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View Full Version : France vs America: What you should know before you go



Angela
06-09-17, 18:14
This is part of the Wolters' World Series on you tube. I like him as he always has a very open, enthusiastic, positive attitude. I thought this effort was a good one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1lGKQ_Bnd4


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1lGKQ_Bnd4

Coriolan
06-09-17, 20:46
These tips are very generic and apply to most of Western and Central Europe. As far as I know the US is the only major tipping culture. I've never tipped anywhere in Europe. The Euro and 220V electric appliances are not specific to France but to most of the EU. The ATM charge for withdrawing cash at the ATM is pretty much the same in every country. There are kids menus and children discounts for trains and museums all across Europe. And so on. I cannot think of anything he said that really just applies to France. It sounds like a guide for Americans who have never left their country.

Angela
06-09-17, 20:59
These tips are very generic and apply to most of Western and Central Europe. As far as I know the US is the only major tipping culture. I've never tipped anywhere in Europe. The Euro and 220V electric appliances are not specific to France but to most of the EU. The ATM charge for withdrawing cash at the ATM is pretty much the same in every country. And so on. It sounds like a guide for Americans who have never left their country.

Well, see, Americans live in a country the size of a continent, not a postage stamp sized version of one where if you roll out of bed you land in another country. So, no, they don't travel to other countries as often as the Swiss do. There's an incredible amount of wonderful things to see right here. Plus, although I'm sure I don't know why, they don't very much like encountering supercilious, condescending, negative, and sometimes generally downright nasty Europeans with a chip on their shoulders about America.

See how easy it is to be snide about someone else's country? Why don't you give it a rest? Small minded posts like this just, guess what, make people look small minded and snarky. You know what, the world turns. One country is on top and then suddenly it isn't. Although there are always the ones which were never on top.

Joey D
06-09-17, 23:53
Aussies often have a thing about the French, but then again, many aussie tourists are often drunk and obnoxious themselves - little wonder people might act the same back to them.

Personally, I find both France and the US wonderful places to visit, but I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the tipping culture in the US, something which is starting become a bit more prevalent in Australia.

Angela
07-09-17, 01:35
Aussies often have a thing about the French, but then again, many aussie tourists are often drunk and obnoxious themselves - little wonder people might act the same back to them.

Personally, I find both France and the US wonderful places to visit, but I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the tipping culture in the US, something which is starting become a bit more prevalent in Australia.

I've never been to Australia, so I don't know if this is true there, but in my experience wait service is much, much better in the U.S. than it is anywhere in Europe(with the possible exception of NYC, because it's just too fast paced here for niceties), and I have a feeling part of the reason is that if the tip is built in, there's no incentive to be particularly nice. You know, sort of like having a civil service job versus a private sector job. They can't fire you, so you can be as obnoxious as you like. Well, it's not a perfect analogy, but hopefully you get what I mean. (Wait staff can be too friendly here, and too intrusive, and particularly on the west coast, imo. I really don't need to be told your first name and have long conversations with you. Oh dear, maybe I've been in New York too long!)

Or maybe it just has to do with "service" in general in Europe vs the U.S.? In my experience, the service everywhere in Europe is just worse compared to America. Here, the customer is always right, and I mean no matter what, so you have to swallow a lot of guff if you're in a service business here.

As for Australians, it's hard for me to imagine anyone not liking them. Every one I've ever met in Europe has been super friendly and nice. They are a bit larger than life, though, by certain European standards, so I guess it doesn't go over as well in certain areas. Acting like a jerk in public because you're drunk is just a no no no matter who you are.

Joey D
07-09-17, 04:45
Funny you should mention the level of service. My brother-in-law has lived in the US (Boston) for 25 years. He visits Australia once every few years to see family etc. He will often mention restaurant service is far superior in the US, and he too puts it down to the tipping culture.

One odd thing I notice is how strong the coffee culture is in Australia (for good coffee), almost as strong as Southern Europe, but it's not quite like that in the US. Starbucks pretty much failed in Australia, I mean seriously, if you like your coffee, why would you go to a Starbucks?

My brother-in-law accepts that the coffee is superior in Australia, but he actually misses getting the top ups of coffee you'll get in the US. Personally, I would view missing out on that as a blessing!

