1) Skinny jeans
2) Smart cars, even mini-smart cars (we saw one by Renault that looked like a seat with an engine)
3) Hot pants over leggings with high boots
4) Razor scooters for kids. They’re everywhere. Best scene so far: A 3- or 4-year-old girl on a pink razor scooter, wearing a helmet and sucking on a pacifier.
5) Life outside: In any weather. The people of Aix love the outdoors.
6) Fresh food. Even as new supermarkets open geared toward the young and busy — like the older department store Monoprix’s new, hipper Monop’ grocery store — the fruit and vegetable markets in Aix remain open and active seven days a week. We buy all of our fruits and vegetables at the outdoor market; the food is divine.
7) Scarves, shoes and fresh bread baked daily. Hey, this is France. What would Aix (or anyplace else in this land) be without them?
2) “Bonjour monsieur et madame.” Like Americans, the French have begun to simply say hello (“bonjour”), skipping the extra layer of politeness that’s traditionally been part of greeting someone.
3) Kissing the air next to each cheek. This is still a kissing culture, but considerably less so than it was seven years ago.
4) Umbrellas. Amazing how many people brave the rain without them.
5) Picking up after your dog. Walking on the sidewalk here remains an obstacle course, as it was seven years ago. Even in cities such as Nice, where doggie bags are on many street corners, few people use them.
6) Francois Hollande. The president’s ratings are somewhere in the 20s, much more so because of his economic policies than because of his (alleged) affair.
What still needs some fine-tuning
The French bathroom. How can a 21st century restaurant have a toilet without a seat? But some still do, even in this affluent city.