Do you wish you had more time? France may have the answer

It is too easy to feel increasingly bogged down in work and day-to-day admin and weighed down by negative news and social pressures. If we are not careful, life can be a matter of looking down at our feet (and our phones) and concentrating on each difficult step and never feeling we are quite on top of everything; waiting for the big events, the weekend, the holidays rather than savouring the small, everyday pleasures, the moments that make up most of our lives.

There is, however, a potential cure and it is involves spending as much time as possible in rural France (possibly urban France too but I don’t have experience of that). Anyone who has ever been to France will know that time moves more slowly here. Why is that? Why are there always people sitting chatting on café terraces at all times of the day? How are the French seemingly quite happy to stand in a long queue in the bakery with no apparent sign of frustration? Could it be simply that the French make better use of the time they have? France operates a famously short 35 hour working week and employees have also won the ‘right to disconnect’ meaning that they no longer look at or answer emails out of office hours; a reaction against the so-called “always-on” work culture invading Europe from the States. There is undoubtedly still in France a cultural emphasis on working to live rather than the other way around.

If you prioritise work and earning money, then undoubtedly you will find yourself spending most of your time working to earn and working some more. On the other hand, if your main priority in life is to spend time with your family or to cook beautiful meals or to play the sport you love, then you will make sure that you find the time to do this. What the French seem to intuitively understand is that time is fluid and elastic and, just as Parkinson so famously worked out, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” What the French do differently is simply to make sure that it is their favourite and most pleasurable activities which are expanding to fill that time and not their work.

Hence, for example, restaurants in France are full between 12 and 2pm; the lunch break is still sacred and nearly everyone stops. The French have made food, eating and family meals a priority and allocate the time to this above everything else. In addition, because it is the eating and being with family and friends that is important, it is also rare to see people sitting in cafés and restaurants here communing with screens rather than each other. They focus on what matters and then somehow life finds balance and time just slows down.

If you would like help finding a French property with a better lifestyle and extra time attached, please get in touch:



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