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    Post European cultures : (1) The French

    I have been studying the cultural differences between European countries for many years. I have lived in 5 EU countries (UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain) and learned each language, which helped a lot analysing cultural differences. I also come from a small country (Belgium) with 3 cultures/languages and lived from 30min to 1h away by car from 4 countries (France, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands).

    As a native French speaker with a culturally French education, and having been countless times in France, I know France almost as well as a French person. Not being French helps me see the country as an outsider and clearly seeing what is typically French from what is not. I will thus start this discussion about European cultures with France. I have read several times and would like to recommend you the 2 following books about European cultures by Richard Hill. I have met the author, bought the books from him, and I can say that I agree on almost every sentence he wrote : EuroManagers & Martians and We Europeans.

    This little introduction is in itself very French. I will proceed point by point, sometimes introducing a comparison, to define what makes the French what they are. Please understand that when talking about cultures, we have to generalise, and that the view given is what is regarded as normal in a particular country, rather than unusual. It does not work for everyone. It's just a trend and may change with time (over generations).

    1) The French like complicated things.

    In a political debate on French TV, it was once said "In France it is simple to complicate things, but complicated to simplify them". This summarises to the perfection one of the fundamental aspects of French culture.

    - Illustration :
    Quote Originally Posted by EuroManagers
    The American mistrusts complex things and tends to oversimplify. The Frenchman, by inclination and education, mistrusts simple things and tends to over-complicate. It is for this reason that no Frenchman, by American standards, can ask a simple, straightforward question when speaking in public. By French standards, no American speaker can give a full, sophisticated answer.
    - Example : The Economist describes the French tax system to be of 'fiendish complexity'. They cite, for instance over 40 deductions in the French pay-slip, as opposed to just 2 in Britain.

    2) The French are theoretical. They prefer rhetoric, abstractions and ideas to facts and practical thinking.

    - if Shakespeare had been a Frenchman, he would have said : "To be or not to be, that is the question. But the question is badly formulated."

    - The French favour design over practicality. They like innovation for the sake of creativity, even when there is no practical need for it. (btw, this is all the opposite of the Japanese)

    - The French raison d'etre is "measured intellectual performance".

    3) The French political dilemma : an autocratic egalitarian society.

    They claim to follow the 18th-century Revolutionary values of "liberty, equality and fraternity" (written on coins, stamps, etc.), but France is actually one of the most hierarchical and vertical society in the Western world. The political and economical systems are extremely elitists. A few chosen ones study at the Grandes Ecoles, then join the administration at a high-level from the start to "learn how the system works, and make connections", then become top executives in major public (or private) companies. There are very close ties between big businesses and the government in France, and executives are criticised for knowing better how the government and administration works, than their own company. This creates a huge gap between the top of the company and the rest.

    French society and language are also exceedingly formal compared to most other countries.

    4) The importance of forging relations.

    Like the Spaniards, the French like to create relations with someone over a long lunch before starting making business with them. They need to get to know what kind of the person they are dealing with, and create an emotional bond.

    Quote Originally Posted by EuroManagers
    Disregard for the customer is a way of life in the French business world.
    ...
    Indeed, in French eyes, putting oneself readily at the disposal of a total stranger is an affront to one's self-esteem : like the Spanish, the French have difficulty in recognising the difference between service and servility.
    5) The decision-making process

    French people (e.g. managers) typically make a quick decision that they might revise later on. This is the opposite of the Germans who think carefully about all the possibilities then make a decision that they will not change afterwards.

    6) The râleur character

    This also came up in debates on French TV. A Swedish journalist said that one of the first things he had to learn when he arrived in France was "râler", a difficult term to translate as it is so typically French (the word doesn't exist with that meaning in Quebecois French), and which we could translate as "complain about all and everything, not always with justification". The Swedish journalist explained that he had never met people who complained more than French, anywhere in the world.

    French people like to strike, protest or demonstrate to voice their discontentment, while the others complain about people striking and demonstrating...

