I mean, almost every culture has its stereotypes, but it seems that the French have more than average.
These are some of the ones I have heard:
“French women are supermodel thin” ,
“French people don’t wash themselves”,
“French people wear stripes and berets”,
“French people don’t like foreigners”.
Of course, there are plenty more. But how are we supposed to know if these stereotypes actually have any truth to them?
In 2016 I moved to Paris for 6 months as part of my Erasmus experience (I also took the opportunity to visit a lot of France) – this was the perfect opportunity to find out in person if the typical French stereotypes were true or just old sayings.
Here is a list of 6 stereotypes about the French I found to actually be true – take a look!
1 – The French love cheese
I have to say this stereotype about the French is indeed true. During my Erasmus experience, I was truly amazed at the sheer quantity of French cheeses I saw in supermarket aisles!
I live in London and our supermarkets don’t have anywhere near as many brands of cheeses.
Apparently, there are up to 400 different varieties of cheese in France (which is an incredible number). What we have to remember is that most regions in France tend to produce their own varieties of cheese.
Cheese is a big part of French culture – it is often eaten after a main course and just before dessert. Do you know there are very precise ways of cutting a piece of French cheese? Follow the link to read Camille’s article about it!
2 – The French take their culture seriously
The French are known to be proud of their culture. And why shouldn’t they be? Art, film and history are highly appreciated in France.
You just have to think of the countless famous museums! Some of the most famous artists were originally French: Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse… and art is still an important part of French culture, as many French people visit and regularly enjoy museums and galleries.
The French also have a massive film industry. I was surprised to see how many cinemas there were in Paris, dotted all over the city.
I read online that “Paris has more movies showing at any one time than any other city in the world.” That enough shows the extent to which the French appreciate movies!
Then there are of course all the château’s brimming with history and even more art (Versailles perhaps being the most famous.)
So yes, the stereotype is true- the French love their culture!!
3 – The French are unfriendly
Ha! This is the most common stereotype I hear about the French. Is it true?
Well… yes and no. Let me explain. Firstly, I have to say that every culture has rude people. That’s just a fact. I’ve met a fair share of unfriendly people here in the U.K.
There is the classic stereotype that Parisians in particular are quite unfriendly. I did find this to be quite true whilst living there. What I mean by this is that they definitely don’t smile as much as the British for example. They actually looked a bit pissed off!!
Also, when entering shops and restaurants, and attempting to speak French with the French, they would either:
1. Respond in English,
2. Pretend not to understand me (Look, I know my French wasn’t flawless at the time but it was certainly understandable… hahaha!)
That hurt my ego!!!! (But I can understand that they must get fed up of seeing soo many tourists daily).
I traveled a lot throughout France, and my impression was that the people in the South or in the countryside were more friendly and approachable. That’s just my experience.
I think there is also a cultural difference in that the French are more direct people, whilst the English and Americans tend to sugarcoat things a little. For example, if someone offers you a coffee and you refuse, they may not insist like we would… We would say something like: “are you sure? It’s no problem at all since I’m making one for myself”. The French offer once. If you refuse, no coffee for you!
Readers, I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!!!
4 – The French love bread
Ahh… France, the land of baguettes.
Yes, indeed the French love their bread – apparently up to 98% of the French population eat bread every day! There is actually a best baguette competition every year – I find that so cool.
Whilst in Paris, it was not uncommon to see people walking outside with a baguette under their arms straight from little bakeries. What I was not aware of is that there are actually different types of baguette in France (I thought there was just one- the classic). Camille wrote a whole article about why you shouldn’t just buy a baguette in France. See, you learn something new every day!
The baguette is usually a staple for every meal in France. I mean… I don’t blame them, they’re delicious.
5 – The French smoke a lot
Yet another stereotype which has some truth to it – French people have a reputation for smoking a lot.
I noticed visibly that there were more smokers in France than in the U.K for example, particularly at social events or whilst drinking wine at a terrasse.
I’m not sure if smoking is considered to be ‘cool’ or just something that is socially the norm? However, the number of smokers is apparently dropping (and it is generally forbidden to smoke indoors according to the law). That’s good news, isn’t it?
6 – The French love drinking wine
Yup, yup, yup.
Drinking wine is a huge part of the French culture for sure.
We also have to remember that they are one of the world’s largest wine producers. Wine can be drunk on a daily basis in France- it’s not just saved for special occasions. Rosé, blanc, rouge … they are all treasured in France.
To the French, drinking wine is all about enjoyment, just being and savoring every drop.
Wine tends to be reserved for meal times. A bottle of wine in France is actually cheaper than you might think- because again, it is something that is appreciated all year around, rather than just on special occasions.
So those are my 6 French stereotypes! Do you have any other stereotypes about the French you find to be true?