Friday, 3 February 2012

España y Francia

I was having a conversation the other day about the differences between living in Spain and France and it got me thinking about my experiences in both countries. So for anyone who's interested in finding out if France really is as chic as it seems and whether in Spain, 'la gente está muy loca' (as someone once said to their mate Johnny), read on...

Stereotypical as it is, I had to sum up France in one word, I think it'd probably be 'sophisticated.'  France is, after all, the land of haute couture, expensive perfume, champagne and fine dining. It's also a land of intellectuals, poets and philosophers, where you can go to the opera or strike up a conversation about existentialism in many circles without being thought of as pretentious.

Michelle Obama perfectly captures the sentiments of
any woman who finds herself in the company of a super-chic
française...

The problem, however, is that all the classiness and intellectualism surrounding France results in an almost rigid formality, bordering on unfriendliness. Try smiling at someone on the metro in the land of the frogs and you'll see what I mean. The person in question will either quickly avert their eyes or glare at you suspiciously like you want something from them. Ne vous inquiétez pas, mon ami, la suele chose que je veux est que vous me souriez...

Spain, in comparison, is a much more laid back place to live. In my experience, Spanish people are much more open than the French and their motto really is 'viva la fiesta!'  Smile at someone at the bus stop in Spain (Logroño is too small for a metro!) and they're ten times more likely to strike up a conversation than to simply ignore you.

A good example of the differences between French and Spanish culture can also be shown through the language and eating habits in each country. Firstly, I was initially quite shocked at the informality of language here. The formal, 'usted' form of the verb is very rarely used in Spain, in comparison with the frequent use of the 'vous' form in France. Spaniards answer the phone with a simple 'sí?' ('yes?') or a 'dime' ('tell me') and in comparison to when I lived in France, I have yet to find myself in a situation in which I'd feel uncomfortable swearing.

Whereas France has a reputation for fancy, Michelin starred restaurants and haute cuisine, Spain's famous pinchos/tapas are made from simple recipes and ingredients. The food, and the people, don't themselves too seriously and that's where all the charm lies. Indeed, it's true that sometimes, 'simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.'

And whilst we're on the subject of food (sorry, it's impossible for this not to be a recurring theme!), Logroño was voted as the gastronomic capital of Spain today, so now I'm enjoying the best food AND the best wine in the country :) See: http://www.conmuchagula.com/2012/02/03/logrono-capital-espanola-de-la-gastronomia-2012/

All the Spanish need to do now is learn how to make a decent croissant...  

2 comments:

David Ruiz Urraca said...

We can be sophisticated too! And I can show but I won't :)

Claire said...

Yes, I saw you in Carpe Diem one night dancing in a very sophisticated manner!! :)

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