    One ironic example of the French râleur is the commuter in his car who complains in the traffic jam about the fact that other people have also decided to come to work by car : "Why don't they all come by public transports ?" In other words, they are never satisfied and don't try much to understand the other person's point of view.

    André Gide, a French writer who received the Nobel Prize of Literature, said that "French people are Italian people in bad mood".



    There is more to say, but I will stop here for now.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 05-10-11 at 20:51.

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    That is really fascinating, Maciamo, thanks for this topic and all the info you have posted! Errrr... I can't really contribute much but I'm interested to keep my eye here anyway!

    Hehe - my (Japanese) ex said that I was "very French"... except for the fact that I don't drive too fast (!!!). Uhhh, at least, not when there's someone else in the car... :winklove:

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    You know Maciamo, what you wrote applies not only to the French, but to all southern europeans. We are all just like that, with the possible exception that we are not as obsessed with egalité like the French are, mostly because we do not claim paternity of the modern concept.

    For us, the main characteristic of the French was always their Arrogance, as they seem to believe that all must conform to french standards when in France and also thinking of their system as the best possible; and by thinking that everyone in France should speak French.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keoland
    For us, the main characteristic of the French was always their Arrogance, as they seem to believe that all must conform to french standards when in France and also thinking of their system as the best possible; and by thinking that everyone in France should speak French.
    But the French system is the best possible, is it not? And of course everyone must speak French and conform to French standards when in France! It goes without saying!

    I kid, I kid............. (like it's not obvious, lol)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keoland
    You know Maciamo, what you wrote applies not only to the French, but to all southern europeans.
    There are clear differences as well as similarities. I don't know so well about Portugal, but I stayed a few months in Spain, and it struck me as so culturally different from either France or Italy. The Spaniards and Italians differ from the French in that they are less formal and distant, less theoretical and intellect-obsessed, and not as complicated. Just an example to show the differences of legislation between France and Spain. In France, you need a university diploma for anything : to have a real estate business, to open a restaurant, a hotel, to be therapist, masseur, or whatever. In Spain, anyone could open a real estate agency without qualifications. The French are more than obsessed about paper qualifications.

    Regarding the economy as a whole, the difference between France and Italy is huge. While successful French companies are usually big and state-owned (in any case big), Italian ones are mostly SME's. The French government is also much better organised, structure and willing to display France's grandeur, than the chaotic and incapable Italian government.

    For us, the main characteristic of the French was always their Arrogance
    I'd say that the French are conceited, condescending, proud of their culture, have an exagerated opinion of themselves and the achievements of their country. EuroManagers quoted a Frenchman saying "We French are full of ourselves, but justifiably so".

    ...as they seem to believe that all must conform to french standards when in France and also thinking of their system as the best possible; and by thinking that everyone in France should speak French.
    I could agree about the fact that everyone living in a country should speak the national language (if there is one). The French often refuse to speak English even to tourists (even when they can), because they still can't admit that French language has lost its place as the world's lingua franca. So, addressing a French person directly in English, without even trying to speak French, is a blow to their self-esteem. I can understand that because, although I am not French, it pisses me off when Japanese people (or other non-Westerners) assume that I am an English-speaker just because I am a Westerner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao
    I kid, I kid............. (like it's not obvious, lol)
    If you had a french flag in your 'residence' place, I would not have been quite so obvious...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    There are clear differences as well as similarities.
    Yes, there are differences, It's just that I think that the ones you pointed out aren't the ones, for the most part...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    The Spaniards and Italians differ from the French in that they are less formal and distant, less theoretical and intellect-obsessed, and not as complicated.
    You're right about the spanish being informal. They differ from the portuguese heavily in that regard.

    They often use terms like "se quieres obtener este libro" in ads and newspapers and so forth... in Portugal, that is *unthinkeable*. To address grown people in that manner is a gross insult. Such treatment is reserved for small children, or people one knows really well, not the public at large.

    I often mention this to them, and they get surprised at our formality.

    This was not always the case, mind. A bare 30 years ago, spaniards would have used the "se usted desea obtener este libro" form to say the same, which is much more correct.

