49. "Why do they knock off work for two to three hours every day?"

     They keep their stores open two to three hours later than we do. (They did when there were things to sell; there's no point in keeping a store open if the shelves are bare.)

     The long lunch hour is a custom which is not confined to France. It is found in Italy, Spain, the Balkans and many parts of Germany. It is a custom we find annoying because it interferes with our comfort (as tourists) and ours because it differs from our way of doing things.

     The average Frenchman maintains that a lunch eaten at leisure is a lot better than a chicken-salad-on-toast gobbled down at a drugstore counter. "We take time to live as well as work," one Frenchman said.

     The shortage of food, the high cost of restaurant meals, and the fact that only a few factories run messes makes it necessary ours for the average Frenchman today to go home for his lunch.