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Why French People Love Being Outdoors: Insights from Wanda Sykes

Why French People Love Being Outdoors: Insights from Wanda Sykes

Claire Obry |

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If you've ever visited France, you've likely noticed that French people seem to love spending time outdoors. Whether it's sipping coffee at a sidewalk cafe, strolling through a park, or playing a game of pétanque, the French embrace the outdoors as a way to enjoy life and connect with others. In contrast, many Americans tend to spend more time indoors, whether due to work commitments, weather conditions, or personal preferences.

So what explains these cultural differences when it comes to outdoor activities? According to comedian Wanda Sykes, who is married to a French woman, there are a few key factors at play.

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In several interviews, Sykes talked about how her French wife loves to be outside and active, while she prefers to stay inside and watch TV. She joked that she's "more of a bear than a person," and that her wife is "constantly trying to drag me outside."

Sykes went on to explain that French people place a high value on leisure time and quality of life, and that spending time outdoors is seen as a way to relax and enjoy life. In contrast, many Americans prioritize work and productivity over leisure time, which can discourage people from taking breaks to enjoy the outdoors.

"They take time to enjoy life," Sykes said of the French. "They're like, 'Let's go have lunch and sit outside for four hours.' And I'm like, 'What?! I can't do that!'"

Sykes also spoke about how her French wife's love of the outdoors has influenced her own life. "My wife's French, and she loves being outside. So we got a house with a pool, and now I'm outside all the time. And it's great! I'm still not a hiker or a runner, but I'll get in the pool."

Of course, not all French people are outdoor enthusiasts, and not all Americans prefer to stay inside. But Sykes' insights shed light on some of the cultural differences that can affect how we spend our leisure time.

In recent years, New York City has seen a proliferation of outdoor spaces as a result of the pandemic. Restaurants, cafes, and bars have expanded their outdoor seating areas, and public spaces have been repurposed for outdoor events and activities. This has allowed New Yorkers to embrace the outdoors in new and exciting ways, creating a sense of community and togetherness that was sorely lacking during the pandemic.

Terraces and outdoor seating areas have become an essential part of the city's landscape. And as French expatriates, we cannot appreciate more the new trend! 

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What do you think about the cultural differences between France and the United States when it comes to spending time outdoors? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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