    And I did notice that they also don't care about their academic titles, which is odd In Portugal, everyone should be addressed by their title, so that one is usually called "dr. X", "Prof. Z" or "Eng. Y" in one's daily lives (indeed, employees would show NO respect for people without a title).

    For example, if I go to a shop, the keeper usually says "welcome, doctor" (which is correct; I would warn him if my title was another, should that be the case). Whenever I ask for something, it will be answered "yes, doctor", and so on. This is particularly true at professional level.

    Spaniards, on the other hand, have recently lost that habit. I have seen often spanish graduates decline the right to be treated by their title here. They do not seem to realize that by doing so they lose a great deal of respect...

    It's all a product of the times we live in, where good manners are all but forgotten...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Just an example to show the differences of legislation between France and Spain. In France, you need a university diploma for anything : to have a real estate business, to open a restaurant, a hotel, to be therapist, masseur, or whatever. In Spain, anyone could open a real estate agency without qualifications. The French are more than obsessed about paper qualifications.
    Let's just say the spaniards *lost* their obsession. Rest assured you'll have a hard time establishing yourself here without a diploma (and the TITLE it carries with it).

    Also, would you really trust someone without qualifications

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Regarding the economy as a whole, the difference between France and Italy is huge. While successful French companies are usually big and state-owned (in any case big), Italian ones are mostly SME's. The French government is also much better organised, structure and willing to display France's grandeur, than the chaotic and incapable Italian government.
    Italian and spanish companies are often big at a *regional* level, because the countries are far less centralized than France or Portugal. In Portugal we usually have big companies, most of which used to be state-owned (and the state often keeps a 'golden share', even today).

    See Spain: in the Energy sector, the big companies are Endesa (Castille), Gás Natural (Catalonia) and Iberdrola (Basque Country). Unión Fenosa was recently sold to ACS to keep it castillian and HidroCantábrico belongs to EDP (Electricity of Portugal, the BIG portuguese energy company, which is trying to use its monopoly in Portugal to expand to Spain).

    It is more of a regionalism vs. centralism issue. At the proper level, our companies are always big.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I'd say that the French are conceited, condescending, proud of their culture, have an exagerated opinion of themselves and the achievements of their country. EuroManagers quoted a Frenchman saying "We French are full of ourselves, but justifiably so".
    Indeed. And they have been bugging us with THAT for over 800 years...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I could agree about the fact that everyone living in a country should speak the national language (if there is one). The French often refuse to speak English even to tourists (even when they can), because they still can't admit that French language has lost its place as the world's lingua franca.
    Yes, it's the second bit that ticks us off. After all, to get ANYWHERE in Europe we basically have to go through France, and they *still* expect us to speak French. C'est très ennuyant que je dois parler leur langue a chaque fois que je vais aller faire un tour du cote de l'Allemagne, par example

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I can understand that because, although I am not French, it pisses me off when Japanese people (or other non-Westerners) assume that I am an English-speaker just because I am a Westerner.
    Weeelll... we gotta admit that English is so widespread that any westerner wealthy enough to come to Japan probably does speak it...

    Regards,
    Keoland

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keoland
    They often use terms like "se quieres obtener este libro" in ads and newspapers and so forth... in Portugal, that is *unthinkeable*. To address grown people in that manner is a gross insult. Such treatment is reserved for small children, or people one knows really well, not the public at large.
    Same in French, but it is changing among young people (especially in non business situations). The Italians use the informal form more freely than the French, Portuguese or Germans.

    Also, would you really trust someone without qualifications
    But do you usually know people's qualifications everytime you enter a shop, real estate agency or restaurant ?


