composite dentaire + toothy expressions in French
machine à coudre


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les moeurs (lay muhrs) noun fpl

    1. morals  2. customs  3. manners, ways

c'est entré dans les moeurs = it's become normal practice
avoir des moeurs simples = to lead a simple life

Please help me welcome guest columnist David Shaby, (pictured below, right). He talks about a few of the differences he has noticed since arriving in France, on Saturday. 

 Kristi and DavidHello, my name is David Shaby. For the last couple of days, I have been living in the Espinasse home. My good friend, Maxime Espinasse, invited me to stay with him on his family's beautiful vineyard. Throughout my stay in France, I have noticed two differences between French and American culture.

One of the major cultural differences is the type of commercials. During second night in France, Max and I were watching  TV when a few peculiar commercials came on. In the first commercial, a man and women were laying down in a meadow cooing to each other. Being from Los Angeles, I was expecting some corny body spray commercial. To my surprise, the commercial was advertising cheese.  In the second commercial I saw, there was a young child who appeared to be depressed. His mother called him over for lunch, the depressed child sadly walked over to the table until he saw his mother take a warm baguette out of the oven. His heart leaped with joy, and the boy was no longer sad. In France, instead of perfume, make-up, and deodorant, there are more food commercials trying to appeal to emotions rather to looking good.

The second major contrast I noticed between French and American culture is the food. Wednesday, I was taken to a French McDonalds where I noticed a major difference in the taste of fast food. I ordered two double cheeseburgers, expecting to taste what I would taste at an American McDonalds. At the French McDonalds, the Double Cheese Burger actually tasts like a double cheeseburger. Unlike in America, there was minimal grease, not very salty and the meat tasted a lot fresher. I believe that the McDonalds in France is overall healthier because the animals in France are more active and better treated than in America.


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Bill in St. Paul

Good observations, David. Keep them coming. It's always interesting to hear comments about the differences between France and the U.S. from a fresh, young mind. Enjoy your time in France.

Hal Newman

David, keep it up; there are many more differences! Enjoyed these initial observations very much. But, above all, have a good time while you're there! . . . this is the best time of your life!

Jens, Copenhagen, Denmark

I agree with Bill. Even for a Dane it's interesting to read observations from others on the differences between France and the U.S. (and Denmark for that matter) and compare them with one's own observations. More differences are most welcome the following days...

Kristi: Looking forward to your photos tomorrow from Cassis with les calangues and les falaises.

Margaret Boerner

If you want to continue as a writer, you should learn the difference between lie and lay.

gail bingenheimer

Adjective + à + infinitive of a transitive verb. In this construction the infinitive phrase specifies the area to which the adjective applies.

Ex. Son français est agréable à entendre et facile à comprendre.
His French is a pleasure to hear and easy to understand.

Bonne journee mes amis! gail

Angela Bell

David, you just keep writing if you love writing. I think you did a great job and though I have never been in a French McDonald's (too many other good places to eat in France, at least for us older folks), I was happy to hear your fine reporting of the difference.

Karen (in Towson, Md) Whitcome

Fantastic job, David. You are a great writer for your age. I loved to hear about the commercials - very funny. Keep 'em comin'!! Your hostess, Kristin is a wonderful writer and observer of life. We readers, on the FWAD blog LOVE to hear about these observations from a light-hearted perspective.

Thank you!! Enjoy every second of your visit.

Ophelia in Nashville

David -- Your observations are great. I remember tasting a McDonald's hamburger in France with our sons years ago and we all thought it was VERY different. Good, just different. Hope you will share more thoughts before you leave. What a change from LA.....

Really enjoyed your interview, too, Kristin. Even got an idea for a book. Thanks!


Hi David,
I remember one of my Romanian gymnastics coaches telling me that she always knew when she was in the U.S. because the commercials always had to do with cleanliness of the home or appearance. She thought Americans were obsessed with clean toilets, clean teeth, and clean arm pits, so you're not alone in your observation.

Mindy - from Manhattan Beach, CA, but currently studying at Oxford, soon to be vacationing in Marseille!!!!

Daryl in Houston

Hey David, thanks for your post. I wonder whether the hamburgers taste different because French cows are grass-fed, while American cows are fed corn.


I've often wondered about the quality of the meat in American fast food restaurants in France. In the States some beef processors have convinced the USDA that beef "trimmings," otherwise unfit for human consumption, can be treated with ammonia gas to kill bacteria and be included in frozen ground beef products.

I can't imagine that practice being allowed in France. I'm happy to see David noted a difference.


