Frank Gröninger is from Mannheim (a town just 1.5 hours east of the Moselle).
He has lived in France for almost 30 years and over the years, he has had plenty of time to discover the many cultural differences that exist between the two countries.
He has just written a book on the subject, written in French (for the French) and in German (for the Germans), sold on both sides of the border: “Douce Frankreich”.
Like all Germans, it took him a while to get used to the typically French “punctuality”
When you say to a French person: “I invite you to my place, come for 8 pm”, in the best case, you will not see him before 8:30 pm. !
In Germany, being late for any appointment is a supreme insult.
Franck Groninger realized this very soon after his arrival in France.
Extract from the book “Douce Frankreich”:
The clichés about your own culture can be difficult to live with … but sometimes it’s practical:
The Germans are serious!
I was looking for an apartment when I was still a student. It was very difficult, because in order to rent an apartment you had to know people who vouch for it. But what to do when you are a student and your parents do not live in France? I shared my desperation with a real estate agent (of Greek origin) and he replied: Are you German? Achhhhhh (he was probably making that throaty sound to show me that he had done “German as a first language”) don’t worry, the Germans are serious, we’ll find something for you. Two months later I had a three-piece.
The Germans are on time!
When I was invited for the first time to a “typically French” dinner which lasted from 8 p.m. to midnight without stopping to eat for more than a quarter of an hour, I was the joke of the evening: the invitation was at eight o’clock and at eight o’clock sharp I rang the doorbell, a bottle of wine in my hand and a bouquet of flowers.
I felt that I was responsible for a moment of stress: Monsieur was still in slippers and Madame still in the bathroom. So I was installed in the living room. Olives and pistachios kept me company and it was only fifteen minutes later that the first guest arrived. At eight forty-five we were full. Twenty forty-five? I expected to tackle dessert at this time, when no one seemed in a rush to go to the next room for dinner.
· – What ? Have you been here for thirty minutes ?, said the last arrival.
· – No, even forty-five minutes.
· – Ah my poor man, it is true that you are always on time.
I understood: at the next invitation I arrived at 8:30 pm, to everyone’s astonishment: “What’s wrong with you?” Yet are you German …? ”
A world must have collapsed for them.
What I did not say that evening: despite my best efforts to arrive late, I was there at eight o’clock, but I had gone to a cafe to wait eight twenty!
The Germans respect fires!
Much later, it was the beginning of Vélib ‘in Paris, I was stopped by the police. I was accused of having burned a fire, although I was convinced that the fire had changed from green to orange, I had even given a last pedal stroke to pass. The policeman believed that I wanted to negotiate when I started to explain myself and he was intractable: Sir, we recorded everything with a camera, I will ask you for your identity card.
So I took out my Personalausweis, my German identity card.
· – Are you German?
· – Yes.
· – So what? What is happening ? The Germans respect fires!
· – Well, I explained to you, the light changed from green to orange when I was crossing.
The policeman handed me my identity card and said:
“Good come on, go!” “.
A few years later I had another experience with the police. To avoid making a big detour with my bike, because I was in a bit of a hurry, I took the street in the wrong direction – this was before the town hall allowed almost all streets in both directions for bicycles.
I had only been driving for three minutes and saw a police car coming in front of me, in the correct direction. Being obedient to the police as my parents taught me, I made a face like someone took my hands in the bag and got off the bike instead of pretending not to have them views, – Next time you play innocent and carry on like it’s your right to ride a bike here, I was advised when I told the story.
So the police car stopped and called out to me:
– Yes, I know, I interrupted, feeling forbidden …
The policeman was puzzled. He did not have to negotiate, the
culprit confessed and was ready for execution. In fact I left him no choice, he had to give me a fine.
A week later, I was walking down the same street, and saw the following scene:
A lady was driving like me in the wrong direction, two policemen on scooters were there. She walked past them, ignoring them, with a very rushed look.
· – Please Madam. It is a forbidden meaning.
· – Oh dear, I really don’t have time for that, she replied with an air that meant: “You don’t have any real criminals to hunt?” “
· – We are all in a hurry, Madam, but you cannot drive in this direction.
· – Okay, but frankly ….
And she continued on foot pushing her bike, the time that the police got back on their scooters and disappeared. As soon as they were gone, she got back on her bike and continued on the path of the forbidden.
So I still had a lot to learn to avoid paying fines.