Angela
07-09-17, 20:14
Funny you should mention the level of service. My brother-in-law has lived in the US (Boston) for 25 years. He visits Australia once every few years to see family etc. He will often mention restaurant service is far superior in the US, and he too puts it down to the tipping culture.

One odd thing I notice is how strong the coffee culture is in Australia (for good coffee), almost as strong as Southern Europe, but it's not quite like that in the US. Starbucks pretty much failed in Australia, I mean seriously, if you like your coffee, why would you go to a Starbucks?

My brother-in-law accepts that the coffee is superior in Australia, but he actually misses getting the top ups of coffee you'll get in the US. Personally, I would view missing out on that as a blessing!

It's not just coffee that gets topped up in the U.S., it's water as well. I got a video on a youtube feed about foreign exchange students from Europe, in this case Germany, not France, but I think many of the differences would apply to all Europeans, as Coriolanus noted. Among the things she noticed is that in the U.S. water is free, and is topped up during the meal. That applies to other beverages as well, including coffee, and sometimes soft drinks. She also complained about the tipping, and she added sales tax, which is another thing that annoys Europeans. Americans, not realizing that the tip is included in the bill, will tip again, and get confused about the total price of an item. They're just different customs about which you should be informed before you travel.

The biggest difference she noticed, and that explains a lot of American complaints when they travel in certain European countries is that Americans are much more open and friendly to strangers. People just smile more, interact more on a casual chatty level in social settings than is the case in certain European countries. So, Americans can interpret that as Europeans being nasty, or not friendly, or not liking Americans. A very outspoken and friendly woman I know was recently in the Czech Republic and had a guide for some museum tours. She just asked her why the Czechs smile so little. The answer was, "We smile when there's something to smile about." :(

I don't know why France gets a particularly bad rap in terms of interaction with foreigners. As I said, I think service is generally worse all over Europe than it is in America. My only bad experience in France was in a train station when I was young and traveling with American friends. My friend asked in English about the track for our train and he pretended not to understand, as was clear from what he said to his French co-worker. I got really angry and told him off in no uncertain terms. That's it, though. I don't know if it's partly because I do use my not perfect French, but I don't think that's all of it. My husband and I took my parents to France with us and we started off in Paris. The waiters, the concierge, the staff in general couldn't do enough for us, and it was obvious that we were conversing in English amongst ourselves. I think it may have had to do with the fact that we were so obviously enjoying ourselves and just loved everything, particularly the food. They didn't have to listen to "Don't they have bacon and eggs in this country?" It was so clear that my mother loved the chocolate croissants that the waiter would always bring two extra free of charge midway through breakfast. Another time, we went for lunch and the word being similar in Italian, my Dad noticed they offered eel stew. He was ecstatic as he hadn't had them in years. When he finished the first plate and cleaned it with bread, the waiter brought out a second plate unasked. When even that got scarfed down, the chef came out of the kitchen carrying a pot of it and personally ladled a third helping onto my father's plate. When my father stood up to shake his hand he got a kiss on each cheek.

The moral of the story is that the French are very proud of all aspects of their culture, as they should be, and if you are appreciative, and polite, and make an effort to speak a little French, you'll have no problems.

davef
07-09-17, 21:26
Funny you should mention the level of service. My brother-in-law has lived in the US (Boston) for 25 years. He visits Australia once every few years to see family etc. He will often mention restaurant service is far superior in the US, and he too puts it down to the tipping culture.

One odd thing I notice is how strong the coffee culture is in Australia (for good coffee), almost as strong as Southern Europe, but it's not quite like that in the US. Starbucks pretty much failed in Australia, I mean seriously, if you like your coffee, why would you go to a Starbucks?

My brother-in-law accepts that the coffee is superior in Australia, but he actually misses getting the top ups of coffee you'll get in the US. Personally, I would view missing out on that as a blessing!

Starbucks coffee smells like a tire shop, or what the famous pile of burning tires from the Simpsons would smell like. I tend to experience nausea not unlike what I used to get when I got off a school bus as a kid after sticking my nose in one of those cups.

Im not sure if I should continue buying coffee from dunkin, it doesn't seem to always give me the adrenaline spike I aim to get so I can crawl out of my occasional ADHD induced fog. It does taste good, I'll give it that.

kirsten elise
07-09-17, 21:31
If France seems too daunting...visit Quebec and get the best of both worlds close to home :) French food and "feel" but more "new world" openness.

