From Frogs Lovers to American Haters: The Hairy Truth Behind Common French Stereotypes

When you study a language and the cultures that go along with it, you’re bound to come across stereotypes.

Here are some French stereotypes I regularly hear – and why they’re not true.  Or most of them, anyway….

French people wear berets

Quick: Imagine a typical, anonymous French person.  Chances are, the person in your mind’s eye was wearing a beret.  But as anyone who’s spent some time in France knows, berets are fairly rare.

They were somewhat popular in previous centuries, but over the past decades, they’ve become relegated to either traditional or military dress/uniforms, or an eccentric or nationalistic headpiece.

If you see someone wearing a beret with their everyday clothes today, they’re either trying to make a statement, or an old gentleman genuinely rooted in a region and tradition where this was once common.  Or, if they’re a woman, maybe they’re trying to look old-school glamorous or whimsical.

Sorry to shatter the illusion, but on the streets of Paris today, you’re far more likely to see people wearing hoodies or even baseball caps, than berets.

French people stink

perfume bottle

When you look for the origin of this French stereotype, the overall consensus seems to be that it comes from the French diet (or somewhat stereotypical diet) of onions and pungent cheeses.

But why would that make it true?  If you eat a lot of onions or stinky cheese, does it make you smell any different?

In reality, a 2015 survey revealed that 57% of French people shower every day. This may sound like confirmation of the stereotype, but as an article in La Depeche points out, the French are far from being the dirtiest Europeans – that honor goes to the English, of whom 80% claim not to shower on a daily basis.

The percentage of French people who don’t shower daily is also only slightly higher than Americans, who this Atlantic exposé considers to be of average cleanliness.

Those are the facts, as much as statistics can be trusted, anyway.

From personal experience, I’ll say that in France, access to running water is the norm, and inexpensive shampoos and soaps are widely available. Also – another statistic – a majority of French people use deodorant. But I will admit, I do often smell body odor on public transportation or in crowded rooms.

I think that the reason for the persistent idea of the French being stinky comes down to proximity and heat. Unlike some countries, air conditioning isn’t a given in most French places, and even when there is air conditioning, it’s not usually at polar blast level.

Even when it’s only a bit warm, due to the weirdly prevalent French fear of draughts, and you’ll often have windows that remain firmly shut, even when it would be nice to get a breath of fresh air. In the US, where I grew up, I was rarely around sweaty people indoors, but in France, it happens all the time.

Add to this the fact that people here are often more packed together because there’s such great public transportation and train networks, unlike in countries like mine, which depend mostly on people taking their own vehicle around.

And “people” may not be the issue. Just one unwashed, malodorous person (often, sadly, someone without access to running water, or elderly people with different hygienic standards or difficulty cleaning themselves) can make an Metro, tram, or train car — or an entire bus — stink, and it suddenly seems like everyone’s to blame.

French people are rude

young woman driving

This is one of the most common French stereotypes, and probably the most unfair.

First of all, not all regions of France have the same general culture or attitude towards other people.  It’s probably like this in the country you’re from, as well.  In France, people from the North and people from the South are generally considered to be warm and friendly – and in my experience, they are.

On the other hand, even fellow French people will probably tell you that Parisians are rude.  Part of this is because they’re not necessarily talking about actual native Parisians but lumping them together with transplants from other regions of France who are in Paris to work and find it too fast-paced and urban, which makes them somewhat miserable all the time.

As a city person, and a former New Yorker, I do not understand either of these sentiments, but they’re a thing.  So, these people may not be radiating sunshine when you talk to them.

Still, as a longtime Paris resident, I know lots of people who (like me) are perfectly happy – even delighted – to live here, and even those who don’t feel this way aren’t necessarily downright rude.

This takes us to the second reason why the French/Parisians are seen as rude. For most French people, overtly expressing your emotions, smiling all the time, and just generally being warm and fuzzy and exaggerated makes you seem insincere, maybe even stupid.

This is why many French people have a hard time believing Americans like me, who have no problem saying things like, “That was the funniest movie I’ve EVER seen!” (and meaning it, in a certain way…for now). The French just don’t show enthusiasm like that, and don’t react to it in an overt, smiling way when other people do it. But it doesn’t mean they don’t feel happy or enthusiastic.  It also doesn’t mean they hate people who do.

