Living Like a Local in La Rochelle by Hannah Jones

I am living in a small city in the central west coast of France called La Rochelle. In my opinion, it is more authentic to the french culture than the major touristy cities like Paris. The locals are extremely nice and encouraging about learning their language. In this city it is very relaxed and the locals love to help me with my pronunciation and comprehension. I have connected with a lot of them through this. They truly love how I want to learn the french language and culture. I have even been offered an espresso a few times because they wanted to sit and talk to me about my life growing up in the United States. I have been asked about my goals in life, what I want to do after college and why I want to learn many languages. They are truly interested in what I have to say and want to know all about me. It really brings in the feel of a tight-knit community.

After a few weeks in, I have adapted to their lifestyle. To paint a picture of a typical day in La Rochelle, let’s start with how they either have a coffee at a local coffee shop. Or if they have work, they get ready to walk, bike or take public transportation to work. It is a small and ancient city, so it is harder drive around in this city with the old and tiny roads that are crowded with pedestrians. You do not have to worry about working Sunday or sometimes even Monday. Sunday is seen as a day to focus on being with your family and friends and being able to enjoy your time together. So, I learned to plan ahead by buying and doing everything I need to do before everything is closed on Sunday’s. Well, of course, the only thing open on Sunday’s are restaurants. In La Rochelle, you will always see every table filled, outside and inside, with people from 5pm until midnight. The locals will sit outside no matter how windy, rainy or cold it gets. I have noticed that they enjoy being outside with their loved ones and also of course being able to have a cigarette or two. Then they go home late and get ready to start the week.

Living with a host family has also given me a closer look to the local lifestyle in La Rochelle. My host mother loves to cook and has told me that in the french culture they value the quality of their cuisines. They are completely against most pre-packaged foods or ready-to-eat frozen entrees. That is why the market is significant in La Rochelle. The market is where you buy everything that is fresh; freshly cut meat and fresh seafood that was caught in the port. This is the place to buy your cheese and chocolate and to buy local homemade pudding, yogurt, and bread. Their is a major emphasis on local and homemade goods in La Rochelle and I am going to truly miss these fresh meals.

In the picture are clams my host mother bought from the market. She steamed them and served them to me and her guests that she had over. Also, when the french families have guests over at their house, they will serve them apéritifs. And then when the food is served they will serve their guests wine.

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