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.


ParisMaddy said...

I totally agree with your sentiments in this posting. The French do seem to have a love affair with food...and breasts. When my daughter and I visited Paris we had the best time laughing at how many times images of breasts seemed to pop up, on the sides of buses, in ads etc., even in the famous painting of Gabrielle d'Estrees at Louvre. One thing I noticed that is WAY different than in America is I seldom saw people walking about and eating food or carrying their paper coffee cups into to stores. I loved that about France, that they make a meal an event. Long live the French and their snobby ways, and gorgeous architecture, and dog pooped filled sidewalks.

Antonio said...

Paris, j'taime !! Just finished reading your book, Bryce.
Tre bonza !! Having only spent a short time in Paris, but both staying with local tre belle madmoiselles, it makes me want to return again. I was only 19 on my first visit in 1980 staying on Rue Temple for a week. More recently on Rue St Maur between the canal & the wonderful street market with Fatima a Philosophy Phd.
Loved the jazz bars, multicultural atmosphere.... the village life. Looking forward to your next book. Merci, Bryce !