SparkNotes Blog

French Stereotypes: Mythbusters Edition

LadyM takes a break from playin’ the accordian and rockin’ a beret to give you the low-down on French stereotypes.—Sparkitors

Every country has its stereotypes. Canadians are polite (true, by the way). We love hockey (also true, mostly). We live in igloos and ride polar bears (less true).

France has its stereotypes too. Some of them, like the accordion players and the “ohlala,” I have already discussed. I am going to devote today’s article to debunking or enforcing some common French stereotypes.

DISCLAIMER: If you are French, and the below doesn’t apply… what is the matter with you? No, in all fairness, these are generalizations based on personal observations. As with every stereotype… it doesn’t always apply.

Myth #1: The Baguette. This is perhaps the truest of all stereotypes. French baguettes are lover-ly, and there is nothing Frencher than going to the boulangerie (bakery) and walking home with a baguette or two tucked neatly under your arm.

Myth #2: Invasion of the stripes. Also very true. These people know how to rock the horizontal stripes. Sadly, this is a trend that I cannot partake in. Being a broad-shouldered individual, I have observed that horizontal stripes make me look twice as wide. So, while I admire the style, I shall leave it to the français.

Myth #3: The Beret. Sadly, this myth is antiquated. I haven’t seen a single beret for my entire stay.

Myth #4: Wine and Cheese. So, so true. The French have wonderful wine (if you can get over the initial dryness). And there’s no such thing as a block of cheddar. Cheese is rich and creamy. I imagine that Kraft singles would cause a Frenchman to die of shock.

Myth #5: French SnobberyI’m not sure that I’d use the word snobby. “Particular” might be more fitting. The French have a very specific idea of how things should be, and are not afraid to say when the reality does not meet this idea. They always complain about the weather—if it’s 20, it’s too cold, if it’s 25 it’s too hot (they would DIE in Canada). There’s always something wrong with the food, no matter how perfectly delicious it may be. And even special treats like concerts have problems—all the songs were the same. The artist didn’t interact enough with the audience. Etc. etc. etc.

Also, learn this word. Manifestation. It means protest. And the French love to protest. So, again, instead of saying snobby, let’s say that they feel entitled to certain things.

Myth #6: Fashion Masters. This one is way too true. I have to think extremely hard about clothing choices if I even want a chance at keeping up.  It’s like being born French comes with a special gene that makes you an impeccable dresser. This goes for guys and girls. With all the boys in scarves and man-capris, my gaydar is off the charts, and always wrong.

Myth # 7: The French wear black. This is half true. Fashion here is very sophisticated, so you get a lot of muted tones. I wouldn’t say that it’s an intentional tendency, but let’s be honest- black is dead classy.

Myth #8: The French know how to rock a scarf. Yes yes yes, and I LOVE this look. Nothing like a scarf to add color to the aforementioned black outfit!

Myth #9: Skinny, skinny people. I don’t know how they do it. Nobody I know exercises. They live on bread and cheese and fancy desserts…  and a lot of it. Yet they all maintain their girlish figures. HOW, FRENCHIES, HOW??? Share your secrets with the rest of the world.

Myth #10: The streets are full of mimes. Nope, sorry. I have yet to see a mime. I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.

Myth #11: They smoke like French chimneys. So true. Obviously, no EVERYBODY smokes. Nobody in my French family does. But they are the exception to the rule. Most of my classmates smoke at least recreationally—the smoker’s pit is bustling at recess. The teachers and the students all smoke and chat together. I choke and suffocate slowly.

Myth #12: French… the language of romance. The land of romance it is. Everybody is coupled off. The hallways are full of PDAs, and I’m not talking sweet little pecks on the lips. It’s about as close as you can legally get to copulation in public. Everywhere. There is no escaping the love.

Myth #13: Firecracker tempers. Back in the Home of the Politically Correct, I’m known for easy peevedness, but I’ve got nothing on these guys. You’ll be in the middle of a civil conversation, and then BAM, World War Three. Try not to burst an eardrum.

Myth #14: The French MustacheExnay on the oustachemay. Fine by me. I’m still trying to recover from Movemeber.

Myth #15: Topless Bathing. Kinda true, but I think this mostly applies to aged generations. Unfortunately.

Myth #16: Arm-pit shaving is for n00bs.. So not true. I breathe a sigh of relief. No further explanation needed.

Myth #17: Escargot and Frogs Legs. Your favourite adventurous eater has had neither. Perhaps it’s because Fossette’s a bit finicky when it comes to food. Perhaps not. I kindasortamaybe think I want some, though!

Music. Am I cheating because this isn’t French language? Maybe. It is, however, a French guy singing in English. He’s an indie foreign artist, so he should win you some points with your hipster friends. We saw Cascadeur in concert last night. It was awesome—- and I use the word “saw” liberally because he kept his face covered the entire time.

P.S. Sparklers: I’m going on vacation next week and have no idea what the internet will be like… so I’ll see you when I see you!

We’ll miss you, LadyM, but have fun on vacation! Do you guys have opinions about French stereotypes?

Related post: My French Adventure