Thinking ahead, I recently posted on a couple of useful online forums asking people what they wished they’d brought with them from ‘home’. I’d already read a few posts pointing out that pillows are typically square in France and that stocking up on fluffy towels in the John Lewis & Partners sale might be a good investment but many of the suggestions came as a complete surprise.
It seems French paint is different to what we’re used to in the UK and that anything other than the top of the range is generally inferior, hard to colour match and that test pots aren’t generally available. Many people were resorting to returning to the UK to buy paint or persuading visitors to bring supplies though one or two recommended the French manufacturer Tollens.
As we’re going to be running a B&B it seems that we’ll need to be careful to match our beds and bed linen as the sizes vary between the UK and France and if we try and mix and match “nothing will quite fit”. Alongside rectangular pillows, we were also advised to buy towels before we move, if only because the quality we want will be more expensive in France.
Now on to bras… not something with which I am familiar, at least not as a wearer. One poster commented that they “really struggled with bras…” which obviously struck a chord. A discussion ensued about whether French women are “built differently” – presumably not – and the problems with getting bras to fit, whilst others recommended the ‘Caraco’, a sort of camisole I think, as an alternative.
On more familiar territory were things like plug adaptors, toasters, saucepans with lids, tasteful greeting cards, teapots, kitchen units and even bitumenised roofing felt! Of course, many people missed the tastes of home such as English tea, marmalade, Christmas cake and even sausages and cheese! By contrast one person regretted bringing things like mowers and chainsaws because of the problem of getting spare parts and has, over time, replaced them with locally bought items.
A huge thanks to everyone from the Survive France and Lay My Hat forums for taking the time to answer my questions and sharing their experiences.
I agree with the greetings card thing. Unless you go somewhere really posh they are just awful in France. I would also say tights if you are tall/round.