Fontaine à Chambéry

Fontaine à Chambéry

Friday, May 28, 2010

French Houses (Maisons Françaises)

French houses are pretty different from American ones. First off, most of them have gates to prevent access to just anybody. I find this very interesting. In my opinion, Americans are especially concerned with privacy and personal space, so I would expect more homes in the United States to have gates. In public, the French seem relatively unconcerned if a stranger invades their personal space. It is not a big deal if somebody brushes against you or hits you with their shopping cart (accidentally of course). As an American, I get incredibly perturbed when people at the store get too close to me. I don't need to be touched by a complete French stranger! I think it is intriguing that protecting personal space in public is no issue, but at home it is a necessity.

In order to get into the inner sanctum of the French home, you need to press the call button. Inside the house, the phone by the front door will ring, and you can see who is at the gate. Then, you can either let the person in (by pressing a button to unlock the gate), or ignore them. The gate will protect you, unless of course the person decides that they really want to come inside and they try to climb the gate. I did this the other day in an attempt to prove that I could still enter even without my keys for the gate. Let me tell you, the French know how to make gates! Someone with more upper body strength than me probably could have succeeded in climbing over, but sadly, I failed, and Robin had to let me in. In the future I will be sure to remember my keys, as gate climbing is not a viable option for entry!

The French mailbox has the same fortress-like tendencies as the home. You need a key in order to retrieve your mail. Doesn't it all seem very secretive? What if you happen to lose your key? Are you out of luck? How will you pay your bills? It is all so interesting!

A final observation on les maisons de Français: some people live
in castles! Real castles!!! The one seen in the photo does not have all of the security features of modern houses, but then again, does it really need them? I mean, it has been standing since the fifteenth century or something crazy like that. I especially like the turret.

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