Hi David, I'm not so sure I remember the taste being so different. I do remember ordering my 1st hamburger in France on the way to Normandy. I said I would like a hamburger please. In French. The girl didn't know what I wanted to order. I forgot about the silent H. Une amburger si vous plait....ha ha. We laughed. I do remember commercials being more seductive. Hope you enjoy your time in France. Enjoy. It's a wonderful country!


David, you are a very handsome and eloquent young man! I enjoyed your observations of France, never having been there myself. You are a very lucky guy to be able to visit and have the experiences that you are having. You will remember this trip your whole life. I hope the rest of your time there is fantastic! (And don't forget to bring a nice French gift home for your Mom!)
Best regards,

Teresa N.

I lived in France for two wonderful years while my sons were little. We went to McDonald's often (for a little taste of home). The hamburgers tasted just the same, that is why we went! The big difference we noticed in commercials was the use of sex to sell everything. It was always amusing.

Stephanie  Webster New York

It sounds like you're having a great time! I lived in France as a teenager. At first I really missed the food and television from home. Eventually I grew to prefer the food and not mind so much about the television! Enjoy your stay!

Karen (in Towson, Md) Whitcome

Somehow I missed that photo of the boys - they could be brothers!! ... and so handsome. OH LA LA LA LA

Kristin - what a wonderful match this is for them and for the families. Did you use a exchange service?

Diane Scott

David, whether they "lay" or "lie," your observations are "spot on" about both the French commercials and McDonald's, both of which my children will never forget and still often bring up in conversations (we visited in 2004 and 2006). But what is most amazing is that their senses were so infused with the "fragrance" of France that quite often they will say excitedly and with great longing, whether during a ride in the rural county around our home or upon stepping outside on a cooler morning, "Ohhhh, I smell France. Let's go back!" David, you will have a wonderful time and I predict that it will not be your last trip to "la belle France!"

Francis A. McTeigue

Experiment a little. Why would you go to France, a country known for its great cuisine, and eat at McDonalds?

Also, another interesting thing about commercials on TV is that they occur all at once. You don't get constantly interrupted. That's one of the seldom mentioned benefit of socialist governments.


Bonjour David, I applaud your efforts! Most American teenagers wouldn't take the time to go visit a foreign country by themselves during their summer break. That's one glaring difference to me, as an American. European young people are much more open to travel, especially foreign travel, and at a younger age, than their American counterparts. So bravo for going outside your comfort zone.
And regarding the comment from Margaret. Constructive criticism is a good thing, but that comment wasn't constructive. If, after reading your entertaining and insightful story, that was the one comment she could come up with, that says more about her than anything else. I rest my case.
And I too wish you a wonderful, fun filled time at Domaine Rouge Bleu. Take pictures, long walks, meet the French girls (now that would be an interesting story- how are THEY different), make wonderful memories. Bonne vacance! Robin

Jan in Colorado

Hey, it's French TV. Maybe what David said they were doing best describes the ad. My take is that David should be an aspiring restaurant critic. With his writing and interest in food, he has the makings of a fine one, and what a way to live the good life! In a future visit to the Espinasse estate, he could add "wine connoisseur" to his credentials. I'll look forward to reading more of his impressions of French life.

Sandy White

Bonjour David - Excellent observations and interpretations. May I add one - In France one lives to eat, whereas in the U.S. one eats to live. One only has to observe the way meals are rushed in the U.S. versu what one experiences in France.

carol clark

Start keeping a Journal, David. By the time you leave France you'll have the start of a "What I did on my summer vacation" essay for school next fall....or you can write a book.

I'm a 65+ woman from L.A. who goes to Paris twice a year...and the first night I go to Chez McDonald's for a Big Mac and a vanilla frappe--I can't face the French waiter with jet lag. I seldom go to McD's in the States except for coffee, so I can't comment on the beef. Viva la France!


Your experiences as a young adult will be very different from an older adult. You observed the difference in commercials and McDonald's hamburgers. There will be many others that you will see as you and Max enjoy the month of August. Hopefully you will visit again as an adult and notice other differences, (if they don't register now) such as: meal time and what is eaten, daily activities, and the villages surrounding the vineyard. It is all so different, especially in Provence. Life is slower, quieter and more peaceful, although there still might be the peer pressure that teenagers experience at home.
Enjoy, observe, but most of all have fun!

Fred Caswell

David, to lay it on you "straight", nice reporting -- no lie! Also, from having lived over 83 years and visited France 7 times, my favorite French experience of all was meeting the Espinasse family; you are so very, very fortunate to share their home for a period of time.