    Italian and spanish companies are often big at a *regional* level, because the countries are far less centralized than France or Portugal. In Portugal we usually have big companies, most of which used to be state-owned (and the state often keeps a 'golden share', even today).
    Many Italian companies are still family-businesses. The Italians tend to distrust people outside their circle of family and friends. France is so formal and hierarchical that everything has to be on a national scale. Very sucessful companies in Italy are typically SME's (all the brand clothes, pasta makers, sport car makers, etc.), while really big companies are typically scandal-ridden or dysfunctional (e.g. FIAT, Olivetti, Parmalat, Italian banks...). French SME's son't have such a good reputation, but look at public companies like SNCF with its TGV (the first and most developed network in Europe), EDF with its nuclear power stations (the most in Europe), Air France, etc. Big banks and telecom companies are also much more successful in France than in Italy.

    Yes, it's the second bit that ticks us off. After all, to get ANYWHERE in Europe we basically have to go through France, and they *still* expect us to speak French. C'est très ennuyant que je dois parler leur langue a chaque fois que je vais aller faire un tour du cote de l'Allemagne, par example
    Not if you fly there. From Portugal, I'd expect you to fly to go anywhere in Europe (esp. with all the discount airlines nowadays), except Spain (for which you don't have to pass through France).

    Weeelll... we gotta admit that English is so widespread that any westerner wealthy enough to come to Japan probably does speak it...
    Does one need to be wealthy to go to Japan ? If you work there, your salary is adapted in function. If it's because of the flight, I usually find some under 500 euros return (but to/from London or Paris, not Lisbon).

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    It's a mistake. The French are not "southern europeans" but western europeans. And also not "latin". C'est un cliché, un "lieu commun", une "idée reçue" comme on dit en français.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 07-05-13 at 15:37. Reason: encoding problem

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    Quote Originally Posted by riri52 View Post
    It's a mistake. The French are not "southern europeans" but western europeans. And also not "latin". C'est un clich�, un "lieu commun", une "id�e re�ue" comme on dit en fran�ais.
    France is is a stange that starts from ancient times to modern,
    as most of European cultures is a mix (Gascon, Gaulish, Germans Normands and Northern Celts etc)
    the unification started after Carlomagnos when he gave his son a teritory like modern France but took heart and bones at France revolution and Napoleon's wars. after that France become one nation.
    Surely France as Spain and Portugal is not Latin but has enough Latin and belongs to Latin family of languages.

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    I am also for the prevention of foreign words into the local languages if there are equivalent terms in meaning and usage that can be utilised instead of foreign word.

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    Well, I must admit this is quite an accurate description... You just forgot our obsession
    about our "exception culturelle"...
    Oh! and it's not that most french people don't want to speak english, they actually can't!

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    Do you find any cultural differences between wine consumption countries v. beer consumption countries? I know people drink both, but I read an interesting data on beer/wine oriented countries somewhere before...

    I know it was my poor French ability, but one of the reason why I quit studying French was that I realised I should study more English, not in France, but in a multilingual country.
    This is just my excuse not to study French any more, not my generalisation at all. :)

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    I lived in France (Paris) for 4 years and I was surprised how ultra "Bourgeoise" the french are The ""FAMILY"" is the big thing in france.
    no wonder they are having problems now
    They should drop the 'Egalite, Fraternite, Liberte" from their currency because this was the France of a dream long gone.
    France is an eliteist white country of priviledge with a surprising emphasis on ENA Science-Po, Ecole des Mines etc no wonder they are rioting!!! What a straightjacket! for the "non" french

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    I have watched a popular weekly debate programme (called "Ca se discute") on a French TV channel with topic "Why do French people have such a bad reputation abroad ?". The people invited to the debate where 3 Americans, 1 Irish, 1 Pole, 1 Afghan and 1 Quebecois, all living in France, and 3 French living abroad.

    It was a very interesting debate, and served as a good self-criticism for French people. Many agreed that the main defects of the French are to be :

    1) argumentative and raleur ( interestingly there is no exact translation in English, the closest being "grumpy", or "complaining a lot about anything"). They mentioned that French people were not afraid to say what they thought, even if it led them into trouble. This is even true in politics (e.g. argument about the war in Iraq). No wonder that the adjective "frank" comes from "France".