Many people who say the French are rude are tourists.  They may come from countries where the customer knows best. They may have previously been in countries where they’re constantly greeted with smiles, even given compliments. Some of this, ultimately, may be insincere, but it’s the way they think they should be treated.

In many places, if you just speak English to a waiter or shopkeeper without saying even a simple greeting in the local language, they’ll try to help, but most French people will consider it rude and presumptuous (and also a kind of scary – more on that a bit later). And when you think about it, they have a point.  If you think a French person is being rude to you, keep these things in mind, and when it comes to the point I’ve just made, ask yourself if you’re being polite.

French people only listen to accordion music

Musician hand playing accordion

Many of the stereotypes on this list come from dated impressions.  The accordion was a popular instrument in France in the 19th century, up to around the 1930’s, with its bal musette music.  Today, you’ll almost certainly hear accordions if you’re strolling around central Paris.  They won’t be coming from a cabaret, but from a busker who wants to be paid for that expected melody.

Some performers do continue to keep accordion music alive, but most contemporary French music is pretty much like music in most Western countries. You have singers of all sorts, from traditional, folk, and regional groups, to pop and rap stars, not to mention a modern French music phenomenon: internationally famous DJ’s and electronica stars like Daft Punk and David Guetta.

French women don’t shave

In the nearly fifteen years I’ve lived in France, I’ve probably seen a handful of women who didn’t shave their underarms, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who didn’t shave her legs. The women with the unshaved underarms were older, maybe starting around age 50.

But globalization of pop culture and fashion and beauty standards means that an overwhelming majority of women from younger generations shave – more than 75%, according to a survey cited in La Parisienne. The article also reveals that nearly 80% of those surveyed were against the “all natural” movement touted by countless feminists and American pop stars like Miley Cyrus.

French people hate Americans

Let’s not say “hate”.  Let’s say that we’re frenemies.

French people actually really like a lot of things about America. They’re one of the biggest filmgoing populations in the world, for example, and most of those films are American.

They also love American music, TV series, and believe it or not, even American food, from McDonald’s, to currently trendy street food (gourmet burgers and other food truck fare).

Most French people want to visit the United States, especially places they’ve seen in movies or on TV, and many have already been – even multiple times.  Some even stay, including many French celebrities.

On the other hand, most French people disagree with a lot of aspects of US culture and politics, whether temporary issues like the current president, or concepts like the lack of universal healthcare coverage.  As I’ve mentioned before, French people also tend to have a problem with most Americans’ bombastic way of expressing our opinions and emotions.

Add to this the fact that French people see themselves as proudly resisting a world power whose language has overtaken theirs in the domains of diplomacy and travel, and you’ll get some insight into that conflicting relationship.

So, if you’re an American in France, will you automatically be hated?  Mais non!  But if you are getting a resentful vibe, show them that you’re more than a stereotype.

Frenchmen are the most romantic people in the world

Romantic Candles as a Pathway in a Bedroom

Ah, l’amour!  The French have a reputation for being romantic and seductive. In surveys of the most romantic languages, French is often among the top results. Alas, this is another French stereotype that isn’t necessarily true, although it’s less “untrue” than the other stereotypes on this list.

The reason is that romance is relative. Remember what I’ve said about the French not being overt and expressive about emotions?  If you’re looking for a man who will be extremely affectionate and sing out their love for you, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree.  If you like grand, romantic gestures – prom-posals, skywriting and the like – look elsewhere.

On the other hand, if you like passion but not making a fuss about everything, prefer sex to a routine date, and value meaningful but not excessive gifts, you might want to give dating a Frenchman a try.

The French always surrender

white flag

I can understand the misconceptions behind other French stereotypes, but this one genuinely annoys me.  If you’re even remotely interested in history, you’ll probably understand why.

For centuries, France was one of the most significant military powers in the world. Even if you don’t know anything about William the Conqueror or the American Revolutionary War (they were our allies, fam!), you’ve probably heard of a dude named Napoleon Bonaparte.  Under his leadership, the French army conquered most of western Europe.  Even after his time, the French went on to military victories in conflicts around the world, as this exhaustive list shows.