Maciamo
07-09-17, 22:28
It's not just coffee that gets topped up in the U.S., it's water as well. I got a video on a youtube feed about foreign exchange students from Europe, in this case Germany, not France, but I think many of the differences would apply to all Europeans, as Coriolanus noted. Among the things she noticed is that in the U.S. water is free, and is topped up during the meal. That applies to other beverages as well, including coffee, and sometimes soft drinks. She also complained about the tipping, and she added sales tax, which is another thing that annoys Europeans. Americans, not realizing that the tip is included in the bill, will tip again, and get confused about the total price of an item. They're just different customs about which you should be informed before you travel.

The biggest difference she noticed, and that explains a lot of American complaints when they travel in certain European countries is that Americans are much more open and friendly to strangers. People just smile more, interact more on a casual chatty level in social settings than is the case in certain European countries. So, Americans can interpret that as Europeans being nasty, or not friendly, or not liking Americans. A very outspoken and friendly woman I know was recently in the Czech Republic and had a guide for some museum tours. She just asked her why the Czechs smile so little. The answer was, "We smile when there's something to smile about." :(

I wrote an article on the differences between the USA and Europe (http://www.eupedia.com/europe/cultural_differences_europe_usa.shtml) that I hope can be useful to both Americans and Europeans to help them understand each others.

Having travelled to many countries around the world, I can say that there are a number of other things that are really specific to the US and that many Americans don't seem to be aware of it. The tipping culture is one of them. I have never had to tip anywhere else outside the US. Even in Japan, which in many ways is as close to the American system as one can get due to the post-WWII occupation and Americanization, if you try to leave a tip on the table, the staff will chase you down the street to return it to you. And Japan is full of American chain restaurants, and not just the international ones like McDonald, KFC and Starbucks, but many that are unknown in Europe too (Denny's, Sizzler...).

The smiling thing and openness to stranger is also unique to Americans in the developed world. I have seen it in Africa and in poor rural areas in South and Southeast Asia, but otherwise the norm is that people don't smile to strangers unless they are trying to flirt or they are shop assistants and salespeople trying to sell something. This is just as true in Scandinavia as in France, Britain, Poland, India, China or Japan. Some parts of Latin America may be different (Brazil?), but even so probably not as much as the USA.



I don't know why France gets a particularly bad rap in terms of interaction with foreigners. As I said, I think service is generally worse all over Europe than it is in America. My only bad experience in France was in a train station when I was young and traveling with American friends. My friend asked in English about the track for our train and he pretended not to understand, as was clear from what he said to his French co-worker. I got really angry and told him off in no uncertain terms. That's it, though. I don't know if it's partly because I do use my not perfect French, but I don't think that's all of it. My husband and I took my parents to France with us and we started off in Paris. The waiters, the concierge, the staff in general couldn't do enough for us, and it was obvious that we were conversing in English amongst ourselves. I think it may have had to do with the fact that we were so obviously enjoying ourselves and just loved everything, particularly the food. They didn't have to listen to "Don't they have bacon and eggs in this country?" It was so clear that my mother loved the chocolate croissants that the waiter would always bring two extra free of charge midway through breakfast. Another time, we went for lunch and the word being similar in Italian, my Dad noticed they offered eel stew. He was ecstatic as he hadn't had them in years. When he finished the first plate and cleaned it with bread, the waiter brought out a second plate unasked. When even that got scarfed down, the chef came out of the kitchen carrying a pot of it and personally ladled a third helping onto my father's plate. When my father stood up to shake his hand he got a kiss on each cheek.

The moral of the story is that the French are very proud of all aspects of their culture, as they should be, and if you are appreciative, and polite, and make an effort to speak a little French, you'll have no problems.

I have been countless times in France, to all parts of the country. I am a native French speaker and have family who now lives in France. Yet I have never experienced such service not heard of anyone who has.

