feel a little funny. In the back of my mind I am thinking, but I thought French people didn’t talk about money.
I don’t mind. In fact, I find it humorous that so many people who have lived in France have not had the same experience. In fact, maybe they have,but it is another one of those marketing things. I believe that the main reason I am finding out more about France than what you read about in the popular books about the country is that I am actually living in French households. I did not rent a house or apartment somewhere and try to integrate myself in the community. Living with people really opens up the doors of communication and exchange. Depending on how long you stay, you will find out quite a bit about someone, maybe even more than you would like to know. As we continue our journey, I will continue to let you know what French life is really like.
If you have questions you would like to know about an aspect of French life, let me know. I may not get you the common answer, I may not even have an answer, but I will certainly try. Do you speak of money in your conversations with acquaintances? I would love to know.