Vacation- Comme les Français
At my resort in Barbados there were people from all over the world- Great Britain, America, Italy, Spain- but you can guess which ones I was singularly interested in... Mais oui, the French. I wanted to find out how they vacation and what differences (if any) they had from the other guests.
There were only two couples from France staying at our hotel (they were not together, in fact one couple was there the first half of the week and the other the second) but these two couples spoke volumes about French culture.
I observed three main things about them with regards to going on holiday: Dress Sense, Buffets and Man-Woman Relationships...
Most of the women in the resort (myself included) wore metallic espadrilles (mine are gold- I love them!) and bejeweled cover-ups but the French women carried their understated dress sense through to their resort clothing- a simple purple dress, a floppy hat, ballet flats and sandals- and no make up. C'est tout. I don’t think either option is necessarily better- in fact I think they are both fine- anything goes on holiday. I tend to be more understated in my every day dress sense so when I go abroad to catch some sun I like a flashy sandal or a turquoise colored wrap. The French women seemed completely unfazed by this. Their resort clothing was simple, uncomplicated and body conscious.
Our hotel offered a sumptuous, complimentary breakfast buffet. Every possible breakfast choice was on offer: pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, baked beans, hash browns, bagels and cream cheese. I am terrible when it comes to buffets. I want to try it all (so that I know what’s good, you see). Both French women I observed had a large bowl of fruit, plain yogurt and a cup of coffee every morning... completely ignoring the other tempting options! With one of the women, I kept thinking that the fruit was her “starter” and waited for her to get up and indulge in some pancakes or at least scrambled eggs. But no, that never happened. She simply sat there, completely unfazed by all of the tempting options, enjoying her bowl of fruit and talking passionately with her male companion.
There was one thing about the second French couple at the resort that both my husband and I marveled at: They did not stop talking to each other! Ever! We encountered them first at breakfast (where the French lady was demurely eating her bowl of fruit and I looked guiltily down at my apricot pastry). That morning they talked about everything from politics to cinema to weather to art (meanwhile B and I happily read our respective papers in silence- I the New York Times and him Britain Today). Then later that afternoon, the same couple sat in the sun beds next to us by the pool- where they continued to talk to each other. About what? I’m not sure- at this point I was trying to read my book and have a lazy afternoon swim. Later that day B and I took a long walk up the beach to Sandy Lane and on the way back we encountered the same couple having yet another animated conversation with each other. B turned to me and said, “How do they not run out of things to talk about?!” I, too, was very amused by this. I consider myself to be happily married and have a good healthy relationship with my husband, but this French couple- who loved to talk to each other so much- made me feel like B and I were giving each other the silent treatment!
So there you have it- and I am not surprised with my observations of how the French go on holiday: they stay true to their style- even when abroad, they do not overindulge in food- even at tempting buffets and French men and women seem to honestly enjoy each others' company…
The Sasso pool at the Tamarind Cove Hotel in Barbados is pictured above...