    2) pretentious/arrogant/chauvinist (about their country and culture) => especially Parisians. Many people tend to confuse Parisians for all French people. However, even the French themselves agree that Parisians are much more arrogant and unpleasant than average. Unfortunately, most visitors to France get their first (or only) impression of France in Paris.

    3) irrespectous of rules and laws => they mentioned that when a new law passed, an average French would determine him/herself whether it was reasonable enough to respect it. That is why even some police officers do not bother fining people smoking in non-smoking areas, if they disagree with that law, which is unthinkable in most of the English-speaking world.

    4) bad at speaking foreign languages (especially English, although most English speakers cannot criticise them on this), or more specifically, be unfriendly to people who do not try to speak French (but so are people in English-speaking countries about English in my opinion). => especially Parisians

    5) dirty (e.g. dog turds in the street; no shower before sex...), though elegant and charming.

    Among the other (good or neutral) things they mentioned :

    1) the image of the French lovers - although many women interviewed agreed that it often meant a lot of baratin ("sweet talk") uttered too lightly. The 3 Americans also agreed that French people are much more open about sex than Americans. People are not ashamed to talk openly about it, or to display nudity at any time of the day on TV (in commercials, series, movies...). French men also flirt more easily with anyone in the street, and are generally not afraid to have their advances turned down or "lose" (no fear of being a "loser" like in the US). Another interesting remark was that French women flirt less than American ones, and expect more initiative from men. One guy said that French women over 30 years old will rarely call a man if the man doesn't call them.

    2) the relaxed and enjoyable lifestyle (the art de vivre). On this point, one American guy said he hadn't got used to French timetables yet. He explained that when you want to make a business phone call (esp. to a government office), you shouldn't do it before 9:30 to 10am as they only get started with their day and may be a bit grumpy or disorganised, then not between noon and 2 to 2:30pm as it is lunch time, and many place already close at 5 or 6pm, which leaves little time available. On many points, French-speaking Belgians are like the French, and this one is no exception. Despite being a Belgian, I also found it difficult to adapt to this system after living in countries like Japan, the UK or Germany.

    3) the importance of feelings over money in relationship => the Americans agreed that in the US, no matter how good or sincere a person was, money typically came as a determining factor in a relationship, because people had to be "winners" with ambitions and money. They said it was normal to ask someone you were dating "how much money do you earn ?", which is unthinkable in France. People in France tend to hide how much money they make. In France, someone with a nice car get it scratched by envious people who think they'd deserve it too. Contrarily to the USA, people who succeed are much more respected.

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    In France, the law only stipulated that foreign/English words couldn't be used when a French equivalent existed.

    I think you are speaking in formal sense. I notice the French like to use the word gstoph, but they do have the equivalent garrêth, especially when they are talking to their kids.


    I could agree about the fact that everyone living in a country should speak the national language (if there is one). The French often refuse to speak English even to tourists (even when they can), because they still can't admit that French language has lost its place as the world's lingua franca. So, addressing a French person directly in English, without even trying to speak French, is a blow to their self-esteem. I can understand that because, although I am not French, it pisses me off when Japanese people (or other non-Westerners) assume that I am an English-speaker just because I am a Westerner.

    I donft think the French are pretending to not able to speak English. I think on average their English speaking ability is not well because on average they are not very keen to learn foreign languages, with a certain number of exceptions. However if a Frenchman is to go live in Australia, Canada (not counting Quebec)...etc they will make effort to learn English and assimilate into the new host countries. They think it is normal.


    Itfs true it is not a good idea to speak directly to a French in English it is best to use some broken French then some broken English then they will do the same and bother to reply. This does not include the blacks and the Asians who are French citizens, ironically they are more willing to speak English to you if they can, at least from my personal experiences.


    I have watched a popular weekly debate programme (called "Ca se discute") on a French TV channel with topic "Why do French people have such a bad reputation abroad ?". The people invited to the debate where 3 Americans, 1 Irish, 1 Pole, 1 Afghan and 1 Quebecois, all living in France, and 3 French living abroad.

