Monday, July 25, 2011

10 things to remember as an expat returning to France after a long trip out of country

1. Your carte sejour. Otherwise you might spend 3 hours in immigration at the Amsterdam airport while a very nice official tries to get in touch with France to verify that you are in fact legally living in France. But don't worry, even though France never answers, he'll let you through with the threat that if it turns out you don't have a visa, you'll be flagged as "in country illegally."

2. They speak French here. It will do you no good to answer the door with a "how can I help you", you must dig through all your stuff to find your English-French dictionary, rapidement! when dealing with the apartment repairman.

3. Do not drink orange juice and eat brie.

4. When going for a walk, remember to look down, not ahead. Because that's where the landmines are.

5. Weigh your fruits and vegetables before going to check-out. Otherwise you'll be subject to THAT look and a long queue of impatient people awaiting your return.

6. While we are on the subject of shopping, remember that sweats and a T-shirt may be appropriate attire for a trip to Target, but Carrefour requires something a wee bit classier.

7. To stock up on the things not readily available in France; in our case, Goldfish crackers, Saran wrap, size 45 shoes and an emergency box or two of mac and cheese.

8. 1 kg is 2.2 lbs, not the other way around. Otherwise when the recipe calls for 1/2 lb of salmon, you'll have quite a bit left over.

9. For every one hour time zone change, you'll need one day to recooperate. So don't schedule doctor's appointments two hours before your plane lands. 

10. You're home. Time to relax, but start planning your next day, week-end, trip!


  1. oh my gosh, this is hilarious! I can relate to them all! I love it. Weighing the fruits and veggies, speaking French, there are so many things to remember! I am still in American and it will have been 3 or 4 months when I go back to France, so I will have to remember them all! Great list!

  2. Thanks Natalia! Enjoy your stay in the States!

  3. I hope you had a nice time away. I laughed at the salmon. I can never get my measurements right.
    welcome home?...

  4. Thanks Aidan. Yeah, and the seafood people tend to get impatient when I whip out a pencil and paper to run calculations in the middle of my order.

  5. Yes, always stock up on the mac & cheese, and goldfish crackers!
    And brie and OJ... yuck!

  6. The mac & cheese I understand- with so many awesome cheeses, Velveeta is a poor choice. But Goldfish? Come on! The French love all the little crackers and snacks!


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