6 reasons why Portugal is better than France


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The deified image of one country and the undervalued image of another contribute to a wrong scenario. But it is a fact: in many ways Portugal is better than France. And we need to talk about it.

I do not write this text with an academic bias, nor do I come to talk about economics or international politics. This is a simple text about having spent a week between work and tourism in France and, subsequently, a week between work and tourism in Portugal. And about having realized what I already knew – but which does not seem to be obvious, especially to the Portuguese themselves.

Portugal is better than France. I’m not talking about public policies, electoral or financial issues. I’m talking about simply being on the move (since for living wages, benefits and public policies are key). But the fact is that when it comes to traveling, it’s better to be in Portugal than in France. And here are some unusual justifications – besides the obvious blue skies, the friendliness and the taste of the food – for that.

The Portuguese do not serve small portions in restaurants: we all know that France is a more expensive country than Portugal. But paying too much for a dish that barely feeds one person alone is still something that bothers me. In Portugal, a dish is never poorly served. And it often still provides for two people.

People don’t smell so bad on public transport: it’s summer and, in fact, it’s difficult for a bus to smell good at the end of the day. But the difference in smell from French to Portuguese public transport is really significant.

The Portuguese smile at the sight of a baby: I was traveling as a mother for the first time. In France, a smile or two – and often an air of annoyance at the space taken up by the baby carriage in any and all environments. In Portugal, in 90% of cases, people smile at the baby, play, ask its name. In Portugal I feel that the baby is welcome.

Respect for the crosswalk: something I had never imagined happened. I was afraid to cross the street at the crosswalk in Paris. Often the behavior of drivers reminded me of São Paulo: between haste and indifference, they simply did not stop the car to cross. In Portugal I feel much safer walking on the street than in France.

The airport: we all know that Lisbon airport is absolutely overloaded. But compared to Orly airport, the service is even better. From the friendliness at check-in, to the behavior at the metal detector, to boarding, you’re much less likely to get upset in Portugal.

Wines and cheeses: the French have always been able to sell their image as the best in the world in a number of subjects. But the fact is that Portuguese wines and cheeses leave nothing to be desired compared to the French – and they cost a lot less.

No, Portugal is not better than France in everything. But it is better in a number of subjects – and little is said about it. The deified image of one country and the undervalued image of another contribute to this scenario. But it is a fact: Portugal is better than France in many ways. And we need to talk about it.

Ruth Manus (for Observador), Born in São Paulo in 1988, I am a lawyer, university professor and writer. I live between Lisbon and Brazil. I graduated in Law at the Pontifical University of São Paulo, where I did my post-graduation in Labor Procedure and my Master’s degree. I have lived in Paris and Rome, where I did my postgraduate studies in Trade Union Law. In Portugal, I did a postgraduate degree in European Law and now I am finalizing my PhD in International Law, both at Clássica. I am a professor of Labor Law and International Law. I have been writing in Observador since 2016. I have 7 books published. Passionate about Portugal and Brazil since always.

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