Kristn's French Word-A-Day captured my interest and appreciation from day 1. She and Jean-Marc graciously hosted my then French teacher and I for lunch and a personal fondness (at least on my part) was cemented. The high point of my last travels in France was a weekend , overnight stay chez Espinasse -- admiration, respect, and affection for them is permanent. During two morning walks with Kristi in old nearby villages a wonderful, lifelong, treasured friendship and love was forged that ignores the 40 years difference in ages.

I hope you take full advantage of this great opportunity you now have. Best wishes --Fred

Fred Caswell

David, did you catch the two grammatical errors above? -- isn't it comforting to know we are all imperfect! Fred

Cheryl in STL

Thanks for sharing your observations with us! You are a lucky guy--what an opportunity you have this summer!! It's one that will always have an impact on your life. ENJOY!

Kristine, Dallas (hot and hot)

David~ Well done in your observations.

While in Paris, years ago, we were waiting for the train to depart to Vernon early in the morning and walked across the street to the McDonald's. I remember it definitely did not taste like home, but it was not bad, just different. I'd jump at the chance to eat at McDonald's if it meant I was in France.

Enjoy your stay, soak in as much as you can and know that you have been enriched by the experience.

Ken Boyd

Spot on David !
When will we learn to eat better and more sensibly .
Probably never, O well, I'll learn to enjoy the positives of
California till I have the guts to move to France [ later ]
Napa Valley


MCDONALD'S? IN LA FRANCE!!! Mon Dieu!! Let me go to France and you come back to the States... I would kill to spend time atthe Espinasse's vineyard...Food like that is experienced once in a lifetimeif we are lucky!!!! I bet Mme Espinasse makes a mean quiche, and anyhing elese you may want!!!! Non, non!!! Mais, non!


Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Hi David,

Sometimes bloggers insert a typo or grammar error in the text on purpose to see if anyone is paying attention. That’s usually my excuse and you’re welcome to use it.

Enjoy your stay in France

Debbie W.

Hi David,
On our first trip to France with our daughter, we hit McDonald's about 2 weeks into the trip. Don't ask me why, it wasn't because the French food wasn't fantastic. We just wanted to try McDonald's in France! But while you're experimenting, try Quik. I preferred the fast food there, it was much more imaginative. Have a wonderful trip.


Why eat at McDonald's in France? There are reasons why so stop bugging the kid. On one trip, we arrived from Spain with NO Francs, starving and looking for the first cafe. Ordinarily, we wouldn't have stopped at a McDonald's but it was the first place we saw. What a difference! Wine. Beer. A week of different FRENCH cheeses each day on the cheeseburgers! Yum! It was a fun experience. Another reason for stopping at McDonald's while in France? On our first trips,we were in a hurry to see as many sights as we could and there were a couple of times when driving to the next city did not allow for a two-three hour lunch. And, after weeks in France, do not deny me an egg mcmuffin!

joie  carmel,ca

It is refreshing to hear the comments of an American teen in another country. The fact that you are noticing the differences and taking them to heart is great David. Now if you really want a good "French fry"....try one of the stands along the road where they have the bag of potatoes right there and make them truly "fresh".
And the long lunch....oh,how I loved those. It is such a special time to be with family and friends, to talk and actually acknowledge each unlike many families here where so often the dining room table is just not used. Enjoy your stay there, and something tells me you will return.


Hello David,

You are very lucky to have Maxime Espinasse as your French friend and to be able to spend some time with his lovely family in "La Provence". What a tremendous experience for you! I'm sure you will have fun and will learn a lot.

Interesting comments about the commercials. I'll go to France for a week at the beginning of August and I'll pay more attention to the commercials. Bearing in mind your remarks about French commercials, I'll try to compare them with what we usually have here in England!

About "Les moeurs, la culture, la langue"... absorb joyfully whatever you can, wherever you are. Keep your eyes, your ears, and your sense of smell wide open!
I've got a feeling your "séjour au Domaine Rouge Bleu, été 2010" will be ... "inoubliable"!

David Shaby

Hello everyone,
Thank you for all the wonderful comments! I really appreciate it!! :D Also, in regards to the grammar, I agree that I made a mistake and that I have to learn the difference between lay and lie. Thank you for paying attention to my writing!
Thank you,
David Shaby

Catherine Burnett

Great observations, David! I look forward to hearing more. My two daughters--16 and 19--are spending the summer in France with my husband, who recently moved there for a job while I remain in Virginia, and they are loving their experiences. And yes, they, too, noticed a difference witht the taste of McDonalds. Wait until you go to Pizza Hut and get an egg on the top of your pizza!

