French Idividualists

My experience with French people in my private life is more limited. Private life, that means mainly with my neighbors at Yerres in the department Essonnes , where was our first home arriving in France and later at Chevry Cossigny in the department Seine et Marne , where we owned a nice little house with a big garden. Arriving at our new places of residence we were invited by our neighbors, but after that it was more our initiative to meet them. The French live very closely with their families. As in France women with children generally work and do not raise their children at home, this often is the job of grandparents and consequently this creates strong cohesion. Contacts with their neighbors are sometimes limited to a friendly “Hello ,” when meeting on the streets in the morning in front of their homes.


I remember the big storm in December 1999, which took off the roof of our house in Chevry Cossigny and blew off the chimney. For about one month the roofers were occupied to repair the houses in the region, while the rain was penetrating the poorly executed covers. Still the same day a neighbor passed and offered me to repair the roof, climbed on top of the house and rearranged the tiles. As in Chevry Cossigny the electric cables were in the air, the storm at about 190 km/h had torn them apart and for the first time I had to light the open fireplace in the living-room. But after a few evenings  with romantic candle light, people from the village community came with long power lines, telling us that we should link the plugs of our homes across the gardens with the plugs of the houses of a recently built village quarter, where the cables were buried in the ground. We invited our neighbors to a dinner to say thank you for this spontaneous help and to know them better.  We had a wonderful evening together and afterwards it was as before: a friendly hello when we met in front of our houses or at the fence of our gardens.


France and Germany were enemies in two bloody and destructive world wars, the holocaust was a terrible burden for the German image in the world, but I never have been discriminated as a German, at least not in France. I remember however one visit in the Netherlands’ subsidiary, where the General Manager interpreted the visit of the Central Marketing department as “SS control visit”. But having passed some years at the Netherlands’ border I knew that the Dutch people, remembering the German occupation in 1940, were rather reserved towards the Germans.