In this month's issue I have written a piece in conjunction with a close French friend Cedric Alessandri, which is all about getting on with your French neighbours. As Cedric points out, it is helpful if you try and speak at least a little French, and understanding local customs such as how to greet someone the first time you meet, when to shake hands and the curious art of who to kiss and how many times. (Just for the record, as Cedric and I are old friends we kiss each other four times - on the cheek - when we meet and when we part).
Commenting on French people's seemingly anarchic approach to rules and regulations, Cedric sums it up by explaining "As we say here, everyone's midday is when they think it is! Which means that everyone leads their life according to their own rules".
While local customs may sometimes appear puzzling to newcomers, I have found that most misunderstandings, even disputes, between neighbours or in dealings with officialdom, are often the result of a lack of communication - and can invariably be resolved if you take the trouble to speak French and adjust to the way of life. Bon courage!