I leave Tuesday for a week in Toulouse and am very excited to return to southern France. Enjoy your stay with Kristin and her wonderful family--I would love to live at their chateau!

p.s. Kristin: Since Bijou, my service animal in training went to "doggie college" to finish her training, I am dogless and am missing my Braise and Smokey-Dokey photos and stories!!! Hint! Hint!

Mary Pace

David, It is terrific to hear your first impressions of France. I, too, was amazed by those cheese commercials! The French seduce us all through our taste buds. I dream about my first taste of French butter. I still don't know why it tastes so good--happy cows are probably the best explanation, as you observe. Enjoy your trip and continue writing about your new experiences. You (and we) will be so glad you did!


Fantastic. It's the 2010 remake of "Pulp Fiction." Here's the dialog from the original:

Vincent: But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Jules: What?
Vincent: It's the little differences. I mean, they got the same **** over there that we got here, but it's just – it's just there it's a little different.
Jules: Example?
Vincent: All right. Well, you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer. And I don't mean just like in no paper cup, I'm talking about a glass of beer. And in Paris, you can buy a beer at McDonald's. And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
Vincent: Nah, man, they got the metric system, they wouldn't know what the **** a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: What do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a "Royale with Cheese".
Jules: "Royale with Cheese".
Vincent: That's right.
Jules: What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: A Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "Le Big Mac".
Jules: [in mock French accent] "Le Big Mac." [laughs] What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I don't know, I didn't go in a Burger King.

Pat Cargill

Great post today. Many thanks, David, for your observations. It's weird how some people are hyper-aware about grammer and resort to rudeness to impress (!ha!) us with their knowledge, but you are taking it all in stride--to be expected of a young man who is off and about for the summer on foreign soil! Great times for you and la famille Espinasse. Enjoy!


Thank you David for sharing - I have travelled to France from Australia 3 times and the most delightful conversations with the french people, have been about food. they are very passionate about it - so I guess that is why their tv commercials are targeted towards food.
Enjoy your time with the family and I look forward to hearing more observations from you.
Dianne xx

Dona Lasseter

I noticed the same thing about the TV ads many, many years ago when I was a student in Avignon. Their ads are remarkably creative, interesting and often very funny. I loved them. Merci beaucoup for helping me dig up some very fond memories!
Dona Lasseter
Peachtree City GA

Julie F

David, I'm coming late to the party here but thanks for taking the time to write for us on your vacation. I can't verify the taste of the hamburgers because my French is just not good enough to ask if they have yellow, American, mustard so I get the nuggets (which do taste better than in America).

I have my own McDonald's story for this week, too. I was driving back to Dijon from Loire on Monday and needed gas. I had to try a couple of exits because I needed a station with a human cashier since the pumps don't take American credit cards. I decided to stop at the Mickey D's after finally finding my gas. It was decorated in 50's American Graffiti drive-in style. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I was staring at a photo of the drive-in theater I use to sneak into when I was younger. I wanted to stand up and announce to everyone "Hey, that's my home!"

Have loads of fun on your trip. We took our kids on their first foreign trip to France and now all they want to do is travel the world.


David's observations are original and funny and he is a promising writer. Writing is a great skill to have whether or not you want to be an author; it will help you do better in any career you choose. I have to join the commentary on lie v. lay. I also find it jarring when I see it misused. Some of you seem to think it's a quibble, but to those who know and care about the difference, it has a big impact on whether we take the writer seriously or not. Many people never learn to use them correctly, so you see them misused all the time, but if you want to be respected by those who do, take Margaret's, suggestion - it it will be worth the effort.


Hi David,
Je suis Indienne.I've never been abroad.But I've heard about France from my teacher here at Alliance Francaise.I think France a wonderful country and you have a great opportunity.Enjoy your stay with Mme Espinasse and Maxime.The McDonald's here is horrible.I've been to the McD's of different cities and find that they are not so good.I think my mom is the best cook and so I never eat out.
Its nice to read your observations.
Hope I might get to visit France someday and see the differences myself...
Keep writing while you are there.
Bonne Journee..
P.S.: Mne Espinasse, I love your writing and am fond of Smokey.My dad also reads your stories and loves Smokey's pictures.


How witty and insightful for someone so young. I hope you are keeping a journal and will keep us up to date from time to time.
Yes, the TV ads are different and oftentimes romantic if you are talking about cheese. In america its all about cars and medicines.
I hope your host will make real tart tatin for you as well as a nice pot au feu. And if you go to paris-try Joe Allen's for a real american burger. And if you have cable tv there watch the difference in the american programs you see here.
Aside to our Danish friiend who wrote. Have you been to this years number 1 world ranked resturant in Copenhagen "Noma"?


