In France, Ennui and a Heavy Chore Load for Women

Oh là là là là là là.

A new poll whose results were published in an article in Madame Figaro last month says la vie is not so rosy for much of France these days. Nearly half of respondents described having the feeling that “life is passing them by,” and when asked to describe their level of well-being, or bien-être, the average response was “mediocre.”

While the majority of respondents admitted to experiencing both highs and lows over time, one might expect a study such as this one — which was conducted in early August when so many French people are about to go on their biggest vacation of the year — to reveal a somewhat cheerier outlook. Blame it on this summer’s baguette shortage?

“Ah, the French and their trademark penchant for dissatisfaction,” you my be thinking with wistful exasperation. Or maybe just exasperation, given their universal access to everything from dental to dermatologists, daycare to advanced degrees. It all has to count for something, right?

Women showed a particularly high level of frustration when it came to the feeling of not having enough time, an in particular 61% of women said they didn’t have enough time for themselves. Given the famously high standards the French seem to have when it comes to quality of life, maybe this is just a result of high standards — not necessarily a bad thing.

But it also might have something to do with another revealing statistic from the same study: French women report spending an average of 4 hours and 11 minutes on housework every single day. Whether or not you think that’s a lot (I do), it’s more than double the time that men say they spend on such tasks.

The overarching reason for general unhappiness in men and women, the article explains, is stress. French people feel like they are “always trying to save time” and always busy.”This leads to a devaluing of oneself, the feeling of being undervalued (36%), poor body image (35%) and the desire to leave everything behind and lead a completely different life (39%).”

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