So why the stereotype?  It comes from World War II, when France was occupied by the Nazis.  But even then, a number of French armed forces made their way to England, fighting for their country under leader Charles de Gaulle.  And everyday French citizens fought too, in subtle ways we may never know about, as well as by becoming members of the Resistance or the Righteous Among the Nations (people who hid and/or helped Jews escape to safety).

Today, France is still a formidable military power, taking part in major world conflicts.  So yeah, surrender isn’t really a French thing.

The French are intellectuals

The French reputation for being intellectuals started in the Middle Ages, when Paris was the center of education for all of Europe, and it continued into the oh-so-cool philosophers and writers of the 1950’s and ’60’s. The idea is still very present in pop culture today.

To some extent, there is a grain of truth to this French stereotype.  For one thing, philosophy is an actual compulsory subject in French high schools.

Even out of school, many French people keep learning. Thanks to lots of vacation, they’re able to travel and discover new places and cultures. Most French people like to be informed about national and international news, and you may just find yourself cornered by someone who wants to discuss a current event that you’re barely aware of – even if it pertains to your own native country. (As someone who prefers TV series to the nightly news, this regularly happens to me.)

But you’ll meet some perfectly average- or even daft-seeming people here, as well.  And, for all the philosophy studies and reflection on current events, problems that many people think portent the end of civilization as we know it, such as text speak, are issues in France, too.  Just watch some French reality TV shows (there are oh so many), and you’ll see that not every French person is Jean-Paul Sartre or Simone de Beauvoir – nor do they want to be.

The French always eat gourmet meals

Fine dining dessert, Strawberry ice cream, poppy seed mousse and fresh fruit

We often picture French people regularly sitting down to amazing, elaborate homemade meals that would be worthy of a five-star restaurant anywhere else.

While the French do value good food and quality meals, people are people, which means that many of them are too busy or tired or plain lazy to cook like that all the time.

Grocery stores, supermarkets, and Picard, a chain specialized in high-end frozen food, outnumber farmer’s markets, even in France.

The French also enjoy fast food.  Just watch the trailer for the recent French movie, Les dents, pipi et au lit. If you go to the 1:02 minute mark, you’ll see a grown man torturing the kids who have invaded his apartment (long story) by eating McDonald’s while they have to have a homecooked dinner.  Yes, lots of French kids love McDonald’s – although the restaurant’s popularity wasn’t always a given.

The French all have poodles

Dogs are the iconic French pet, right? In reality, there are almost twice the number of pet cats than canines here.

Still, many French people do love dogs. Millions of households have at least one, and yes, if you come to Paris, you’re likely to see at least a few people promenading their pooches down the streets.

But one thing you’ll probably notice is that very few of these are poodles, and if they are, you’ll probably never see a poodle with the puffy haircut you’re imagining.  In fact, according to this study, poodles aren’t even among the top twenty most popular dog breeds in France. Désolée, poodle fans!

All French people love to eat frogs’ legs

Although frogs’ legs are a legitimate thing here in France, and some people enjoy them, they’re not as popular as this popular French steoreotype would have you believe.

Since moving to France more than a decade ago, I’ve been served (but not always eaten) everything from standard meals of chicken, pork, and beef, to less common fare like rabbit, snails, and tripe. I have never had frogs’ legs.  I’ve seen them on menus but only in touristy places.

But in case you think this is some conspiracy to keep France’s delicious frogs’ legs to myself, check out this list of the top ten most popular dishes in France, based on a recent survey.  No cuisses de grenouilles to be found.

If you need even more proof that frogs’ legs aren’t on the menu for every French person, look no further than Rainettes, a recently-opened restaurant in Paris’s Marais district.  Its novelty is that it specializes in this otherwise fairly rare dish.

When it comes to the lower part of an animal that most French people seem to love, think chicken drumsticks, or even pigs’ feet. That’s another specialty, but I know more French people who eat pigs’ feet, than frogs’ legs!

French people can’t or won’t speak English

text do you speak english? in a chalkboard, filtered

Not all French people speak English, but most of the people I know here have at least a basic notion of simple words and phrases.