    I donft think French people have such bad reputation abroad, maybe just to other Western countries? In Asia in general they donft have bad reputation. If a French person goes to say HK for vacation s/he will be treated pretty much the same as an American who goes there for a visit. Most Asians who still live in Asia sees European decent people pretty much the same, generalizing I know but I think it is like that. I notice European decent people who donft have much experiences with Asians also tend to generalise Asians too.


    Pretentious/arrogant/chauvinist (about their country and culture) => especially Parisians. Many people tend to confuse Parisians for all French people. However, even the French themselves agree that Parisians are much more arrogant and unpleasant than average. Unfortunately, most visitors to France get their first (or only) impression of France in Paris.

    Yeah even some of the French from other provinces complain about the Parisianfs chauvinist/, pretentious/arrogant attitudes.


    irrespectous of rules and laws => they mentioned that when a new law passed, an average French would determine him/herself whether it was reasonable enough to respect it. That is why even some police officers do not bother fining people smoking in non-smoking areas, if they disagree with that law, which is unthinkable in most of the English-speaking world.

    Maybe, the French joke about that this is the reason why there can never be a gHitlerh in France.


    Bad at speaking foreign languages (especially English, although most English speakers cannot criticise them on this), or more specifically, be unfriendly to people who do not try to speak French (but so are people in English-speaking countries about English in my opinion). => especially Parisians

    The first time I went to Europe, I went with my sister. The French were the only European among all other Europeans who didnft try to communicate with us in English. At that time I spoke not one single word of French, and my sister had never learnt French in her life. She was instantly put off by such attitude, she thought they were making things difficult for tourists as English is the world language not French even though we were in France afterall we were just visiting. I wasnft as annoyed as my sister. I ended up learning French later on but not my sister. Yes it was in Paris!


    The image of the French lovers - although many women interviewed agreed that it often meant a lot of baratin ("sweet talk") uttered too lightly. The 3 Americans also agreed that French people are much more open about sex than Americans. People are not ashamed to talk openly about it, or to display nudity at any time of the day on TV (in commercials, series, movies...). French men also flirt more easily with anyone in the street, and are generally not afraid to have their advances turned down or "lose" (no fear of being a "loser" like in the US). Another interesting remark was that French women flirt less than American ones, and expect more initiative from men. One guy said that French women over 30 years old will rarely call a man if the man doesn't call them.

    Never dated Americans, so I canft compare French to Americans, the two white Europeans decent people I have dated are Swiss and French. In terms of flirting they flirt equally the same, openness of sex, the same. Not sure about their womenfs sexual behaviours. though.


    The relaxed and enjoyable lifestyle (the art de vivre). On this point, one American guy said he hadn't got used to French timetables yet. He explained that when you want to make a business phone call (esp. to a government office), you shouldn't do it before 9:30 to 10am as they only get started with their day and may be a bit grumpy or disorganised, then not between noon and 2 to 2:30pm as it is lunch time, and many place already close at 5 or 6pm, which leaves little time available. On many points, French-speaking Belgians are like the French, and this one is no exception. Despite being a Belgian, I also found it difficult to adapt to this system after living in countries like Japan, the UK or Germany.

    I am not so sure about this. I know for a fact many of the CEOs of companies in France go to work as early as 7:00 and come home around 20:00 to 22:00 and sometimes as late as 5:00 to 7:00 in the morning. I think it depends on what type of business. Some businesses open late and close early, thatfs true.


    the importance of feelings over money in relationship => the Americans agreed that in the US, no matter how good or sincere a person was, money typically came as a determining factor in a relationship, because people had to be "winners" with ambitions and money. They said it was normal to ask someone you were dating "how much money do you earn ?", which is unthinkable in France. People in France tend to hide how much money they make. In France, someone with a nice car get it scratched by envious people who think they'd deserve it too. Contrarily to the USA, people who succeed are much more respected.

