French & US Relations, Paris
well not a local custom but one that is getting popular every year. When I first came to live in France back in 2003 (versailles) , I wanted to continue the traditions of my adopted country the USA.
One of these is Thanksgiving. Done on the FOURTH thursday of November of each year. Coming from the old tradition of the first pilgrims immigrants that came to the country planted crops to survive, the crop went bad, they planted again and ask a favor from the lord to give them a good harvest. Deal, done, then they gather all the local stock and turkeys were readily available to hold a feast in thank you. Many Years later George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God"
iT has been officially celebrated by congregational legislature since 1941. And the skies of the US are the crowdest of the year as families go back and forth all over the big country.
Well in Paris, it started with the long establish American community there, first it was held in American restaurants like Joe Allen, http://www.joeallenparis.com/joeallenparis.com/Home_Fr.html
Then folks began to cater for families who wanted to buy it and eat at home, 20 rue St Paul, 75004, Tel: 01 42 77 68 29 for one. Then many associations began to schedule their own Thanksgiving like the www.AARO.ORG
and finally there are many alumni association here from US Universities and I am in one with AUC
combining French and American traditions.
if you are in Paris at that time seek them out there is always a non member price to attend and partake something unique with us,the resident Franco-Americans
Folks from other nationalities are always welcome to these festivities.
Here is a photo of a gift being prepared, in Paris, to send to the US.
For the story of this gift, see the Travelogue in my Colmar, France page. Colmar is the home town of the sculptor (and a beautiful town to visit).
Living in Cincinnati where there's not a huge amalgamation of the population has me curious about other cultures. I suppose if I lived in NYC I'd be immune to such intense fascination.
In any case, I was out one Sunday morning leaving the Marais (which is the historical center for Jewish population in Paris) heading to the Île St Louis. While I was crossing the Pont Louis Philippe, I noticed a small group of Hasidic Jews ahead of me, their Hasidism (or Chasidism) indicated by their hats, the curls down the sides of their faces & their traditional garb. I didn't want to embarrass them so I hung back a little & took a photo as it was just thrilling to see them - so very cool.
In college I took a sociology class called The Community which focused on unusual groups such as the Amish, the Hutterites, the Gypsies (Rom), the Shakers, the Mormons, the COG (Children of God). Since then, I've loved reading about unique cultures & religions. This was the first time I'd seen Hasidim in person. I hope I was not rude in taking a photo. But if any Hasidic Jews are out there reading this please be assured it was only done out of my love for different cultures and my enthrallment with anything new & out of the ordinary (from my usual spectrum of experiences).
The (badly-executed) photograph I share with you!
Photo: April 2003
Well I must say that I've had very great success in installing this as a screensaver at work.
The best was when one of the lawyers came in with a little pin an American client had given him with the US and France flags intertwined and I said non, mais non, the true meaning of Franco-American is here...
When in France, try to act as French as possible for the best service and interaction with French people.
A little effort with speaking French and a nice smile will get you far. The French don't find American accents as cute as others abroad do : )
The French have a reputation for being snobbish with American visitors. However I found this to be only true if you first addresses them in English expecting them to speak English. I found if I approached them in french no matter how bad my french was they went out of there way to be helpful. My upon hearing my pathetic french would immediately help me in English.
Things may be a bit frosty on the diplomatic level, but the French [and the Belgians!] have taken to Halloween and the autumnal imagery of the season, but with their own "twist" from the Toussaints [All Saints] tradition. These photos were taken outside Chez Clement in the 5e.
Here are my advices for those who don't want to be immediately identified as tourists : Parisian people in Paris don't wear big white shoes, nor shorts or bermudas. They also don't wear socks with sandals. Cap is basically considered as an accessory for young people. Generally we don't speak loudly.
PS : Backpack and suitcases are well accepted in the subway but less during the peak hours.
There is a great free resource magazine called FUSAC which is aimed for people from English-speaking countries. They can be found in hotels or other English related places. In the magazine you will find mainly ads, things such as job offers, friendship, houseoffers, for sale, services etc. Maybe more useful for those moving (or living in already) to France rather than for tourists. Check out their website: http://fusac.fr