There are three reasons why a French person may not speak English to you:

  1. They truly don’t know how to speak English. This is especially common among older generations.
  2. They’re fed up with people just assuming they speak English. Picture this scenario: You’re at work, when someone bustles in and starts forcefully talking to you in a language you barely understand. That would be a little off-putting and intimidating, right?  Many French people deal with this regularly.  English is the lingua franca of tourism, but many tourists take it too far. I’ve seen people from all around the world strut up to a French shopkeeper and without so much as attempting a Bonjour, just rattle off “Yeah, I want to buy that keychain.” In this case, they’re the ones being rude.  No matter what country you’re visiting, take time to learn how to say “Hello”, “Goodbye,” “Please,” and “Thank you” in the local language.
  3. They’re intimidated.  This is probably the most common reason a French person won’t speak English to you. The French seem like confident, romantic, cynical souls, so it’s hard to believe that they’re scared of you, a mere tourist.  But their fear is rooted in childhood.  French teachers have no problem openly critiquing – even borderline mocking – their students. Marks are regularly shared, not kept confidential like they are in the US, for example.  I’ve worked at French elementary schools and was regularly shocked to see teachers – who were perfectly qualified, kind, and devoted – say things like, “Well, she’s a bit stupid.” about a student. The kids themselves aren’t any better, regularly teasing each other and classifying each other as a good or bad student, laughing at each other in class, and so on.

And it doesn’t get better with age. First of all, ask just about any French adult, and they’ll automatically tell you, “French people are bad at English,” or even bad at all languages altogether.

I think the opening paragraph of this article about language learning statistics sums it up perfectly.  The author begins:

Ce n’est pas un grand secret, les Français ne sont pas des champions en matière de langues étrangères. A commencer par notre chef de l’Etat. Rappelez-vous qu’il avait écrit un seul mot en anglais sur sa lettre de félicitations à Barack Obama pour sa réélection, friendly pour dire “amicalement” ce qui est un non sens.  (It’s no big secret, the French aren’t exactly foreign language champions. Just look at our Head of State. Remember that he wrote a single English word in the letter he sent to congratulate Barack Obama on his reelection: “friendly”, instead of “Amicably”, which is nonsense.)

Ouch. Not only does that put down French people in general – it even goes after former president François Hollande for a relatively minor mistake.  This is what French people are up against. and not just from cranky journalists.

I might be hanging out with a group of adult friends, and if one of them dares to say something in English, the others are often quick to mock their “bad accent”.  Understandably, this leads to many French adults – even ones with powerful jobs or enviable looks or super-intelligence – to be extremely hesitant about speaking English.

So that’s the real reason why most French people would refuse to speak to you, even if you’re just asking them where the bathroom is.

Hopefully this article has shed some light on why these common French stereotypes are flawed.

The next time you interact with a French person, try to notice things about them beyond the language they’re speaking.  You’ll probably find that they don’t fit any of these stereotypes. And if they do, you’ll at least have some insight into why.

Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.

229 thoughts on “From Frogs Lovers to American Haters: The Hairy Truth Behind Common French Stereotypes”

  1. What about the most common French stereotype…that French people are cheap ‘râdin’ and don’t like to spend money. This is the reputation that French college exchange students have in the US.

    Reply
    • This is because in France everything is “included” (I mean tax & tip). The waiters for example earn a good wage. Tip barely exists. So When going to America, we tend to feel tricked because we don’t understand why the price announced outside is so different from what we actually pay. If we buy a 12$ burger, we don’t want it to end up being 17$ after tip and tax.

      It is again a cultural thing. After living 2 years in the USA I learnt how to tip! But as a tourist who doesn’t know about American culture, it is not always that easy 🙂

      Reply
  2. I have been to Paris several times, each time for 2 weeks, but once for 4 weeks. I have also been to Strasbourg. I did not stay in touristy arrondissementes. I have had only one person in France, a small restaurant owner, be rude to me in Paris. I still don’t know why. I love Paris, from the huge flea market to Chanel. I speak very little French (I forget most of it because I don’t use it at home, and I learned Latin and German in school, instead.) My accent is not good, and only gets better with practice.

