The police have guns. Real ones. With bullets and everything.

People in both countries call crisps “chips”.

Although in France, this is pronounced “sheep”.

The United Statesians are well known for their one-size-fits-all: “Have a nice day”. Usually at the end of a retail-related conversation or transaction.

Over in France (a country that seems to pride itself on unnecessary complexity) the expression is the equally simple: “Bonne journée”.

Unless it’s the evening, in which case: “Bonne soirée”.

Unless it’s Friday evening, when you say: “Bon week-end”.

Though on Sunday morning: “Bon dimanche” is the way to go.

And just before any meal: “Bon appétit”.

Whatever have-a-nice expression should always be followed by: “Au revoir” (or “à bientôt” or “à tout à l’heure”, depending), with each person playing the game, thusly:

PERSON A: “Bonne journée.”

PERSON B: “Bonne journée.”

PERSON A: “Au revoir.”

PERSON B: “Au revoir.”

Needful to say, Person B has the opportunity to say (instead of “Bonne journée”): “également”.

Or “pareillement”.

This one I call: The “Mailbox”.

Which also comes with a way to tell if you’ve got mail.

Typing ‘Mailbox’ instead of ‘Postbox’ reminds me of a scene from my time working in the US.

ME: (TO DEPARTMENT SECRETARY & OTHERS NEAR HER DESK) Where can I post a letter around here?


ME: I’ve got some post to send.


ME: (SHOWING LETTER) Where do I take this?

SEC & OTHERS: (BRIGHTENING) Oh. The Post Office.

This is the first of my least popular (with United Statesians and French people alike) series of posts on the astonishing similarities between the US and France. (The title is a bit of a giveaway here.)

I call it: The “Stop” sign.

Photographed moments ago at the end of my street. In France.

I know.

Wait until you see the others.