Sep 28th, 2016, 04:21 PM

Six French Stereotypes You Need To Stop Believing

By Camila Craig
Image Credit: Pexels
Tips to avoid cultural misunderstandings while living in France

Being a student in Paris is a dream come true. You get to enjoy the freshly baked morning croissants, the beautiful sights of the city and a vibrant, cosmopolitan lifestyle. Nevertheless, France has a different and unique culture, which can be intimidating. To live in France, you have to be open minded, respectful and willing to adapt to the culture that surrounds you without losing sense of who you are. Stay open-minded by forgetting these stereotypes the next time you run out to the épicerie.

1. French and Americans hate each other.

The United States of America and France have been allies since the 1780s, when France became the first country to give military support to the colonies in the American Revolutionary War. Since then, the Franco-American relationship has been (mostly) peaceful. There are, indeed, many cultural differences which can create prejudice and myths about both cultures. And of course, the US and France are two of the most powerful countries in the worldwhich is bound to create some rivalry from time to time. But there is no inherent hate on either side. 


Image credit: Kristijonas Dirse/Creative Commons

2. French people are rude

Taking into account the cultural differences, it is not surprising that some foreigners perceive French people as rude. The French are not used to smiling at strangers, nor are they very keen on social interaction with people they don’t know. Keep in mind that Paris is a very large city filled with tourists every month of the year. Parisians have things to do, places to be and minimal time for small talk. Some cultures are very social and interactive, while others can be more reserved and quiet. The key is to be mindful of other people and learn how to approach someone who might be different from you.

3. No one speaks English.

False. According to the most recent Eurobarometer report, 36 percent of French people speak English. That is more than most non-anglophone countries. French people are very proud of their language, and they want to hear you try. But if you don’t speak any French, they usually will not be mean about it, especially in public places such as restaurants, bars, museums and other cultural centers. 

Image Credit: Franck Michel/Creative Commons

4. Frenchmen are all handsome and charming

The stereotypical image of the amazing French lover, a slightly older man with luxurious hair who will whisper sweet nothings into your ear all night, is a mere fiction created by Hollywood. Sadly, not all French males are going to look like models, nor speak with a heavy, seductive accent. There are beautiful people all over the world, and always remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

Image Credit: Artur Potosi/Creative Commons

5. French people only drink wine

The French are known for their outstanding wine production. They produce around seven to eight million bottles of wine every year; however, the country has gradually become more open to different types of alcohol. For example, beer is becoming increasingly popular in Paris, especially among young people. Other alcoholic beverages, such as vodka and tequila, are becoming more popular with the arrival of people from all over Europe, and the world.

Image Credit: Stephan Rosger/Creative Commons

6. Gardiennes are mean

The gardienne is in charge of overseeing all of the administrative procedures of the building you live in. She waters the plants, talks to maintenance and makes sure that everything is working. In housing talks, gardiennes are portrayed as hateful beings. However, The gardienne is not there to intimidate you, Her duty is to ensure that everything works like it’s supposed to. It’s her job to keep things straight. They have good and bad days like everybody, so it’s always good to smile and voice a solid “bonjour whenever you see her. The secret is to always be polite. You’ll be amazed how far it can take you.