    I always try to read about the customs and etiquette of the areas to which I am traveling. I dress nicely, I’m polite, I’m not rude or brusque. But I have seen many Americans who are rude, let their children touch famous paintings, are loud and boorish, and do not attempt any necessary polite greetings. I always say Hello, how are you? Please and thank you, have a good day, goodbye, and ask directions and prices in French. I also learn to count. But you don’t really need to do the latter with cell phones now. I do the same in Spanish-speaking countries, as well, etc.

    I have found the French to be quite gracious. While they aren’t effusive, they are still nice. Generally they are more formal than midwestern and western Americans. I was raised in the Deep South and now live in Vermont, where people to keep such conventions, I think. I’ve had several younger French men help me when I was lost, using up their lunch breaks, and everyone was quite polite and helpful. And no one has made fun of me for speaking English among my friends. Whereas we hear all the time of people in the USA harassing others for speaking foreign languages among themselves. The rudest city I have ever visited was in the USA, and no, it wasn’t anywhere in the northeast!

    I find French men very sexy. I love the way they dress. I love the old architecture in France, the lovely fruit markets, patisseries, etc. And the flavors of yogurt available! I can’t wait to go back to France. I want to go back to Paris, of course, and Brittany, and Lorraine.

    If you want to see berets, I would suggest you go to Basque provinces in France and Spain.

    Reply
  3. The fact about school teachers mocking some pupils and about them mocking each other then is something France has in common with Romania of the 1990s up to about 2000-2002. Now pupils mock and bully each other further on, it`s just that the teachers can no longer do that – cause in 10 years we passed from a semi-dictatorship of teachers, that I`ve been through to a full dictatorship of pupils (Prima/Wonderful/Hen hao/Maravigliosa/Ocin haraso!). I think our “spheres” overleap a lot. The average Frenchman-/woman may well-be like a more civilian and up-tight Romanian, just like the average Hungarian may be like (just like) a more organised and serious Eastern Slav/Balcanic.

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  4. All my life I have been insulted for being of French ancestry. My French family immigrated from France to Canada then settled in America. I am different due to how I was raised. I have raised my children the same. We are different than most Americans and proud of it. The biggest complaint is our friendliness and smiling. My girls are chic which people ask why they are so girly. I have been told I eat like a Frenchman. My father has always worn hats, especially berets. He was a child during World War 2. From an intellectual family, I am appalled by the ignorance of people. We have moved to different places for advancement of university education for my children. We have seriously thought of moving to Europe. I would love to settle in France. You are fortunate to live in the beautiful history of France. Merci.

    Reply
  5. Ahhh… your section about French people stinking made me laugh. I have found that a lot of French people don’t wear deodorant, even though they do sell it in the shops there. I fondly remember, the first time I went to France, (When I was a very little girl,) I curiously noted two French young women sitting in the airport subway, apparently just returning from America. (With their new New York baseball hats on, etc.) What really surprised me was that one was holding a bar of deodorant, and both where smelling it and studying it closely, as if they had never seen such a thing in their entire lives! 😀 Even now I chuckle when I think about it.

    Reply
  6. Thank you for posting this! I am visiting France soon and I just wanted to know how to interact with the people there.

    Another group of people with bizarre stereotypes is the Finns. My friend in college is from Finland and she pretty much doesn’t fit into all the stereotypes.

    -Finns are racist, cold, evil, godless people (My friend is the nicest person you’ll ever know – and as a bonus, she’s Christian)
    -All Finns are hardcore gamers (The only games my friend plays are Angry Birds and Candy Crush)
    -The only music Finns listen to is metal (Surprisingly, she does like some punk, but she mostly listens to rap)
    -Finns are internet trolls (My friend is still learning how to use Snapchat lol)
    -Finns are excellent English speakers and speak with a British accent (My friend arrived in the US not speaking a word of English and her accent is pretty thick compared to some of the Latino students on campus)
    -Finns love saunas (My friend prefers the swimming pool, she actually told me that when I asked if she likes saunas)
    -All Finns eat reindeer (surprisingly, she hasn’t! Her favorite food is lasagna)
    -All Finns have weird, unpronouncable names (Her name is Phoebe. Not even joking.)

    Reply
  7. A number of these stereotypes are American based. If not all of them. Like surrendering. The Anericans love to mock the French “cowards”. And as a French woman in a predominantly Anglophone N. American region I would not be surprised if the best lover idea is American too. There are men here who go “oh French woman” when first meeting with a tone that implies I am a slut (despite dressing & acting conservatively which makes them all the stupider).

