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How French are seen by the world

As I’m a French woman, I wrote this article in order to share my experiences about French mentality in comparison with British people, and even other nationality. The goal is to give a perspective of how French people are and if it is possible to work with them in spite of their rather strong character,  even if we do not have to generalize, of course.

As I’m going to explain, French behaviour is unique in the world, and to tell you the truth, even French people, at least few French who possess those veracious cliché, also believe that they are unique in the world, in this way, everybody agrees !

And now, here is a list of several stereotypes about French people which are well known all over the world, I prefer to warn you that it won’t be really nice to read :

  • moaner, never happy, impatient, complaining, unpleasant, never smiling:

It looks Parisians behaviour, but actually, not only… And by the way, this cliché is semi-wrong, there are very nice Parisians, and if they are bad-tempered, there is obviously a good reason…because of the traffic, maybe.

Honestly, French people are moaning for nothing and it’s the bitter truth, even if all French are not like that, the people the most unpleasant for foreign people are French people.

I have an English friend who stayed in France for five months, and he noticed it! He was absolutely shocked about the passer-by when he was in Reims, a city in the Northern East of France, very great, very populated, in a sunny day, why isn’t anybody smiling? My friend was embarrassed and I didn’t notice it myself… simply because I was naturaly used to see it. One time, he saw there was an old woman behind him in the hotel’s corridor and just by gesture of civility, he held the door open for her, and she did not react, neither smile, nor ‘thank you’, as if he was not here, and as if the door held itself… he was totally shocked and irritated by this scene and told me he NEVER saw that in his entire life. Then, he asked me if this behaviour belongs to all French people or only people from Reims. It’s just a piece of examples that he told me, because he had other similar cases in this same town and during the same day ! Actually, it’s a bitter reality about a part of French people because abroad, people are courteous in all circumstance, and it is not exaggerated. For instance, when I talk with my British friends, even when I make small talk, they stop all what they are doing by respect, and above all stare right into my eyes to listen to me,  always smiling, and I noted they all do that with people (because they were several doing an ERASMUS) whereas French practically don’t react like this. I could emphasize many others personal findings about the British manners that French people don’t have when I went to England, like tradespeople and shop cashiers who ask me “How are you?’ whereas I don’t know them at all, and they’ve never seen me before. I was shocked because I’m not used to hear that but the first time I heard it, I found it very nice and I realised courtesy was extremely restricted in France.

  • inflexible, idle, and the worst, lazy!!

Indeed, foreign people often have this following strong cliché about working life in France: “The French are on vacation all summer. In September, they go on strike because they don’t want to work. Then, they work because they are bored. At Christmas, they take vacations, etc.” In this case, nobody understand why French always are the most moaners, and also complain more than the others, isn’t it snooty? Basically, it is not very true and honest… It’s a wrong cliché about us, and also offensive for French hard-working!

To The National Institute Of Economical Statistics and Information, French people work in average 37.5 hours per week, including full and part-time. In this case, French are slightly above the European average , that is to say 37.2 hours. Moreover, to break the nasty stereotypes, you have to know that French working time  is more high than… Germans with 35.3 hours, Italians with 36.9 hours, Netherlands with 30 hours or even British with 36.5 hours. In short, not really the country where People Work the least !

To conclude, France has not “the least” weekly working-time, at this level not really “lazy”…

But, as you know, lazy people are everywhere, even if few foreign people tell we are lazy, and we don’t understand why this cliché exists… it’s a mystery. It is not very encouraging to work abroad dear Frenchies, as you already know, it is only stereotypes, that is to say you have to prove the opposite !

We know we are wonderful!

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