Discovering a new city means discovering new people, facing new challenges, changing the perception and questioning many things that have been learned ever before. It can be strange, it can be crazy, but for sure it would be awesome! I would like to share with you what have impressed me during the amazing 8 month in Marseille.
1# Do not Miss the Lunch Time
Rule number one: do not miss the lunch time! This is very special time for enjoying a lunch, that shouldn’t last less than two hours. The French built their day’s schedule around the mealtime; from the early childhood they spend these two sacral hours from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. having the lunch, chatting with friends and relaxing. I truly love this order of things! However, the time after 2 p.m. was the challenge for me. I was used to expect the meals being available in restaurants and cafe at any time from early morning until midnight, and I tended to forget about the lunch time schedule by the French standard. But what exactly will happen after 2 p.m.? Restaurant chairs will be collected and the doors will be closed until the evening, when only drinks and light snacks will be available. Exceptionally, the restaurants in touristic areas can be open during the whole day. However, the amazing truth about mealtime is that actually people in the country value their working and resting time; the social context of lunch time is important, and concerns about business profits doesn’t play the dominant role!
2# Eat Yaourt Nature with sugar
Obviously, there is nothing more usual in France than eating natural yogurt with sugar. I was pleasantly surprised, that the whole country is in love with eco products (is not that nice?!). I almost got used to the unique taste of yaourt nature, when I suddenly was told «Actually, we eat it with sugar.». Despite the fact, that I noticed some people doing that, it didn’t come to my mind that I deal with a common reality. Everything changed for me after I was asked in the most discouraging way «You don`t? And…WHY?». At that moment it seemed to me that entire France was asking that question and was calling me to respect all the 6 centuries of the French history. Probably, I did not find any answer… that is why after a while I started to use sugar; to my surprise I realized that «with» or «without» was not a question any more.
3# Sportswear Is the City Dress Code
This is incredible how easy to recognize male Marseillians in Marseille or elsewhere! They love to wear sport costumes (survêtement) in a daily life. Moreover, it’s important that the jacket matches the tapering trousers, and even the stripes must be at certain parts of the clothes. This Marseillian’ look of the local men should be completed with a certain type of haircut. You can meet males of under school age until middle age having this haircut and wearing these clothes. Personally, I find the haircuts pretty Ok, but wearing sportswear all the time seems to me still a little bit… let`s say, not corresponding to the occasion. Anyway, Marseillians both men and women are happy with how the things are and have their reasons for that. The first one is the huge unconditional love for soccer and wish to transmit the sport spirit and «coolness». The second, to my opinion, is women preferences; they expect men to be fit and sportive. It seems to me that men following the ultimate Marseille fashion will only wear their awesome survêtement doing non-sport activities, for example, taking a walk with a girlfriend or meeting with friends.
4# Cross the Road Where You Feel
Feel free to cross the road, regardless of crosswalk absence or the red traffic light. It is funny, that even people with crutches, old people and anyone who can walk only slowly always will follow this pattern. Everybody will follow! There is nothing unusual when a car driver stops in any place and allows pedestrians to cross the road. No fines are collected, no anger from any party. Moreover, car drives do the same, it is well-known fact, that the car drivers in Marseille park their cars anywhere. If a person wants to visit a cafe, but there is no parking spot , he will just leave his car on the road in front of the entrance. And this is normal, why not actually?! In contrary to locals the tourists can be recognized thanks to the fact that they will wait for the green traffic light to cross the street.
5# Dancing Skills Are Important
Dancing is considered to be a social skill! Yes, it is true, the ability to dance well can easily compensate a lack of knowledge of the local language. All modern dances are popular: bachata, salsa, kizomba, African style dance and freestyle. I was surprised how much African dance is loved here, French do their best to learn this dance style and show off their skills at parties, formal and informal events. Marseillians can dance on the street or organize special dancing events and free of charge classrooms. One of the funniest and the must-learned dance is kuduro (the music by Don Omar ft. Lucenzo), which is a group dance that can be danced in different occasions everywhere in France. In general, staying in France is very positive factor to improve dancing skills; so did I!
6# Use English with French Accent
Practicing English with French accent is not just useful tip to shape your French pronunciation, but a key tip to be understood much better. Even if you are an expert in both languages, when you order a cocktail named in English pronounce it in French manner. This is an elegant way to prevent any possible inquiring or puzzled look of a waitress. The same applies to brand names, movies’ titles, names of movie stars and so on. If you wish to be well understood, apply this little, but effective tip!
7# Do not Care about Paris
Paris, Paris… The most visited city in the world. The city with the greatest image could ever be. Paris is a dream city for a foreigner, is it the same for a person living in France? Paris doesn’t have this lure, it is seen as a nice city for job opportunities and a place to attend the big concerts. Paris being the most romantic city on the whole Earth seems to be a cute tourist’s stereotype.
8# Be Proud of Your City
Marseillians have strong patriotic feelings about their home city and are proud to call themselves Marseillais. The fans of the city soccer team OM (Olympique de Marseille) have a short song to support their football team, the song is widely known and used as an informal hymn of the city. In general, locals are passionate about sports, very friendly and communicative. They are proud to have their own accent, represent this old port city, located in the sunny South of France. Marseillians present a big diversity of races, nationalities, cultures and religions. The differences cause, of course, some conflicts, but also they are a strong drive to increase tolerance and open-mindness.