Hi David. I was really dismayed that you could come to a country with such wonderful food and eat at McDonald's. I'm glad you thought it tasted better, but you are mistaken if you think the meat you ate came from France. The meat that McDonald's uses all over the world comes from South America and McDonald's is destroying the environment, robbing the poor, and exploiting workers, (not to mention how badly animals are treated in factory farms) to make the meat you ate. All this on top of the fact that McDonald's loads up all their food with hydrogenated corn oil, which is another destroyer of the planet and the human body. I hope that you discover some less corporate American places to eat while you are in France.

Betty Bailey

I love your comments, David. I hope there will be more. You are obviously a very sensible and mature young man.


Hi David....that wasn't just a comment you wrote but an ESSAY! There is no way my son would have written so much unless it was enforced homework from school. I am impressed! Love your essay and hope to hear some more if possible. In the meantime have a wonderful summer holiday in France with the Espinasse family :-)

Jens from Copenhagen

Hampton: No, unfortunately I have not been to Noma (now it's impossible to get a table) but once 4 years ago I attended a wine tasting on the 2nd floor of the same building where the buffet food came from Noma downstairs. It was delicious and very, very light.


Thanks David, I read your delightful observations that reminded me of my daughter's observations when she lived with a French family at your age. She talked about the food, the long family meals, and was amazed by the school lunch which was a 3-course sit-down meal instead of a rush through a cafeteria line. I hope Kristin or Jean-Marc will be able to take you to nearby Vaison-la-Romaine where there are many excellent food adventures waiting you--all delicious and all different from home. Oh, the melons from Cavaillon must be perfect now. Please enjoy one for me. I just returned from a visit from a European country that will remain nameless where meals were meant to be efficient. I can't wait to return to the delightful foods and smells of Provence next June.

I hope, David, we hear more of your observations before your return to the U.S.



Good job on your descriptions, I just started learning French and look forward to reading this blog everytime I recieve and email. Your decription woke my curiosity and is now logged in my mind so when I do visit France I will have to take the "Mc Do" burger and pay attention to the commercials... anyway travel is good for the soul and I hope you have a great time and return home safely!! Live, Laugh and be happy!

Ron Cann

Don't know if you are still following this page. Most of the comments seem like what grandparents would say to a 5 year old. A little too saccharine for me. Your comments were OK. Original and honest. Those who advised you to go and try some real French food are on target. Try some stuff you can't get at home: cassoulet, coq au vin, un-pasteurized cheese (soft cheese!), steak tartare, or some other regional specialties. Seriously, try the cheese!

Marianne Rankin

David, how did you meet Max? And do you speak French? Perfecting it will help you get to know the French people better, and add depth to your visit. Contrary to what some say, the French are not snobbish about their language, and will appreciate every effort you make to speak with them.

You probably know that Max did a sort of internship in cooking a few months ago - on his vacation, yet! Ask him to fix for you a couple of the dishes he learned to prepare.

I hope you will have many interesting experiences durying your stay, and look forward to hearing more about them if you are inclined to share further comments.

Julie Dufaj

Yes, David, you have hit upon some of the things that make France difficult to leave! When my husband and I traveled there, we thought, "These people have their priorities straight! Family and enjoyment of life are paramount, and food is a huge part of that." It may be difficult to return to American consumerism and the ultra-achievement orientation, David, but you can make a difference in the U.S. when you return, by the way you live your life.

barbara hudson

Am a little late posting, just read 8/3..really enjoyed..another thing he probably noticed on the TV is the absence of those awful pharmaceutical ads we have absolute litany of stuff to take for every imaginable is not allowed to advertize prescription or OTC meds in the civilized world...only in America..European TV ads a breath of fresh air!! Could David write more about the nice to see comparisons from a fresh, young perspective.


David -
Your observation about food being a major preoccupation in France is affirmation of a quote by Jean Anouilh who said, "Everything ends this way in France. Weddings, christenings, duels, burials, swindlings, affairs of state - everything is a pretext for a good dinner." Enjoy your stay, keep on observing, and write down those observations. You will not only remember those observations the rest of your life, but you will use them any time you are called upon to write or speak. Buy several gifts appropriate for women and girls and tuck them away for whenever you need a gift. "A gift for me from France? How sweet!"

 nfl jerseys

Good job on your descriptions, I just started learning French and look forward to reading this blog everytime I recieve and email.

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