Overall I agree with Wolters that service is much worse in Paris than elsewhere in France, and Parisians can be quite insufferable even to other French people. But overall France is not a service country. The expression 'the customer is always right' or 'the client is king', which are cherished in Anglo-American cultures and Japan, is meaningless to most French people (and French-speaking Belgians to a lower extent). This summer I was in the south of France. We travelled 15 minutes by car to get to a restaurant after carefully checking the opening hours on Google. We arrived at 13.20, 40 minutes before closing timem only to be told that the kitchen was already closed because they didn't have enough customer that day and as a result they couldn't accept us. What's the logic behind that? They don't have enough customers but refuse a group of customers eager to try their food. That's the kind of France I know and have been used to since my childhood. No business sense, no customer service.

kirsten elise
07-09-17, 23:00
I found Paris dreadfully unfriendly and unhelpful, and I speak fluent French also, albeit with a French Canadian accent. Then again, as someone on a hiking holiday, I probably looked a bit bedraggled and marginal at the time. I liked it anyway though :) If I wanted American service culture I'd go there.

Angela
07-09-17, 23:51
I wrote an article on the differences between the USA and Europe (http://www.eupedia.com/europe/cultural_differences_europe_usa.shtml) that I hope can be useful to both Americans and Europeans to help them understand each others.

Having travelled to many countries around the world, I can say that there are a number of other things that are really specific to the US and that many Americans don't seem to be aware of it. The tipping culture is one of them. I have never had to tip anywhere else outside the US. Even in Japan, which in many ways is as close to the American system as one can get due to the post-WWII occupation and Americanization, if you try to leave a tip on the table, the staff will chase you down the street to return it to you. And Japan is full of American chain restaurants, and not just the international ones like McDonald, KFC and Starbucks, but many that are unknown in Europe too (Denny's, Sizzler...).

The smiling thing and openness to stranger is also unique to Americans in the developed world. I have seen it in Africa and in poor rural areas in South and Southeast Asia, but otherwise the norm is that people don't smile to strangers unless they are trying to flirt or they are shop assistants and salespeople trying to sell something. This is just as true in Scandinavia as in France, Britain, Poland, India, China or Japan. Some parts of Latin America may be different (Brazil?), but even so probably not as much as the USA.



I have been countless times in France, to all parts of the country. I am a native French speaker and have family who now lives in France. Yet I have never experienced such service not heard of anyone who has.

Overall I agree with Wolters that service is much worse in Paris than elsewhere in France, and Parisians can be quite insufferable even to other French people. But overall France is not a service country. The expression 'the customer is always right' or 'the client is king', which are cherished in Anglo-American cultures and Japan, is meaningless to most French people (and French-speaking Belgians to a lower extent). This summer I was in the south of France. We travelled 15 minutes by car to get to a restaurant after carefully checking the opening hours on Google. We arrived at 13.20, 40 minutes before closing timem only to be told that the kitchen was already closed because they didn't have enough customer that day and as a result they couldn't accept us. What's the logic behind that? They don't have enough customers but refuse a group of customers eager to try their food. That's the kind of France I know and have been used to since my childhood. No business sense, no customer service.

Do you mean my restaurant stories? That surprises me. They weren't the only such things that happened to us on that trip. I remember that I was using a guide written up by a New York Times reporter, and he pointed us to a restaurant that served regional food from the Auvergne. We just loved it, and the waiter and owner of this small place started talking to us, asking us about America, if we knew a relative in Chicago, obviously not :), and other things. They insisted we come back one more time before we left Paris. We did, and the food was even better. We took lots of pictures, which I later sent to them, videos etc. I still exchange notes at Christmas with the guide we had in southern France, provided by the company that sponsored the trip. Over the course of the five days she became more friend than guide. I've had a few similar experiences in Spain and Italy, although Italy is a different thing because they soon figure out I'm Italian, so I don't think I can use that as a comparison. Heck, we've been invited to Sunday dinner by people we met on the buses and trains in Italy. Probably it has something to do with my husband's personality; he is incredibly outgoing, and makes friends everywhere we go.

I totally agree about the service thing. You have to tolerate a lot if you're in a service industry in the U.S. The only bad service, as I said, is from civil service employees, but our interaction with bureaucrats is so much less here that it's not a big deal. Other than Motor Vehicles, I never have to deal with most of them. It's online, or just send in the paperwork and a check and it's done.

