I Have been living both in France and Spain.
I can tell you that here in Spain, people are working much more hours (the spanish "siesta" that makes think that Spain is a lazy country is completly mystified).
But they are far from being as productive. They are so messy and disorganised that they have to work much more for the same productivity.
In the French mentality, sweating is only part of the equation if it gives them time for privacy. Frenchs like good life, bon vivants. They would never understand neither accept
to just being part of the system with very little rewarding like you see in Asia for ex. The economic battle, the values of sacrifice and die at work for the benefit of the 2% leaders
is a shocking idea in the french minds.
The nationranking statistics in the link are hilarious and put Spain before France. I don't know who are those funny people (they might be the same than Moody's Islandia accurate qualifications...) but I can tell you that the standart of living in France is much higher than here in Spain. Not a little higher, much higher. Anyone who has lived in both countries knows it.
They have this sort of elegance even in the technology. I have to say it even if there is a long list of things I don't like in France. When you travel you see it. Spanish people are brute, noisy but friendly. French are not specially friendly,
they are basically elegant. They won't be able to build a crude and brutal capitalism, they will just make it elegant, easy, smooth. They are very good at that.
France is a indeed a socialist mind within a capitalist structure and they kind of deal well with the paradox. Capitalism yes, but...a chic one! Not the jungle law.
Middle class life standart is definatly very high. You live well in France. In general, I think that considering all the parameters and not just numbers, Europe is probably the place where the average standart of life is the highest among the 3 economic giants, USA, Asia and Europe.
I would take the Lauper's song: French just wana have fun... not that wrong.
Spain and France are strange bedfellows. Those high sierras running east-west or west-east, depending on which political wing you fancy, are just in the right place: they make the transition from one land to the other simpler, and avoid the problems of merge.
Take hotels: in Spain, they tend to be quite expensive, and the food also, but that’s best taken outwith the hotel; in France, I felt the hotels we used, at the level we wanted to spend, were a lot more inexpensive but the food noticeably better (we mainly used the Logis system), even though the bill at the end might possibly give you indigestion. The chains, however, were basic, clean and well placed just outside the main towns, but pretty interchangeable; great if you were in a hurry, but not much fun if touring.
Eating. In Spain you can generally expect a lunch welcome from 1pm until 4pm or so; in France, our experience of driving around for pics was that unless you bagged your restaurant seat at noon, you’d go hungry. That’s not civilized. It is all designed to suit the eatery and not the traveller. In France, dogs are welcome in many dining rooms; far less so in Spain.
Gasoline. In Spain, lots of pumps; in rural France, fill up at the quarter-tank.
When we came to live here three decades ago, we’d spend the summer evenings, post-dinner, down at the seafront, sitting at a bar and watching the world parade by. And I mean parade. My wife could see a lady forty feet away and tell immediately from whence she came: Italy, France, Germany, Spain. She was never mistaken, as we confirmed when the person would pass, chatting with her companions. The Brits were ever the Brits, and nobody ever mistook them for anything else. Today. I wouldn’t dream of sitting there anymore: everybody
looks like the Brits. You could say that national style, fashion and glamour have gone with the dodo, and that happened long before we waved farewell to Kodachrome.
(But then, I remember sitting in the Diani Beach hotel (as was) in Mombasa, having a couple of drinks when the crocodile walked past us. This wasn’t greeny-brown with tail and teeth, this was American and wearing the ‘classical’ safari suits… five or six of them, in single file, walking the Egyptian (almost) and looking quite unique. That’s what happens when you see too many Hemingway movies or read Vogue and Harper's B and don’t get the joke.)
Fred, tell me: here in Spain I can’t find an insurance company that will give me home insurance and also insure my cameras outside the house; I used to have a pro policy with a firm in London, but they abandoned me when I closed the business (mine, I hasten to add), and ever since, watches, jewellery and cameras were out of the house at our own risk. It seems the same with all of the companies I’ve tried; do you know better?