    Reply
    • IMPORTANT POINT TO ADD ABOUT FRENCH BRAVERY: most people just don’t know their history. If you’ve travelled in France, you will have noticed that every town and village has a central square with a monument to the World War I dead. Think about it. So many men lost in a generation that there were not, in fact, enough military men to defend France when the second World War arrived. The American stereotype of French surrender is extremely insulting and ignores the work of the Resistance. On the other hand, if you are American, there is no warmer welcome for you in France than near the beaches of Normandy. Just don’t “rub it in” elsewhere.

      Reply
  8. How Rude Can One Be?.
    In 2005, my Caucasian lady friend and I had arrived mid-morning at Gare du Nord after an exhausting all night journey. I approached an official counter in a well-attended part of the terminal, and before I could say more than a sentence, the young white woman – in her early 20’s – looked daggers at me, threw her left arm to her side – gesturing – and yelled: “English!”. She looked at me like she wanted me dead, nearly spitting. A young white man in his late teens or early 20’s at a desk looked on and giggled, like a little girl.
    I, of Asian-Polynesian extraction, was stunned… just nodded and went back to my friend to recover. We had to get our Euro Passes validated; a more mature, courteous woman helped us do that, in another part of the terminal [I was honestly afraid she might make an error dating the pass; then what would we do?]
    Needless to say, I have never visited France again. I have never purchased anything French, e.g. wine, food, gifts; “made in France” and “French” mean to me rudeness and small-mindedness. I always experience schadenfreude when I read or hear of French misfortunes.

    Reply
    • I’m really sorry for you. But I hope you realize your comment is very ironic.
      You only described one bad experience about two persons on one of the most dangerous place in Paris and you concluded “made in France” and “French” mean to me rudeness and small-mindedness. Worse, now you’re even happy now when you read or hear of French misfortunes.
      Don’t you think this is a rude, small-minded and very sad way to think?

      Reply
    • I am so sorry that you experienced this in Paris… But please consider that we are not all like these 2 persons ! Thank goodness !
      The best way to know a country and locals is to live in a few years…
      As I am living in your beautiful country (USA), I think I know more about americans, than you about french…
      It’s a bit of a leap to conclude as you did…

      Reply
    • I’m sorry but you can’t just let one experience make you hate a whole country and the people in it. Sure, some people in France are racist, I’m half French and got beaten up and bullied by some kids (who’s parents were literally not even French whereas my mother’s French ancestry goes back hundreds of years so tbh I’m more French than them) because I was different. I have aspergers syndrome and I’m lesbian with short dyed hair so I stand out and I have been discriminated against but some French people are the sweetest and most accepting people I’ve met and have shown me endless care and support. I may seem biased but I try to keep a neutral and open mind. Please don’t hate people before knowing them personally!