The two things I really don't miss in Italy, and I'm sure it would be the same in France, is the bureaucracy and the inconvenience. Nowhere is as convenient for taking care of the "business" of everyday life as America. I do almost all of my banking and ATM in drive throughs. Ditto for coffee, and even, lately, for those prescriptions that don't get sent to me by mail in three month increments. If I run out of milk, eggs, butter, cereal, or whatever, and don't want the hassle of going to a market, parking, getting a cart, etc., I just drive through the 711 store. All supermarkets and most stores are open 7 days a week, so even if you work full time, you can always calmly get your errands done on Saturday or Sunday. (Banks are open 6 days a week.) Heck, there's usually a market open 24 hours a day within a ten minute drive or something. Bill paying, etc. I do online, often with direct withdrawal from my checking account, so I don't even have to think about missing the due date. It's just totally different in Europe. I tell all my friends who have never been there to make sure they stock up, because nothing will be open on Sundays. Oh, and they have to know restaurants only serve at certain hours too. There's no strolling into a restaurant at 5PM for dinner because you didn't have lunch.

It's just different, and people who are going to travel need to know about the differences.

LeBrok
08-09-17, 00:04
Starbucks coffee smells like a tire shop, or what the famous pile of burning tires from the Simpsons would smell like. I tend to experience nausea not unlike what I used to get when I got off a school bus as a kid after sticking my nose in one of those cups.

Im not sure if I should continue buying coffee from dunkin, it doesn't seem to always give me the adrenaline spike I aim to get so I can crawl out of my occasional ADHD induced fog. It does taste good, I'll give it that.
I love my Nespresso. Delicious and so easy to use, at home.

Joey D
08-09-17, 01:23
Did someone mention the Italian bureaucracy?

OMG, you never, ever want to have anything to do with the Italian bureaucracy.

Maciamo
08-09-17, 07:36
Do you mean my restaurant stories? That surprises me. They weren't the only such things that happened to us on that trip. I remember that I was using a guide written up by a New York Times reporter, and he pointed us to a restaurant that served regional food from the Auvergne. We just loved it, and the waiter and owner of this small place started talking to us, asking us about America, if we knew a relative in Chicago, obviously not :), and other things. They insisted we come back one more time before we left Paris. We did, and the food was even better. We took lots of pictures, which I later sent to them, videos etc. I still exchange notes at Christmas with the guide we had in southern France, provided by the company that sponsored the trip. Over the course of the five days she became more friend than guide. I've had a few similar experiences in Spain and Italy, although Italy is a different thing because they soon figure out I'm Italian, so I don't think I can use that as a comparison. Heck, we've been invited to Sunday dinner by people we met on the buses and trains in Italy. Probably it has something to do with my husband's personality; he is incredibly outgoing, and makes friends everywhere we go.

Yes, I meant the restaurant story. Interesting how experiences can vary completely from on person to the next.

As you mention bureaucracy, I'd say that the quality of service in general in France and French-speaking Belgium is actually quite similar to what you would expect from civil servants. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it is extremely difficult to fire staff here - already by European standards, let alone American standards. Macron plans to make it easier, by reducing the dismissal compensation to "just" 6 months' salary (for new workers at least) as opposed to 2 or 3 years now. That's why staff can behave like *****s and be totally useless and get away with it. Good service is especially required in rural areas needing customers (and not always as my story showed) or in more competitive sectors. Service in hospitals, schools/universities, post offices and the like is particularly abysmal, but then these are all public sector here.



I totally agree about the service thing. You have to tolerate a lot if you're in a service industry in the U.S. The only bad service, as I said, is from civil service employees, but our interaction with bureaucrats is so much less here that it's not a big deal. Other than Motor Vehicles, I never have to deal with most of them. It's online, or just send in the paperwork and a check and it's done.

The two things I really don't miss in Italy, and I'm sure it would be the same in France, is the bureaucracy and the inconvenience. Nowhere is as convenient for taking care of the "business" of everyday life as America. I do almost all of my banking and ATM in drive throughs. Ditto for coffee, and even, lately, for those prescriptions that don't get sent to me by mail in three month increments. If I run out of milk, eggs, butter, cereal, or whatever, and don't want the hassle of going to a market, parking, getting a cart, etc., I just drive through the 711 store. All supermarkets and most stores are open 7 days a week, so even if you work full time, you can always calmly get your errands done on Saturday or Sunday. (Banks are open 6 days a week.) Heck, there's usually a market open 24 hours a day within a ten minute drive or something. Bill paying, etc. I do online, often with direct withdrawal from my checking account, so I don't even have to think about missing the due date. It's just totally different in Europe. I tell all my friends who have never been there to make sure they stock up, because nothing will be open on Sundays. Oh, and they have to know restaurants only serve at certain hours too. There's no strolling into a restaurant at 5PM for dinner because you didn't have lunch.

