How to translate “French seaside lifestyle”

Three of us were standing around talking this evening. Terry said she had gone to Paris this summer, and acted as the translator for the people with whom she traveled. Since she obviously knew more French than I did, I asked her if she could come up with a translation of a phrase Carol and I had been struggling with this morning, “French seaside lifestyle.” Would it be “le mode de le vie francais de le bord de la mer”? (Terry said “…au bord de la mer.”) And that got us talking about the French lifestyle.

Terry said that although the Parisians have a reputation of being rude, she liked how people were careful to greet one another: when you go into a shop, you always say, “Bonjour monsieur” or “Bonjour madame” to the shopkeeper, and he or she will greet you in kind. So when you walk around Paris, you may not speak to anyone whom you know all day, but you feel that you have been recognized as a person. This is in contrast to the Bay area, where you often aren’t recognized as a person. Terry said the Bay area can feel very isolating, and we both agreed with her.

Jeremy added that the French find little ways to enjoy life. Families will sit outside and spend two hours eating lunch. There are times and places built in to life that are devoted to simple enjoyment. This is unlike our society, where life can get reduced to work, or to buying and selling, or to being on the go all the time.

All three of us knew that we were idealizing French culture. But even so, U.S. culture can feel very isolating, and in the U.S. we often forget that there’s more to life than just being on the go all the time.

2 thoughts on “How to translate “French seaside lifestyle””

  1. Ah, the French are like the Midwesterners. We too know how to enjoy life.

    le bon mode de la vie Midwest

    (Good Midwest Lifestyle)

  2. Mexico was similar. You would never just have a transaction in a store; you greet each other when you enter the shop. It’s much friendlier. I came back to the US determined to continue this practice, but I catch myself walking up to a counter with my stuff and saying “How much is this?” before I even say “Hello.” Then I apologize and say hi, probably bewildering the person.

    Ditto on knowing how to take time and hang out. This can be greatly infuriating to people who want to get on with business. It has its downsides, but all in all, I prefer the “maƱana” attitude to efficiency.

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