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Natalie Portman Talks About Adjusting to Life in France After Moving With Her Family in 2014

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Natalie Portman attends AOL Build to discuss her new film 'A Tale Of Love And Darkness' at AOL HQ on August 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)

Moving is tough — even for Natalie Portman. The Oscar-winning actress opened up to Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday, August 25, about adjusting to life in France after moving in 2014 with her husband Benjamin Millepied.

Portman, 35, and Bordeaux native Millepied, 30, met and fell in love while filming Black Swan. The couple got married in 2012, and initially resided in L.A. with their son Aleph.

Two years after their wedding, they made the big move to France when Millepied was hired as the director of dance at the famed Paris Opera Ballet. This past summer, the family moved back to the West Coast, where Millepied returns to the dance company that he started in 2012.

Natalie Portman Millepied

Benjamin Millepied and Natalie Portman attend The Ballet National de Paris Opening Season Gala at Opera Garnier on September 24, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images)

Consider Portman well-versed in French conduct after living there for two years. “I didn’t realize that I got used to it until I got [back to L.A.] — and I was so surprised,” Portman shared. “You’d get in an elevator and someone start a conversation, ‘You’re so nice!’ And someone would smile at my child and it was like, ‘What a good person.’ People are really lovely here.”

She then explained that the culture in France is slightly more complex than the U.S. “There’s a lot of rules of politeness and codes of behavior there that you have to follow. I feel like it’s a lot looser here,” she mused. “We care about making the person next to you comfortable.”

One example? “A friend of mine taught me that when you go in some place you have to say ‘bonjour’ before you say anything else,” she recalled. “And then you have to wait two seconds before you say something else. So, if you go into a store, you can’t be like, ‘Do you have this in another size?’ Or they’ll think you’re super rude and then they’ll be rude to you. But if you’re like, ‘Hi! Do you have this in another size?’ It’s like, ‘Sure, I’ll help you!’”

This isn’t the first time Portman has discussed the people of France. She recently told the L.A. Times: “Women’s sexuality is much more open [in France]. And also, love of food. They think it’s crazy not to eat bread or cheese. Desiring beauty, desiring men — or women —  desiring pleasure. I think that’s very related to why there’s so many female directors there and not here. Desire is … sort of the center of creation.”

Portman is currently promoting her new film, A Tale of Love and Darkness, which she directed and wrote. Watch her chat with Kimmel above!

About the Author

Esther Lee
Esther Lee
Esther is the Senior News Editor at The Knot. A self-proclaimed pop culture enthusiast, she appreciates a good celebrity interview just as much as she adores Nancy Meyers movies. You can find her kicking off her mornings with barre and a green juice, traveling and exploring new cultures, and rapidly scrolling her feed for the latest and greatest news. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @theestherlee.