It's just different, and people who are going to travel need to know about the differences.

No offense, but are you comparing present-day America with the Italy of your childhood? In Belgium I have never really known the cash industry. I have had a debit card since I was 12 years old, a credit card since I was 18, and always pay by card everywhere (in most of Europe). I am taken aback when I go to cash-based countries like Japan where some restaurants, train stations, shops, pharmacies or the like don't accept cards. In Belgium it's been standard to pay all your utility bills automatically by direct debit from one's bank account at least since the 1990's (but I think also in the 1980's). Now debit/credit cards are linked to smartphones so that you can verify all your purchases instantly and get statistics about your monthly purchases by category. You have the option to restrict the use of your card to the location of your smartphone, so that if it's lost or stolen and people can crack the pin code, they still can't use it.

Online banking was well established by 2005 when I returned to Belgium from abroad. People can now do all their banking operations (including opening a bank account) on their phone and tablet, in addition to the desktop of last decade. Since the last few years it's now possible to get a new insurance contract online in a few minutes. Not just a simulation, but the actual contract signed and paid online. Some banks even allow customers to modify their loans (e.g. remaining length) by themselves online, without meeting or talking to any human staff. Even before the Internet in the 1990s people could already do all their operations at the ATM 24/7. Very different from countries like Japan where ATMs are just to withdraw/deposit cash and where ATMs have opening hours.

While 10 years ago there were still relatively few supermarkets or shopping centres open on Sundays and national holidays, it's become the norm now. Using the Internet to order groceries and have them home delivered has been common for over 10 years. Now, with Amazon Pantry it's even easier as we get next day delivery (same day in bigger cities like London). There is no Amazon Belgium, but that's even better this way as we can order from Amazon France or Germany and still get free next-day delivery. There used to be free delivery from the UK too, but they scrapped it. Still, Amazon UK offers great deals thanks to the low pound. I sometimes order from the USA on the rare occasions when I can't find a specific product here, but the high delivery fees and import taxes make it rather prohibitive. When I was saying that the postal service was bad here, it's because mails sometimes gets lost and they don't deliver on Sundays and national holidays, unlike in Japan. Amazon Japan offers same-day deliveries even on Sundays, and choosing one's time range for the delivery, which is unthinkable here now. I am confident it will come soon with drone deliveries, which have already started in the UK, France and Switzerland.

Even pharmacies have become an online business over the last 5 years. Scan your prescription and the post will deliver your order the next morning.

bicicleur
08-09-17, 08:30
I sell goods that are made in Bangkok in Belgium and neighbouring countries.
My customers pay directly to the Thai manufacturer who has a bank acount in the Netherlands.
From every EU country you can pay to this acount without any banking charges and the money tranfer is instintaneous.
My customers have to login to the Thai website to calculate prices and to place an order.
This Thai supplier does the same type of sales in the US.
When they are late in payments, their use of the website is restricted till the balance is paid, which they can do instantaneously via paypall.
It costs them 2 % transaction fees. This is accepted in the US because if they pay by bank transfer they have to pay fees too.
In Europe this is unthinkable. I was very surprised to learn about the situation in the US.
Allthough my impression is that generally services are better organised in the US, banking services in the EU are much better than in the US.

There are also local differences inside Europe, and even within Belgium.
As Maciamo pointed out quality of service in French-speaking Belgium is as bad as in France, while in the Dutch-speaking part it is not so.
Another example is online ordering. Belgium has missed that boat. When you order something on line in Belgium which is delivered the next day, the goods are likely to come from a warehouse in the Netherlands. The Belgian Unions are to blaim for that. They wanted to maintain the strict regulations for work at night. That is why logistic systems for online bussiness were not set up in Belgium. Legislation is changed now, but it is to late. All jobs are created in the Netherlands.
The main divide between Flemish and Walloon in Belgium is that the Walloons vote traditional socialist and the Flemish liberal, and that the Unions are much stronger in Wallonia than in the north. That is what made Belgium an unworkable country and allmost a failed state. I hope that is going to change now.
It is said that the Flemish-Walloon divide in Belgium reflects a similar north-south divide within Europe, a Germanic and a Mediterranean world. That is why Macron has so much work to do if he wants France to catch up with Germany.

