What The French Have Taught Me About Patience

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If you've ever been to France your patience has probably been put to the test. 

The French do not operate out of a sense of urgency and efficiency is not a value. Whether you're waiting for the grocery store to open or the waiter to arrive, you'll likely be forced to tap into your patience.

I’ll be the first to admit, half of the time the slow pace of France drives me absolutely insane. Coming from a life in the US with 24-hour everything, next day deliveries, and speedy restaurant service, it's been an adjustment.

But the other half of the time I just laugh and roll with it. And I've come to appreciate the slow pace because it has forced me to develop my patience.

Being patient forces you to wait for what you want and not rush through life. There is a lot we can learn from the French about patience, which might just be the key to their high quality of life.


1. There really is no rush

'Tranquille' is one of my favorite French words. Similar to tranquil, it translates to 'quiet' but is used more to mean chill out, take it easy, no worries. It sums up the French mentality perfectly.

Two years ago, I ordered flowers in May for our wedding in August. I thought this was an appropriate amount of time to get it on the calendar. But the florist nearly wafted me out because he thought it was so far in advance and did not see any need to organize this so soon!

Because really, what is the rush? Some things need to be booked in advance or done quickly, but many things don't. Take a page out of their book and drop the constant sense of urgency. Everything will get done by the time it needs to be done.

2. Meals are meant to be long and leisurely

I was back in the US recently and went out for sushi with my cousin. Granted, sushi is quickly made, but all I remember from the meal was how rushed it was. We ordered a bottle of wine and couldn't even drink half of it by the time our meal was over (we took it home in a brown bag!). We didn't have a chance to get into a good conversation because our orders were taken and the food was delivered so fast, the next thing we know we're heading out the door, brown-bagged wine in hand.

Had this happened before I moved to France, I wouldn't have thought twice about it. But the French style of dining has made me realize that quicker isn't always better.

Meals in France are slow because your food is meant to be savored and your conversations are meant to be long.

The French know that having a long and leisurely dinner (or lunch) is really about spending quality time with people you care about, diving into deep conversation and spending the whole evening slowly filling up your stomach and topping up your wine glass.

Although initially it was too slow and drove me a bit nuts, I've adjusted. And it's actually awesome. Why scarf down your meal just to rush off? Gather around the table and enjoy a meal with your loved ones.

3. Quality of life is more important than profit

This is truly the backbone of the French mentality. They are patient because they are much more concerned with enjoying time spent with friends and family than turning a profit.

Many shops close for lunchtime and rarely stay open past 8pm. It's perfectly normal to see a restaurant closed for two weeks holiday. And they won't go bust!

Simply, the French know that their quality of life - is much more important than their bottom line. We should all take a note out of their book. Sometimes that extra money isn't worth what you lose in time.

There are negatives to moving so slow, and the American in me will never fully embrace the French pace. But there is much to be gained from being as patient as the French, even if it's just patience itself.

How good at you are being patient? Is it something you need to practice daily? I'd love to hear about your patience journey in the comments below!