What makes France different?
Obviously one major item is the language, but beyond that there is a way to view the French culture (at least in my opinion) that explains a lot of things. It's simple, the French are in love.
They are in love with:
The obvious well known choices -
The less obvious choices -
The one thing they don't seem to like too much is:
Work - Because it interferes with the above.
My conclusion from hanging around with these folks is they work very hard. Their garbage men put the Atlanta garbage men to shame. But, they just don't like to work too much. Got to save time for the things they love.
My generalization in the preceeding section is just that. A generalization. We realize the economic problems France is in, but it is not everyone that is causing those problems. One of the exceptions is the staff at GTL. Another exception are sole proprietors. Most of the small business owners in France act like small business owners in the US. Do whatever it takes to please the customer, increase business, and be successful.
I have a nice example of that.
I found a shop in Metz that specializes in restoration products for antiques. I was in ectasy. The first day I visited the shop a young man said hello and then went back to doing something as I poked around. He showed little interest in my being there, and within a few minutes notified me that it was lunch time, and to get the heck out of the store, and come back at 2:30. End of that visit. I wasn't sure if he was the propietor or not, but he wasn't the most customer friendly type I've met.
Several months later, I visited an antiques fair in Metz, and sure enough the same shop had a booth. I walked up to the booth as I saw two people walk away from it. The booth, when I walked up, was unmanned. Before I could look for more than a few seconds, a pleasant lady walked up to me and asked if she could help me. I noticed that most of the dealers in the show were heading for lunch and at that point, I figured this lady was doing the same, but came back to see what I wanted.
What ensued was a very nice and pleasant conversation with this lady for over 30 minutes. She was most helpful, and very kind with my terrible French. She eventually identified herself as the owner of the business, and it became clear to me that she was doing her sole propiertor thing, whereas the person in the shop when I was there previously, was an employee and could care less. So, not to harp on things, there are people in France who understand the principles of hard work. Just not too many.