Maciamo
08-09-17, 11:10
When they are late in payments, their use of the website is restricted till the balance is paid, which they can do instantaneously via paypall.
It costs them 2 % transaction fees. This is accepted in the US because if they pay by bank transfer they have to pay fees too.
In Europe this is unthinkable. I was very surprised to learn about the situation in the US.


That|s true. The US is still very traditional for banking. Many Americans still use cheques (checks), which have completely disappeared from Europe for over 20 years, except in France. I was even more shocked by the antiquated banking system in Japan. Most ATMs won't even accept any foreign credit/debit card! They still use paper checkbooks and online banking has analog security (paper grid with codes) and doesn't work outside Japan. Here card readers with pin codes to connect to netbanking have been the norm since the early 2000's.



The main divide between Flemish and Walloon in Belgium is that the Walloons vote traditional socialist and the Flemish liberal, and that the Unions are much stronger in Wallonia than in the north. That is what made Belgium an unworkable country and allmost a failed state. I hope that is going to change now.
It is said that the Flemish-Walloon divide in Belgium reflects a similar north-south divide within Europe, a Germanic and a Mediterranean world. That is why Macron has so much work to do if he wants France to catch up with Germany.

It's not as simple as that. The Walloons that vote for the socialists are those from impoverished industrial cities like Mons, Charleroi and Liege. It's not a Germanic vs Mediterranean divide. It's a purely historical and economic divide, just like with industrial parts of England in the Midlands. You can't argue that people of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds or Birmingham are more Latin or Mediterranean because they are poor and vote Labour. It's the same in Wallonia. There is no way that Wallonia is Mediterranean culturally. Richer parts of Wallonia like Walloon Brabant, Namur or the southern end of Luxembourg province vote for liberals and are as well off as the Flemings. The richest Belgians tend to be French speakers from Brussels. The main difference is that Flemings are more egalitarian and French speakers are more hierarchical (like the Brits), which leads to big gaps between the rich and the poor.

Angela
08-09-17, 15:13
That|s true. The US is still very traditional for banking. Many Americans still use cheques (checks), which have completely disappeared from Europe for over 20 years, except in France. I was even more shocked by the antiquated banking system in Japan. Most ATMs won't even accept any foreign credit/debit card! They still use paper checkbooks and online banking has analog security (paper grid with codes) and doesn't work outside Japan. Here card readers with pin codes to connect to netbanking have been the norm since the early 2000's.



I guess it depends on what you mean by "many". To the best of my recollection I read somewhere that about 75-80% of people in the U.S. pay online (laptop, phone, whatever). From my experience, the hold-outs are usually elderly people, or people in lower socio-economic brackets. Part of good service is that you don't force people to pay online if that isn't their preference.

As for the use of cash, it's down to about 11% of transactions. I would guess that's for small ticket items.
http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/payment-method-statistics-1276.php

For a few die-hards, the availability of a technology doesn't mean that they'll use it.

bicicleur
09-09-17, 13:56
It's not as simple as that. The Walloons that vote for the socialists are those from impoverished industrial cities like Mons, Charleroi and Liege. It's not a Germanic vs Mediterranean divide. It's a purely historical and economic divide, just like with industrial parts of England in the Midlands. You can't argue that people of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds or Birmingham are more Latin or Mediterranean because they are poor and vote Labour. It's the same in Wallonia. There is no way that Wallonia is Mediterranean culturally. Richer parts of Wallonia like Walloon Brabant, Namur or the southern end of Luxembourg province vote for liberals and are as well off as the Flemings. The richest Belgians tend to be French speakers from Brussels. The main difference is that Flemings are more egalitarian and French speakers are more hierarchical (like the Brits), which leads to big gaps between the rich and the poor.

