Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Eating and sleeping: French national sports
Stop the presses, hold the front page! The French eat and sleep more than any other nation in the developed world. At least that's the word out of the OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) today.
Following a survey of 18 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas, the OECD discovered that the average French person sleeps 8.8 hours every night - enjoying more time dans leurs lits than Americans and Spaniards.
And - surprise, surprise - the French take much longer lunches than any of their counterparts in other countries, dedicating double the amount of time to le dejeuner than Americans, Britons or Mexicans (a fact that is especially not surprising in the case of the Mexicans - have you ever tried to eat a full meal through an anti-swine flu face mask? It's a bitch).
So what does this OECD survey tell us about the French? That they have a great work-life balance? That insead of scoffing a sandwich at their desk they value the importance of sitting down, making conversation and breaking bread? That they place enormous emphasis on the art of eating, the quality of foodstuffs they ingest and time spent recharging their Gallic batteries? Or does this OECD report simply highglight the fact that the French are a bunch of food-obsessed, narcoleptic work-phobes?
There's no doubt that the quality of life on offer in Paris is especially high. And I'm not talking the types of dwellings or relative incomes. I'm talking about the French art de vivre - their inimitable way of making the otherwise occasionally pedestrian business of existing into a stylish art form. It's in the frenzy they whip themselves into over a cut of meat, or a glass of wine or a slice of foie gras. It's in the care they take with their appearance, the borderline haughtiness with which they carry themselves and the infuriating smugness with which they consider themselves superior to every other country in the world.
With all of that in your corner, you'd sleep well too.