Dog Panties and Bumper Hugging - is France changing much? by Bernice Clark

Dog Panties and Bumper HuggingSo what are some of the other changes we’ve noticed over time?

We’ve had various homes in France for nearly 25 years and in that time we’ve seen a fair few changes.


Globalisation and multimedia overload may seem to be crushing national cultural differences at a pace but, to my English born eyes, I’m delighted to report that France is still very French. That’s the reason we choose to live here. We like France being French and don’t wish things to be more like our native country. Vive la différence, plus ça change and all that kind of thing!

There may be the odd thing that rankles but bad stuff happens everywhere and the world will never be perfect. You hear about excessive French bureaucracy but we’ve noticed even that’s been simplified somewhat of late, in part due to computers. On balance, the benefits far outweigh any hindrances and, the longer we live here, one happily embraces the differences.


For us, something very French is the large number of traditional fetes still held in villages and towns throughout France. Each year we’re kindly invited to our local hunters’ feast and we’ve grown older along with many of the regular attendees. What’s changed is that far fewer young people hunt and, consequently, the result is an older attendance with very few children and young families now. Pe r s o n a l l y, the thought of traipsing through the countryside killing things is anathema to me and I suppose many younger people feel similarly, satisfying their deep-rooted hunter-killer instincts via digital gaming at home. Much warmer and safer and a lot less gore! With the boar population apparently growing I wonder how we’ll tackle it in a few years if this trend continues.


Boars 1 – Humans 0?

And that leads on neatly to everyone’s perennial gripe, health and safety, which dictates that some traditions have to change rather than die out. At our boar feast we no longer eat boar due to post event upsets reported by people at other similar feasts in the region. The boar meat was blamed and so boar is off the menu. We now have a ‘boar’ feast with other meat on the barbecue plus all the usual extras including copious aperos and wine for those who want it. Any chance that the liquid refreshments may be why some people felt a bit rough the next day?


Shopping hasn’t changed that much in the physical sense as there are still lots of independent shops, farm shops and great markets. Things that have changed are the growth of on line shopping, not surprisingly, plus more big edge of town shopping centres now. A change for the better has been reducing/removing our reliance on plastic bags much sooner than a lot of other countries so we never venture out without our baskets or ‘bags for life’. And how about the availability of some items that feel sure one would never have easily found in France a few years ago? An example? Dog panties! I was amazed to discover these recently in the pet section of a large DIY chain nearby. I thought they must be an April 1st joke and assumed there was a camera filming bemused customers’ reactions. I researched them on line and, lo and behold, people actually dress their dogs in underwear (and no prizes forguessing which global direction that trend hailed from). Admittedly, I’ve yet to see a dog wearing them here or in Paris. As for our dogs, they’ll stay as they lay and continue to ‘go commando’ retaining their doggie naked dignity throughout.


Continuing the US focus, other trends such as fast food have certainly made headway but, I’m pleased to report, not as strongly as in some other European countries. An inherent interest in and love of food together with a seasonal eating focus has always been the norm here and it seems unthinkable that this will fundamentally change any time soon. You can find a small selection of ready meals now popping up on supermarket shelves here and there but that’s only in very recent years and we’re talking about a handful, not an aisle-full, as in your normal Tesco or Sainsbury’s.