France is the largest country in the EU, stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean.
France is the largest country in the EU, stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean.

Instead of create a new article, I decided to comment a world-known article about the French Stereotypes. So the red one was written by me, and express what I saw in January ’12.

This topic is about 10 Tops French Stereotypes.

Marcus Pessoa e Juliana Pessoa in Paris
Me and My Wife in Paris

I think we’ve all heard the whispers, or, in some cases the outright accusations, aimed at France and the French people, and although I’m a big fan of going along with the status quo (leaves us all a bit more time for relaxing at the end of the day, uh?), I thought it was important to write a few of my impressions thus far of all these terrible Jacques & Josephines. Of course, these are just the musing of a small American women living in the south, so caveat lector, let your inner Frenchie beware…

In no particular order:

French Liberty
French Liberty

1.  the French smell

Faux. I always found this one quite funny & perhaps the easiest of the stereotypes to debunk. I haven’t encountered anyone who has strolled out of the Middle Ages lately, so suffice it to say that with modern facilities aplenty, the French are quite a clean and well-perfumed lot.

True! Actually I don’t know if they were smelling because we were in Winter, or it’s always like that. The most of places you could feel a kind of stink, specially in public spaces like metro/bus/pubs.

Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France

2.  French women are impossibly thin

True & Faux.  There are a lot of regional differences in French attitudes & behavior (as most countries) so you can find all shapes here, large & small, but I have to agree that women on average are quite thin.  There are volumes written on the secrets French women possess to achieve their sleek shapes, and my scant field research has revealed two factors:  small portions + exercise.  I haven’t distributed any surveys, but when I see a group of runners whizzing past me on a Saturday morning while I’m contemplating how to work in a pain au chocolat andcroissant for breakfast, I know there is a decidedly different approach to eating here.

True.

Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France

3.  the French are rude

Faux.  Again, this is quite a regional question, and I’ve had my share of run-ins with Parisians who seem to have mastered the if I’m-not-looking-at-you, you’re-not-really-there attitude that made me shake in my ballet flats, but outside stiff bureaucrats & impossibly high-class ladies who déjeuner, the French are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Faux.

French Stereotypes
French Stereotypes

4.  the French believe that they are superior to everyone else

True & Faux.  This is tricky territory here.  Only basing my opinion on everyday observations, and what I’ve seen on télénovelas, I think the French have a rather exceptional lifestyle which extends to healthcare, work, & individual rights.  Maybe it’s a question of being in their own (social welfare) bubble, but when you tell a French person that the average American gets 2 weeks vacation a year, you will invariably hear,”Ehhh?!  Ce n’est pas possible! C’est fou!” It’s not possible and it’s crazy.  The jury’s still out on this one, but I feel the French can’t really believe that other people live differently than they do (or that anyone would subject themselves to a 2-week-year lifestyle) and this makes them come off as thinking themselves superior.

5.  the French are bad drivers

Faux.  Well, that depends how your define “bad”. I find these well-mannered, and well-manicured, French men (& women) are surprisingly aggressive behind the wheel. I don’t know if it’s any more or less aggressive than say your average LA freeway warrior or after-work commuter in Rome, so as soon as my defensive driving skills improve, I’ll report back.

6.  the French are very romantic

True.  Yes, it’s difficult to make sweeping generalizations about an entire people, but the French are quite passionate.  Blame in on the language (who can really keep it together with all those rolling vowel sounds), the food, or the impossibly pretty landscape, but the French have a lot to love in life & they seem to do it quite well.

The French Kiss
The French Kiss

7.  French people wear berets while riding bicycles with baskets full of baguettes

Faux, well almost.  I’ve only seen one bicycle + baguette so far, sans beret, but it was enough to make me stop and take note.  The daily baguette is alive & well, but it’s being transported on foot or by car in these parts.

Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France

8.  the French are food snobs

True.  If you define “food snob” as someone quite concerned with the quality of products, presentation of plates, and art of food pairings, then yes, the French are decidedly on the elitist side. Sure, there are people who routinely pop meals in the microwave, and I was initially surprised at the large number of processed items at the supermarket, but on average, I’ve noticed that people are acutely aware of what they put in their grocery baskets and where they shop.

French Stereotypes
French Stereotypes

9.  the French won’t speak English & will laugh at your French

Faux.  Here come the regional differences again, but where I live people won’t laugh at your attempts to speak French.  You may get the raised eyebrow, head-cocked, “Ehhhh??” if they don’t understand you which, I admit, can be decidedly unnerving. Until you realize that this is common French expression for incomprehension of any sort; albeit a bit exaggerated:

Did you hear that there’s going to be a transport strike next Friday?” – – “Ehhhh?? Didn’t they just strike last month? That’s crazy, who do they think they are?

And more people want to speak English with me than French. Call it a free English lesson, a chance to show off, or a genuine attempt to communicate, but you’ll find all sorts of people willing to talk to you if you can get past a bit of the initial intimidation.

10.  the French eat a lot of cheese

True, thankfully!

 

 

The French Jokes

Most of jokes about the Frenches are because they are considered cowards.

Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France

 

Meanwhile in the french army
Meanwhile in the french army
Meanwhile in France
Meanwhile in France

 

Source : Le Petit France Blog

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