    Yes, thatfs why they donft really buy big cars to show off like the Americans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty
    I donft think French people have such bad reputation abroad, maybe just to other Western countries?
    That's probably more in Europe and North America. They repeated many times that France tends to have a very good reputation as a country, and was still seen as a model for many things (lifestyle, fashion, food, romance...). But most Europeans/Americans will have heard the saying "France is such a beautiful country; the problem is French people". They mentioned that a few times in the debate on French TV (at least they are aware of it ). Yet, many of the foreigners living in France said that they liked the friendly atmosphere outside Paris, like chatting with the butcher or cheese seller or other customers, or the farmer that would help them when they are lost or their car has broken down. One thing to remember is that you will also be treated better and have a more enjoyable experience if you can speak some French. I think that it true for most country about speaking the local language.

    Maybe, the French joke about that this is the reason why there can never be a gHitlerh in France.
    Indeed. And that is why democarcy works better in France than in many other countries. Strikes (esp. public transports) were often mentioned among the negative things about France. But strikes and demonstrations against the government whenever the population disagrees with a new law (still happened 2 days ago ) is what, IMHO, one of the prerequisite to true democracy. That is the voice of the people. The French still haven't forgotten their revolutions, and will let their rulers know that they can still topple them if they don't do a good job.


    I am not so sure about this. I know for a fact many of the CEOs of companies in France go to work as early as 7:00 and come home around 20:00 to 22:00 and sometimes as late as 5:00 to 7:00 in the morning. I think it depends on what type of business. Some businesses open late and close early, thatfs true.
    It doesn't really depends on the type of business, but more on the responsibility level of the person. Self-employed people and company managers tend indeed to make much longer hours than average. However, in the public administration or regular shops, the working hours are quite restricted.

    Yes, thatfs why they donft really buy big cars to show off like the Americans.
    It depends what you call "big car". Here, a BMW or Mercedes Benz is considered fairly "normal". I was talking more about luxury sports car like Ferrari (which easily cost 10x the price of a BMW) or the even dearer Bentley or Rolls Royce (or long limousines in the US). You hardly ever see such cars in France or Belgium (but you do in the UK, Japan and especially US).

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    It doesn't really depends on the type of business, but more on the responsibility level of the person. Self-employed people and company managers tend indeed to make much longer hours than average. However, in the public administration or regular shops, the working hours are quite restricted.

    Yes you made a good point that the level of responsibilities of individuals do make a difference in the number of hours they work. But I believe the type of business or job also influenced the employer/employeefs working hours. Like you said in the public administration or regular shops the working hours are indeed quite restricted.


    It depends what you call "big car". Here, a BMW or Mercedes Benz is considered fairly "normal". I was talking more about luxury sports car like Ferrari (which easily cost 10x the price of a BMW) or the even dearer Bentley or Rolls Royce (or long limousines in the US). You hardly ever see such cars in France or Belgium (but you do in the UK, Japan and especially US).

    Hmmm No, I donft really see Bentley or Rolls-Royce here thatfs true but even with BMW and Benz are not so common in France. I notice the people who drive BMW are usually diplomats; with Benz it really is not so common in France, unless you want to count "Smart" by Mercedes Benz which I tend to see those more often on the road rather than Mercedes Benz. Most French have cars that have short bottoms, and the cars are quite small and they are usually French cars like Peugeot or Renault. Some Italian and Spanish cars are also seen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty
    Hmmm No, I donft really see Bentley or Rolls-Royce here thatfs true but even with BMW and Benz are not so common in France. I notice the people who drive BMW are usually diplomats; with Benz it really is not so common in France, unless you want to count "Smart" by Mercedes Benz which I tend to see those more often on the road rather than Mercedes Benz. Most French have cars that have short bottoms, and the cars are quite small and they are usually French cars like Peugeot or Renault. Some Italian and Spanish cars are also seen.
    Look, I have lived most of my life near the border of France, I see cars immatriculated in France (recognisable from the plate) everyday, and I can tell you that BMW and Mercedes (or even Audi) are quite common, and certainly more common than Italian, British or American cars. In Belgium it's impossible to walk 5min in a city/town or drive 5min on the motorway without seeing several (big) BMW, Audi and Mercedes. These are "ordinary" cars, unlike Bentley's or Ferrari's, which are seen once a year or so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    2) pretentious/arrogant/chauvinist (about their country and culture) => especially Parisians. Many people tend to confuse Parisians for all French people. However, even the French themselves agree that Parisians are much more arrogant and unpleasant than average. Unfortunately, most visitors to France get their first (or only) impression of France in Paris.
    Maciamo, like you I traveled quite a bit. I agree that Parisians are more pretentious and chauvinistic than the rest of France. But with regard to other countries, the impression that the French are worse on that front is mostly due to a "first impression"; other cultures for instance (brits and Americans) will put more smiles and nice forms to it, but if you discuss deeply with an American or a Brit you will very quickly come to face with a firm belief that (as Americans put it) "America is the greatest country on Earth".
    Same thing with the dutch, spaniards, Italians and Germans.

