After having spent 3 months in France, I think it’s time for us to tell you what are the main differences between Vietnam and France.
We won’t go too deep into the culture, nor talk about politic or even talk about which country is the best. This article only goal to give entertaining informations so let’s say if Vietnam come to travel in France they know what to expect.
1. Most things are more expensive but not everything
As you probably already know, Europe is very expensive when it comes to products. Products in Europe are more expensive than products in America and since Asia is known to produce most of the goods these days, you would be surprise of the differences in price.
Currency and taxes
In Europe the currency is strong, 1 euros equals around 25000 Vietnamese dong these times. The sales taxes here are around 20% for most products.
Finally the most expensive thing in France is social charges on Salary which can represent a whopping 80% of the cost of the salary for a company. This means that companies have to charge a lot to earn money in the first place, since wages are so expensive.
For example, buying the same fridge built in Asia here can cost up to 50 or 100% more. The price of a restaurant post inflation is almost 20 euros per person. In Vietnam 500,000 vnd is already a lot even for two people. On average you can multiply prices by 3 and up to 5 to get a good idea of how much things are expensive here.
Weirdly enough some products are less expensive in France. For example the price of beef and chicken. Since meat here is mass produced and farmers are using tons of antibiotics while chickens are jam packed together to the point of sanity hazard.
Europe use to build things to last, so quality is often much higher and the safety protocol way more strict. For example toys for children in France have to pass many tests for being strong enough and not harmful in anyway. In Asia toys are design to be as inexpensive as possible.
2. It’s way more cold but when it’s not the weather is perfect
The weather is obviously very different. Coming from a tropical weather, coming in France in the winter was quite a shock.
Hanoi is famous for having for seasons as well and winter can get very cold too. The cold in France is very different though, it’s very dry and the temperature go way lower sometimes below freezing.
In France sometimes even in the house, wearing a puffed jacket won’t be enough.
On the other hand when the weather change in France, the temperature gets quite perfect. Neither too hot or cold that you want to stay home.
For example in France in the summer people go out between 11 am and 3 pm, something that is pretty much not a good idea in Vietnam.
3. People are less friendly on first encounters but more tolerant overall
It’s known, in Europe especially in big cities, people tend to be a bit busy and cold especially towards strangers. Paris is no different, actually Paris is known to have some of the coldest people and very shy when it comes to speak a foreign language.
Once you understand the culture and you can reciprocate, everything tends to be find. French people are very tolerant people, they will accept you with your strengths and flaws. French people also can speak about anything which can be a good and a bad thing.
For example you can have very deep conversation while eating, it’s actually part of the culture to drink and speak during a meal. These conversations will keep you entertain and make you grow as well.
Perhaps the only time when it can be a bad thing is when there are no restrain towards good or bad topics or behaviors, since everything is accepted, nothing is taboo.
4. Work is a priority but pleasure is more important
While France is not necessarily known to be the most workaholic country, especially compared to USA or Japan. It’s definitely a big part of someone’s identity here. Generally the first thing people ask is what do you do for living ?
In Vietnam it’s common to see people sleeping at work, at the end of the day it’s a natural thing to sleep or to be with your family for dinner. In France, you’ll never see someone sleep at work and hearing kids while speaking to customer on the phone may seems unprofessional.
Regular jobs in France only account for 35 hours a week. So french people know that life isn’t about work but still when you work you have to be focused.
Also in France it’s a Stigma not to work and receive help from the state. People who are not contributing to society will have very low social position.
In Vietnam everything is centered around the family, workers have a sleep break after lunch and businesses are conduct in the first level of each homes often.
5. Material possessions are important and culture even more
France is perhaps the number 1 country when it comes to luxury goods. In France most people wear branded clothes, even the people with low purchasing power.
Here in France people don’t go shopping while wearing pyjamas, like people would do in Vietnam. Obviously if you are going to go out of you house for 5 minutes, you don’t need to change. Well in France most people will look down at you for not dressing up at least casually.
If you want to go to nice places, you better wear nice clothes, people will treat you with more respect. America is like this as well, but less when it comes to fashion, since the country is purely materialistic.
France on the other hand favors culture, knowledge and good taste whereas in Vietnam people favors things like Altruism. Of course there are always an elitist part of the population that competes and shows off a lot in any country.
6. The country is cosmopolite but keeps its cultural roots
If you go out in a city like Paris, you’ll most probably meet every possible ethnicities within 10 minutes. Even though the country is rich and is open to new culture, it also has no problem maintaining its own culture.
Perhaps this is where the country is disadvantaged compared to USA, as a new country, a new common culture was founded.
Vietnam is pretty open minded as well. Even if they have strong traditions they are still welcoming foreigners. They even have dedicated spaces for them to live like Tay Ho in Hanoi. What Vietnam is not is cosmopolite and perhaps it’s not a bad thing.
7. Most people are employed in France
In France most people work and are employed by a large company. They have salary and a contract name CDI, which makes it very hard for employers to fire someone and very safe for workers to have a safety when it comes to incomes.
Whereas in Vietnam, most people are self employed. Even when working in a company, workers still try to to business on the side. It’s just one of the characteristic of Vietnamese, they love to be independent.
In France it’s considered adventurous to try to become an entrepreneur.
8. No one believes in luck in France like Vietnamese do
French people are very rational, they can predict with precision the outcome of any of their actions and anything else they cannot control is basically too complex to be understood.
Whereas Vietnamese people tends to believe in Luck and in Destiny. Numbers are very important in Vietnam, for example the date of your birth will determine who you are, who is compatible with you, if you will be or not successful in life.
Each year is already sorted out and people even try to get lucky by picking lucky numbers, for example immatriculation plate, phone numbers, reselling for hundreds of thousands of dollars or lucky money given each year in odd numbers to give fortune to receivers.
That’s the most surprising fact, that even rich and successful people still believe in luck. Perhaps there is really something Asian understand that the West still denies.
9. Food is old but fresh at the same time
By that, I mean that in France, meat for example is always kept at cold temperature. This is call the cold chain and it prevent the apparition of bacterias. That’s why here you can eat raw or pink meat without any issues.
Now unfortunately, if you buy fish, shrimp or beef, this means that most probably they died a long time ago and are not as fresh as you would buy a chicken in a Vietnamese Market for example.
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