23 American Things That Don’t Exist in France

A person standing in front of a window

1. Prom

No end of school year dances for awkward swaying and dirty dancing supervised by unhappy teachers.

2. Spelling bees

They have dictée competitions for who can best transcribe something read aloud, but no spelling bees.

3. Active shooter drills

Fire drills yes, active shooter drills no. The gun situation in France and the U.S. just isn’t comparable.

4. School apparel

Those Université de Paris sweatshirts in souvenir shops aren’t authentic. A few really big schools might have apparel, but even then it’s only because it’s an American thing to do.

5. Yellow school buses


6. Venmo

The two equivalent apps to this popular money-sending service are called Pumpkin and Lydia.

7. Commercials for lawyers

8. Commercials for drugs

Clips of previously depressed women attending smooth jazz concerts in the park with their husbands won’t be convincing any French people to buy anti-depressants anytime soon.

9. Fire escapes

Rather than having a metal stairwell on the outside of a building, France relies solely on stairs inside the building. It seems a bit ridiculous considering the fact that, despite a law requiring smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, some French apartments still don’t have them…

10. Huge drinks

While in France your body will thank you for not ingesting 7-11 Double Gulps’ 50-oz Diet Coke or QuikTrip’s 32-oz Freezoni.

11. Credit scores

The French aren’t that into credit.

12. Drive-thru banks

Which also means no free dog biscuits coming back through the pneumatic tubes when you deposit a check at the bank and your goldendoodle is riding shotgun.

13. Drive-thru pharmacies

You can’t drop your prescription off and also stay in your car in France.

14. Gender reveal parties

Though the country loves gendered nouns, they’re not into gender reveal parties.

15. Hulu

If you want to watch Handmaid’s Tale in France, you’ll have to subscribe to the streaming service OCS.

16. Graduation ceremonies

At private schools you maybe get a cap. At public schools it’s rare to have any kind of ceremony. When you do graduate from university, you go pick your diploma up from the office.

17. Robocalls

No daily calls from the “IRS” or your “debt collector” or your “credit card company” or your “computer software service.”

18. Window air conditioning units

You can get a freestanding one, but you can’t get a window unit.

19. Bridal showers

Engagement parties, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners and weddings are a yes, but bridal showers are a no.

20. Intra-college athletics

No NCAA coordinating intra-collegiate athletics at public and private schools. There’s Le Crit’, an intra-college three-day competition for the Sciences Po schools, and other competitions of the like, but there’s no collegiate sports teams that return to school early for summer workouts, practice daily, travel on weekends to compete against other teams in their division and seek division, regional and national championship titles.

21. Infomercials

Do you injure your back when putting on socks? Do you struggle to open jars? Do you want to wear a blanket and also use a TV remote? Bummer.

22. Cashback

If you need cash, find an ATM.

23. Summer internships

Summer internships just aren’t a thing if you’re attending a public university working on your license (equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree). At a specialized university or a private university while working on your Master’s, maybe, but it’s certainly not the given that it is in the U.S. During the school year, French university students might be able to get an internship, but a 2014 government decree meant to limit the “abuse” and “elevate the status” of interns made it more complicated by adding a lot of requirements, paperwork and general bureaucracy to the process of getting an internship. There’s really no equivalent to the common American summer internship.

A close up of a sign


Get your weekly dose of Frenchly’s news.

Read more

Frenchly newsletter.

A close up of a sign

Get your weekly dose of Frenchly’s news.

Frenchly Newsletter.

A close up of a sign

Get your weekly dose of Frenchly stuff.