Are clothes really that important in Paris?
Clichés about the French: how do you distinguish between true and false?
The friends of baguette and cheese are not very hardworking, are grumpy and arrogant, but also elegant and Gourmet. You guessed it: these are the common clichés about the French. Indeed, French residents have a number of preconceived and often contradicting ideas. Why are they so persistent? What historical facts can be used to explain the existence of these stereotypes? How do we compare to our European neighbors? Let's take a sample of non-locals and ask them what stereotypes they associate with the French. You will be surprised! After a short brainstorming session, you will find that many more or less correct statements come back regularly.
The French cliché in a few words:
If we had to give a brief overview of the most common prejudices against the French, they would look like this: 1) When it comes to clothing, the typical French wears a beret, a red scarf and a striped waistcoat called a "marinière". 2) On the go, the French like to have a baguette under their arm because they devour it en masse day in and day out. 3) Cooking and eating are especially important in their lives. France is the land of cheese, red wine, snails and frog legs. 4) The French do not work very much, they are particularly fond of vacation and like to demonstrate or go on strike for any reason. 5) French women embody a certain elegance, are particularly careful with their lines and are into haute couture. 6) The French, especially in Paris, are not role models when it comes to politeness: They are very direct, sometimes even arrogant and condescending towards others, especially tourists. 7) French are gallant and very romantic. 8) They are not role models when it comes to hygiene, which explains their strong fondness for perfumes. 9) The French are not among the best in their class when it comes to expressing yourself in a foreign language. 10) As a curious fine spirit, the French like literature, the "cafes philo" and endless debates to change the world.
Every French stereotype contains a certain amount of truth
As for the baguette, the 35,000 bakeries in France sell almost six billion baguettes a year. In other words, even if bread consumption in France is decreasing from year to year, the French are not ready to give up their sacrosanct baguette! In Europe, the French are not the biggest consumers of bread. The Germans, Bulgarians, Serbs, Cypriots and Greeks are way ahead of us. With 85 kg per person per year, the Germans are European champions compared to our modest 58 kg per year. What the French eating habits As far as concerns itself, it is correct that meals are an important part of the daily routine. In France, unlike in Germany or Switzerland, the lunch break can be more than an hour or even an hour and a half. The French gastronomy (especially the pastries) is world famous. As for the famous French fries, we cannot say for sure whether it was the French or the Belgians who invented them. It is an exaggeration to say that the French don't work a lot. However, the statutory working time is 35 hours per week, which is not much compared to Germany or the USA (40 hours). However, the French are 15% more productive than the Germans and, like many other countries, we have five weeks of paid vacation a year. Are the French big cheese consumers? There is no question! With more than 26 kilos of cheese consumed in France per year and per person, we are undoubtedly the cheese world champions. As for the nickname “frog-eaters” or “froggies”, which our neighbors on the other side of the canal ascribe to us, it does not seem justified. Because let's not forget that frogs' legs are mainly eaten on vacation or in restaurants. In addition, they are also eaten in Louisiana, the Caribbean, Quebec, as well as some African countries. So it is not a French peculiarity!
Every cliché has a historical origin
Just as there are national clichés, there are also regional clichés. If you've seen the film Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (Welcome to the Sch'tis), the people of the South of France have quite wrong ideas about the climate and the mentality of the inhabitants of the Hauts-de-France region (formerly Nord-Pas-de-France). Calais). In this film, people from the south of France think that it is always cold and rainy in this region, although Brittany, Normandy or the Paris region have more or less the same amount of sunshine. Let's not talk about the other stereotypes that associate this region with reality TV, coal mines, and a strong taste for liquor! Anyone who has been to France before will have noticed that the number of French people wearing berets and striped vests is rather small, to say the least. The beret is mainly worn by the residents of the Béarn and the Basque Country. The legionnaires 'green berets and the large alpine hunters' berets are also part of the legend. The marinière, on the other hand, was more worn by the Bretons. The latter are often perceived as stubborn or stubborn. The typical Breton refuses outside authority (Asterix the Gaul, who rebelled against the Romans, was Breton!). If the Bretons defend their language and are proud of their flag, it is because they have been victims of prejudice throughout history. Today the word “Plouc” is a derogatory term for a rude, clumsy or poorly dressed person. Well, some historians now assume that the Parisians used this word at the beginning of the 20th century to name Bretons who came looking for work in the capital ...! Each of us therefore has a certain number of ready-made, more or less positive opinions about certain groups of the population. And the French are no exception to this rule. Some Stereotypes about the French can make you smile because they are so unreal, while others get very close to the truth and can be explained rationally. To check whether certain ideas about the French are true, there is nothing better than seeing it for yourself. So, time to come to France on the French Riviera! Photo by: @Darren Coleshill
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