Polite notice : before reading ahead on this post, please understand that this is intended as being light-hearted and a funny read, I do understand that some people may view stereotypes as outdated or as a way of me saying ‘all French people are the same.’ Please know this is not the case at all.
So I touched on the idea of stereotypes I have encountered in France briefly in my last post A Day In The Life Of A Language Assistant but after thinking a little more about it I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a ‘Vrai ou Faux’ post for you all.
When I first arrived in France and began teaching in my classes, I noticed a lot of students seemed fascinated in asking me questions to do with stereotypical ideas they had about the UK, like do I drink a lot of tea? (Answer being OF COURSE – cannot beat a good brew and a biscuit!) But I had some fun with this idea throughout several of my classes. They were also keen to know about what kind of stereotypes and clichés (see what I did there ;)) we had concerning the French, so in the spirit of this, here is a list (by no means extensive or definitive) I have compiled along with whether I believe these to be Vrai ou Faux and why.
All French people wear berets.
Ironically enough I saw more people in Barcelona wearing berets. Sadly the beret doesn’t seem to be a statement piece of French fashion that everyone has in their wardrobe and wears. From what I have seen around, there is the odd ‘older’ woman who I feel like believes she could be a living representation of Coco Chanel herself who wears a beret, but all in all it is a lot rarer than you think.
French people smoke a lot.
VRAI – like chimneys.
I swear people look at me like I’m the weird one when they ask me to borrow a lighter and I kindly explain ‘Sorry I don’t have one, I don’t smoke.’ Also on any nights out I have been on, I’ve noticed there is always more people outside smoking than there are people inside the bar enjoying a drink and a dance… not great for the health -.-
French people walk around holding baguettes.
This one has actually made me smile whilst being over here – seeing the little old man going into the boulangerie for his baguette for the evening meal, carrying it under his arm and he has his newspaper haha!
All French women dress well.
Kinda feel like this is like saying ‘all English women dress well.’ Truth is you do come across some questionable fashion tastes and faux-pas’ even in the country that inspires our inner Christian Doir or Yves Saint Laurent.
French people smell bad.
French people do smell any worse than any other person? Not too sure where this stereotype came from, maybe due to the idea of them loving their garlic and onions? I don’t know but seems quite ironic when people over here are quite partial to a trip to a parfumerie or two.
French people wear striped t-shirts.
Vrai – plus ou moins
Similar to the last point I made, French people do not wear more striped shirts than any other group of people but of course there are people around who you will spot in a striped t-shirt. (but imagine my disappointment to find that not every French person looks like this…)
French people drink a lot of wine.
Vrai – plus ou moins
Not gonna lie the people I have met down here know their stuff about their wine, but then I guess you can also find a wine connoisseur or two back home in the UK. Key word(s) here are ‘a lot’ – they don’t tend to go out and binge drink like us Brits.
French people eat a lot of escargots and frogs legs.
Vrai – plus ou moins
Again, yes French people do eat these but not everyone and not all the time (from what I’ve found). Sure if you go to Paris every other restaurant will have this on the menu in order to provide its tourists with the ‘authentic’ French experience but this isn’t everywhere in France.
French people are snobby and rude.
Yes if you go to Paris you will come into contact with some French people who are fiercely proud of being French and don’t have a lot of patience for us tourists but the same idea happens in London in the UK, or New York in the US. But no, not everyone is snobby and rude, on the contrary I’ve found my little French family over here to be very friendly and welcoming.
French people love cheese.
VRAI – don’t mention cheddar.
These guys have special shops for cheese. It’s insane haha! And like I said don’t mention cheddar – in causes an involuntary shudder from any French person (funny though).
French people are very romantic.
It almost pains me to write this, but I don’t know if I am the only girl out there that wanted nothing more than to meet a living cliché himself, full of sophisticated ‘je ne sais quoi’ but no, sadly ladies these men are just a figure of our imagination. See Rhiannon’s post Why French men aren’t charming, just creepy af.
And that’s it folks! I hope you have enjoyed my little mythbuster type post! People who are in France/have lived in France do you guys think the same? Have you had any different findings? Or if you just have any thoughts or comments you’d like to make then don’t be shy!