I know there are a lot of wealthy people in Wallonia and amongst some French spreaking people in Brussels, and that the Walloon socialist stronghold is concentrated along the axis Mons-Charleroi-Liège.
But for 60 years or longer the Walloon socialists have been 'incontournable' in Belgian politics and today it is the first federal government without them.
I hope their downfall has definitively started now and that they'll never come back.
They have left their marks and some very ugly scarfs on Belgium during all these years. In all their arrogance, sometimes they looked more like a maffia organisation and sometimes they left Belgium short from bankruptcy.

Maciamo
11-09-17, 14:20
I know there are a lot of wealthy people in Wallonia and amongst some French spreaking people in Brussels, and that the Walloon socialist stronghold is concentrated along the axis Mons-Charleroi-Liège.
But for 60 years or longer the Walloon socialists have been 'incontournable' in Belgian politics and today it is the first federal government without them.
I hope their downfall has definitively started now and that they'll never come back.
They have left their marks and some very ugly scarfs on Belgium during all these years. In all their arrogance, sometimes they looked more like a maffia organisation and sometimes they left Belgium short from bankruptcy.

I completely agree.

I1a3_Young
11-09-17, 15:57
Most of this matches my experiences. Tipping culture keeps servers friendly and attentive. I had bad experiences in Paris but had been warned that it would be the case. I always imagined them as the "New Yorkers" of France and didn't think all French people acted this way.

I frequently drive on dirt roads where it's rude not to wave at everyone you pass whether you know them or not. You can't even get eye contact trying to talk to strangers in NYC. If you've ever seen Crocodile Dundee then you understand.

Smiling....a hilariously American thing. Even the natives were bemused by this custom by the early colonials, so I find it hard to believe smiling wasn't a thing in England. My face is getting permanent wrinkles on my smile lines. The stories of Davy Crockett include "grinning" a coon out of a tree. The Cherokee and Shawnee used names for Daniel Boone that had to do with smiling.

I don't know why so many Americans are so friendly with strangers. Perhaps we are curious about others since we are all so different. I love to hear the stories of others. Is it more common in less populated areas to build meaningless camaraderie with strangers?

Angela
11-09-17, 18:38
Most of this matches my experiences. Tipping culture keeps servers friendly and attentive. I had bad experiences in Paris but had been warned that it would be the case. I always imagined them as the "New Yorkers" of France and didn't think all French people acted this way.

I frequently drive on dirt roads where it's rude not to wave at everyone you pass whether you know them or not. You can't even get eye contact trying to talk to strangers in NYC. If you've ever seen Crocodile Dundee then you understand.

Smiling....a hilariously American thing. Even the natives were bemused by this custom by the early colonials, so I find it hard to believe smiling wasn't a thing in England. My face is getting permanent wrinkles on my smile lines. The stories of Davy Crockett include "grinning" a coon out of a tree. The Cherokee and Shawnee used names for Daniel Boone that had to do with smiling.

I don't know why so many Americans are so friendly with strangers. Perhaps we are curious about others since we are all so different. I love to hear the stories of others. Is it more common in less populated areas to build meaningless camaraderie with strangers?

I don't know that it's only an American thing. There's definitely a cline in Europe in terms of friendliness to unknown people, if not actual smiling, with more of it in the south.

As for New York, like Paris, the people are brusque, direct, but I think a lot of that is because they're rushed, tense, surrounded by so many people, many of them foreign. If you make an effort in both places, it's usually rewarded in both places. As I've related, I've had wonderful experiences all over France, including Paris.

I've never been in emergency situations in Paris or France in general, so I can't speak to that, but I have been in New York: snowstorms, hurricanes, black-outs, 9/11, you name it, all the way to flat tires, getting lost, forgetting my bag etc., and you couldn't be around better people in those situations.

They're also incredibly accepting and welcoming to people of any race, religion, culture, who comes to settle in. If you try to assimilate, most of them will accept you no questions asked.

You just have to be prepared for the brusqueness and directness. I was reminded of it this weekend, doing hurricane coverage in Naples, Florida. Some idiot guy was walking his dog a few blocks from the beach during the lull as the eye passed over. Cuomo leaned over and shouted to him, "Hey buddy, this is a hurricane! Haven't you been listening? Take your dog and get off the street!) All said in a friendly way, but very direct. It gave me quite a warm feeling.

Oxxy
25-04-19, 08:04
I always wanted to travel the world and make my own vlogs like this