Clichés about the French
- February 15, 2016
- Posted by: Caroline
- Category: French Lessons
Discover some common French stereotypes
Take some time and think about the stereotypical French person. Imagine a rude Parisian with a thick mustache donning a striped tee-shirt and beret. He’s smoking a cigarette while sitting at a café. His long baguette remains close-by so he could sample the various cheeses encountered during the day. As he returns home he surrenders his bike to a German tourist, he makes passionate love to several women, and then doesn’t shower after said extra-martial interactions.
Stereotypes, love them or hate them, are widely held cognitive shortcuts used to describe a group. Here we’re going to analyze the common clichés about the French and dig a little deeper as to why they exist. Are the French rude? Are French women hairy? And how come do the French surrender so much?
French people are rude
Sure, if you spent a week in Paris you probably met rude people.
Yet, you have to remember that Paris is one of the most visited city in the world, so Parisians can occasionally get tired of tourists.
However, in my experience, you will mainly meet nice people if you come with an open mind and try to speak basic French (simply saying « bonjour » instead of “hello” can make a huge difference).
The same is true in other cities. Although people are usually friendlier in small cities than in capitals like Paris. People are basically the same everywhere. If you smile, they will smile back.
French people are lazy
French are notoriously known for being the laziest people on earth. Probably because of their love for strikes. However, according to The Economist, Canadians go on strike much more often than French people and anyone else in the world actually.
Wait, are you telling me that French people are not lazy? No, absolutely not. With an average of 1,453 hours of work per year, France is one of the country where people work the least amount of hours. Yet, they still work more than Germans (1337) for example.
One more proof than clichés can be totally wrong.
French people never speak English
The impossibility to speak English in France often worries visitors.
While it’s true that some French people are reluctant to speak another language than French, you most likely won’t have any problem finding English-speaking people in touristic areas.
If you don’t, you can always try to pronounce English words with a French accent. This works surprisingly well.
As mentioned before, it’s always better to start the conversation by speaking some beginner French as people are much more likely to try to speak English if they see you try to speak their language.
Contrary to the popular belief, French people don’t refuse to speak English because they dislike Americans, but because speaking a language they don’t necessarily speak well terrifies them.
When you are looking for English-speaking people to help you, young people and businessmen are usually a good option as they tend to speak English better than older people.
French people dislike Americans
French people generally don’t have anything against Americans. In fact, going to the USA is the dream of many young French persons.
Sure, many French people criticize American politics and sometimes feel irritated about it, but most of them perfectly make the difference between governments and people.
French women all dress like fashion models
The idea that all French women dress well is widely spread. Many French women are interested in fashion and like to be elegant, but it’s far from being true for all of them.
Most French people buy their clothes in H&M and Zara and wearing clothes from brands like Dior or Chanel remains a dream for many.
French people drink wine all the time
That one is true for some people. Wine is often served with food and every celebration goes with wine.
There is also a whole drinking etiquette that you are supposed to follow.
Yet, younger people tend to prefer cheap alcohol and you will rarely see people drink wine in bars.
Wine is still considered a “classy” drink, something you should enjoy and not simply an alcohol you drink to get wasted.
That’s why you won’t see people drinking wine directly from the bottle for example.
French people eat snails and frogs
Sure, if you go to Paris, you will see plenty of restaurants offering snails and frogs.
These restaurants are touristic restaurants and try to fit the idea of French food that foreigners have.
Yet, these are things French people rarely eat.
If you live with a French family for a few days, you will see that French people probably eat the same food as you do.
French people complain all the time
There are regularly strikes in France. But it’s hard to say whether it is because French people complain more than other people, or because they are less afraid to fight for their rights.
One thing is certain though, French people are not afraid to say what they think and complain when something doesn’t make them happy.
Adapted from: https://frenchtogether.com/french-stereotypes/