Differences Between Living in Spain and France
Guest post by Maria, friend of mine from Spain, who lived several years in France. She is going to describe the differences between living in Spain and France to you.
Two European countries with a common border. How different can they be? After having lived many years in both, even though the cultural differences are not shocking, there are some disparities in the daily life.
I grew up in the Spanish Basque Country, which is close to the French border. At the age of sixteen I lived for 2 years in France to attend High School. Just a two hour drive makes such a big difference and it was the first time that I discovered the differences between living in Spain and France.
Southern European Country vs Western European Country
Concerning geographical and climate differences, Spain is considered a “warm” country (it depends also where you are located within the territory), while France is colder. These disparities are basic when comparing any two countries. We will go more deeply and compare French and Spanish lifestyle.
First of all, time schedules. We could say Mediterranean countries have a much more flexible and late schedule, but Spain is well-known for its, some call it, crazy schedules. As I already developed in the post called Differences between living in Spain and the United States, Spanish restaurants serve until 12 or 1 am, and bars and clubs are opened until 6 am.
When I turned eighteen, I decided to continue my studies in the French capital, where this kind of flexibility can also be found as it is the number one location for tourism in the world. As a consequence, it is not a typical French city and could only be compared to other big capitals in the world.
Two Different Cultures
For my first five or six months in France, I did not recognize any big cultural difference. Of course, the language was not the same, but like with any other foreign country. The more time I spent living around French people, the more I realized disparities between these two cultures were based on humor, social values and life perception. You have to get very involved with the French lifestyle in order to be aware of this.
Humor in France is very implicit and many times related to playing with words. I had a hard time understanding French humor at the beginning, but once you get how it works, it can be very funny. I personally consider French humor more harsh than Spanish. They use an indirect style to say what they want and their humor topics are many times controversial for society. I would say French humor is a smart type of humor which not everybody can understand and have fun with.
Perception of life as I have experienced in France is less “ Carpe Diem” than in Spain. Spain is considered a Latino country we live more each day as it could be the last one than the French do. Concerning social values, family is as important in France as it is in Spain, although less conservative.
Finally, criticism has become the best hobby for French young or older people. I was very shocked with this since my arrival. Unfortunately, you get used to it very fast without even noticing. As a Spanish saying states: Everything can be copied except for beauty.
The differences between living in Spain and France is not shocking, but still big enough to be very noticeable. Especially close to the border regions, it is obvious how much difference a few kilometers can make. Especially to Americans, this cultural difference is often astounding.
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Thanks for the post — you probably speak both languages already but perhaps your readers would be interested in learning French or Spanish online – I wanted to recommend Babbel.com (http://www.babbel.com) — Gracias!
Hello Mara, thanks for sharing Babbel! They are a great resource for learning languages! Do you have any personal experience studying languages with Babbel?
Watch The Women on the 6th Floor. This movie really depicts the differences between the two cultures. Beautiful movie.
Also one difference is Spain was interested in the America’s for they’re 3GS and France was not
No estoy de acuerdo, que poco contenido tiene tu blog realmente te da pereza hacerlo bien no?
I am really sorry that you feel that way. Unfortunately, my Spanish is not good enough to reply to you in Spanish, so I have to reply in English. As stated in the beginning of the blog post, this was a guest blog post by one of my friends, who grew up in Spain, but has lived in France for many years. This blog post is based on her experiences of living in both countries, and did not intend to offend anyone. People have different experiences when they travel and live in other cultures and this is the story and experience of my friend Maria, who lived in Spain and in France, sharing the cultural differences that stood out the most from her perspective. I hope this explains my intention of the blog post.
I believe France has more diversity than Spain, in regards of food, wine, art and every day living, but it is clear that Spain is cheaper. In France you can ski too, while in Spain you can do it but not in the real sense of the word. Spain is great for older people with a pension fund looking to retreat in a warm place and enjoy the beach. Also, Spain is great if you look for Spanish guitar and music, which in France is not that a big phenomenon, although Gipsy Kings come from France. I find France a bit younger and therefore more socially challenging than Spain, in the sense the French society has a much younger mentality. However, both countries are great. French women are hotter, while Spanish women make a more reliable partner. Yes, French ladies use to cheat a lot and that is true and undeniable. From another point of view, they live their life since they deserve to experience more and therefore carpe diem. In Spain, girls are more conservative, they won’t have sex that easy. I find people in Spain more like South-Eastern Europeans Romania or Greece, while France, uhm, has no counterpart, it is just France itself. Madrid is however, way better than Paris. I am from Portugal and had nine girlfriends from France and five from Spain until now. P.s. I wouldn’t be able to live in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands etc. They are simply tidier but so damn boring and the weather is crap as well while social stress is overall present. Mediterranean Europe is the best.
Thank you for sharing all your opinion and experiences, very interesting. I am considering retiring somewhere in Spain, where my retirement allows me to budget the pension, renting if possible, humble and no need for luxuries, but enjoy life day by day, good food, wine and new friends. Recommendations and links are all welcome. I speak Spanish-not from Spain- and English. Thanks!