There is so much we expect and take for granted in the UK, finding nothing strange about our demands.
We want what we want when we want it, and can become quite petulant when our needs are not met.
Our main demand is instant gratification (and I'm saying "our" because to say "your" still seems odd despite being on the other side of the Channel).
We become peevish and irritated if a machine goes wrong and isn't fixed within 24 hours; angry if the garage has not returned our car on the day stated; irrational if business and financial transactions can't be accomplished by a click on the computer.
Should we wish to eat a full meal at 4pm or 4am, we can. Should we want to buy groceries at midnight, we have several choices. Even on Christmas Day there is always somewhere, someone, open for business. And why not, we say huffily, if a need of ours has to be met, however inconvenient. Don't people want the work? The money?
It doesn't take long living in France, particularly in the countryside, to realise none of the above applies. There is no "right" to anything. Nothing, nothing is that pressing or important.
And after a while you simply develop your own Gallic shrug and accept: there is no concept of customer service; tradesmen can take up to a year to fulfil a renovation contract; you will eat out only between noon and 2pm or 7pm and 9pm; and you will be turned away if arriving 10 minutes before closing. Shops are not there for your convenience, public authorities have no desire to help you, and you will be paying twice as much as in the UK for most major items because of the bar on competition.
Many expats waste hours of their lives fulminating against the above. They become furious and rent their garments at being unable to buy a nail at lunchtime.
They annoy the hell out of minor functionaries by shouting louder and earning themselves three more visits and a mound of paperwork.
Me? Being indolent, I just go with the flow most times, but then I've never needed a nail at lunchtime.
Having once been the consumer's consumer I actually rather enjoy this aspect of France, but again I've known what it is to have, and appreciate, the other.
So it was with some surprise, indeed shock, that I watched French TV news the other night and saw the reactions to what is becoming a most vociferous debate over Sunday and late-night opening.
The unions are against it; some retailers, especially in Paris, are in favour of it. As usual there have been demonstrations in the streets, on both sides, to the extent that the Government has been forced into a review of the strict trading laws.
The reporter did vox pops, stopping people in the street for their views. He used the UK as an example and said: "Did you know …"
Their faces told all. They didn't. You could see, flitting across those faces, the realisation that somehow they'd been forbidden access to what many of us take for granted.
And most of them wanted it. Now.
Any opposition is seen as reinforcing France's 35-hour week, which is essentially the problem at the heart of any change, particularly under a socialist government.
In fact, despite the rest of the world viewing the French as lazy, most work far longer hours and are more productive within those hours, as independent research has shown.
Enshrined in law, however, since 1906 has been the guarantee for workers of a day of rest - Sunday.
But nothing is that simple in the "Kafkaesque millefeuille" of rules that apply in France, as Les Echos, the business daily, put it so perfectly recently.
Garden centres and furniture stores are allowed to open all day on Sunday, while food stores can open for half the day. DIY and other retailers must stay shut.
Once again it reminds me of the Scotland I arrived in, in my early twenties. A Scotland where ferries couldn't run and swings in playgrounds were padlocked on a Sunday, a Scotland where to get a drink on the Sabbath one had to be a bona-fide traveller.
It seemed a strange, alien place to me, coming from an England that was then pulling apart all boundaries in the rush towards personal freedom.
Those Scottish punitive restrictions came from a harsh, dour and dark history, and needed to be overturned.
France has an equally dark history but it has always married it with a corresponding love of life, a bubbling over of joie de vivre, no matter how black all around becomes.
And, cliche though it is, France marries it with a belief in the work-life balance.
Paris, like all world cities, is the exception. There, instant gratification is paramount.
But still, in the outer-land beyond, there is resistance to change.
It will, of course, come here too. And frankly, who am I to say it shouldn't?
Been there. Done that. Loved it. It's time for the French to have the same choices. About time in many ways, but sad in its own way too.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.