      Reply
    • I totally agree. I am in France right now and I will never return. The French people have ruined my trip. Twice I have been in tears and I’m pretty tough. The younger people seem to be worse but overall the men are the rudest of all ages. They are the meanest, angriest, most negative people I have ever experienced and I’ve travelled a fair bit. The men who have offered to assist, have always been from a western country. Quite frankly I find their attitude very immature and of course discourteous. They need to pull their heads in and get over themselves. If they were to behave that way in Australia- especially to a woman – they would very likely to be told off or even punched by another man. They certainly wouldn’t last more than a day in a job before being fired. I have more than one counter experience like that. Here’s just one of many experiences: I went to an Orange mobile boutique because the 2 days later the mobile data wasn’t working on the SIM plan I had purchased at the airport (I found out later that the surly counter person should have registered me then and there but just sold it over the counter without even a Bonjour or merci). Before I could even complete my sentence on my issue (I’d spent over an hour trying to find the place), the young male ‘assistant’ speaking very loudly (why do they do that?) told me they couldn’t help and then went into a verbal rant in French with the young woman assistant standing next to him, waving his arms around. Was he the manager? Who would know but neither he nor the other woman were taken aside and the rest of the staff didn’t even attempt to intervene. So sorry for spoiling his day. It hasn’t been any better down South – which I’m surprised. I rented a car and on the first day on the road, I had cars queing behind me, tooting and driving past screaming abuse even though there were 2 clear overtaking lanes and I was doing 100 kms (yes I know it’s 130km on the highway but it was my first drive on the right side getting used to a new car and just how hard is it, to move into an overtaking lane?) I got so upset I was crying and shaking and had to pull over to the side of the road a number of times. At every roundabout, the same tooting and carrry-on would occur (I have been a driver for -35 years without incident so not completely inexperienced). One car full of youths who had been sitting on my bumper bar (in Australia that’s classified as menacing driving), pulled to the adjacent lane, pulled down their window and screamed abuse, then lurched in front and put their breaks on so they slowed down to about 60 kms- on a highway! I was such a nervous wreck that I ended up 50 kms from my intended destination and had to traverse back and forwards through 6 toll booths to get to my destination. I just couldn’t think and my hands were shaking so badly all I wanted to do was get on a plane back to Australia no matter the cost. The French are just bullies. I loathe them now and have no interest in blogs that tell me how to fit in so they will accept me in all my imperfection – because obviously we haven’t taken the time to understand them and we must be at fault.. They are the one’s that need to change and I can tell you right now, they don’t want to. The exception has been my 50 yr old Air BNB host in Paris (a truly nice person as opposed to a nice Parisian) who told me that she is very embarassed by the way the French behave and loathes them herself. She is saving to move to another country because she is fed-up with putting up with all the negativity . From the horses mouth.

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      • Sorry to disappoint you but first, France IS a western country. Then, Orange is an awful company, all the French people will tell you that telephone’s companies can ruin your day (bc of the waiting for nothing, poorly formed employees, etc.). Driving is bad in the south of France : the roads aren’t as good as in other regions, getting a driver licence is easier than in big cities and people aren’t afraid of the police, so a lot of them doesn’t respect the law. However, none of this allows you to generalize and make bad statements about a nation of more than 67,000,000 inhabitants. So you had bad experiences, it’s unfortunate but you know what ? Once I watched a YT video in which kangurus were bullying tourists in Australia, and I’d never saying Australian people are awful educaters and touristophobic bc they didn’t teach kangurus to behave properly with tourists. It’s just as much nonsense to assume that in Australia you would never have been yelled at by young drivers bc you were too slow on a highway.

        For the first comment : are you Fucking serious ? Going through racism/xenophobia doesn’t make it ok to generalize about the racism of an entire population. French people are not rude white racists, because French people are just as diversed as the USA, maybe more. If I wanted to expose arguments of the same level of shitness, I would say that the USA are the country that voted for Trump, made asylum procedures impossible for immigrants, allows politicians to claim that the Shoah never existed, and lets the KKK post white-supremacist bullshit on the public space. I don’t know if you’re american but I’m pretty sure I can do that with all countries in the world.

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  9. LOL!!!!!! What fun!!!!! Stereotypes!!!!! I’m from Canada and Americans have some odd/funny ideas about us also. We all say “EH” a lot. WE don’t. We don’t live in Igloos..We ARE polite, but my American friends say we can seem/appear cold and distant. Not everyone plays hockey.
    The “smelliest” people I’ve been around were in the Chechoslovakia.
    The strangest foods I’ve experienced were Chinese (also the rudest/pushiest people it seems).
    We eat a lot of French style foods, but I would guess peasant type French food like Tortiere, Quiche, and lots of Cassoulets.
    We have many tri-linguals, bi-linguals, and mono-linguals (Americans!!!!!) LOL!!!!
    Poutine is our national (not recognized as such) food dish. French fries with gravy and melted Quebec cheese curds…….MMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!
    I prefer pancake syrup to Maple syrup…..UGH!!!! Maple syrup is too sweet.
    Thanks for your interesting, insightful, and most true article.
    France is a beautiful country, laced with very nice, interesting, and beautiful people!!!!!!!

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    • 1st… there’s nothing like Czechoslovakia! It’s either Czech Republic or Slovakia… unless you’re living back in the 1940s.
      2nd… I’m from Czech Republic and I do not smell bad and what you’re saying makes me REALLY MAD!

      Reply

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