    I once had a conversation with a nice British lady. the convo then fell on Johan of Arc; Within seconds, the Union Jack was brandished up and high and I thought she would burn me to the stake right there!!!
    "This delusional slut!!" she went....

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    Quote Originally Posted by bertrand View Post
    Maciamo, like you I traveled quite a bit. I agree that Parisians are more pretentious and chauvinistic than the rest of France. But with regard to other countries, the impression that the French are worse on that front is mostly due to a "first impression"; other cultures for instance (brits and Americans) will put more smiles and nice forms to it, but if you discuss deeply with an American or a Brit you will very quickly come to face with a firm belief that (as Americans put it) "America is the greatest country on Earth".
    Same thing with the dutch, spaniards, Italians and Germans.

    I once had a conversation with a nice British lady. the convo then fell on Johan of Arc; Within seconds, the Union Jack was brandished up and high and I thought she would burn me to the stake right there!!!
    "This delusional slut!!" she went....
    Eheh, Italy the greatest country on Earth as firm belief? Good joke! =D xD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riccardo View Post
    Eheh, Italy the greatest country on Earth as firm belief? Good joke! =D xD
    Ricardo,
    During the final of the world cup 2006 (France - Italy) I was on an italian cruse ship in the Mediteranean.
    So I watched and cheered my team (France) alone with my wife in the middle of thousands of Italians. I can tell you, Italians are quite chauvinistic when it comes to their team. When Zidane head quicked the Italian, I thought they would throw me overboard.

    Also dont talk to an Italian about Mona Lisa because as a frenchman you might be treated just short of a thief...

    I guess in a sense every country wants to be respected; if one country starts to believe that someone else is trying to take over, the locals will draw the claws; the question is how deep is that chauvinism and under pressure how hard will you fight to defend your way of life....

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    Quote Originally Posted by bertrand View Post
    Ricardo,
    During the final of the world cup 2006 (France - Italy) I was on an italian cruse ship in the Mediteranean.
    So I watched and cheered my team (France) alone with my wife in the middle of thousands of Italians. I can tell you, Italians are quite chauvinistic when it comes to their team. When Zidane head quicked the Italian, I thought they would throw me overboard.

    Also dont talk to an Italian about Mona Lisa because as a frenchman you might be treated just short of a thief...

    I guess in a sense every country wants to be respected; if one country starts to believe that someone else is trying to take over, the locals will draw the claws; the question is how deep is that chauvinism and under pressure how hard will you fight to defend your way of life....
    Riccardo*
    You made a typical Spanish mistake, they use to call me Ricardo. xD
    Anyhow, if we're talking about football ok, you're right, and add that there's a BIG rivalry beetween Italy and France. But it's really rare to find a chauvinist Italian! The most of us think that Italy is full of problems and Italians are full defects, on the contrary of many people that I heard from other countries.

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    Look, I have lived most of my life near the border of France, I see cars immatriculated in France (recognisable from the plate) everyday, and I can tell you that BMW and Mercedes (or even Audi) are quite common, and certainly more common than Italian, British or American cars. In Belgium it's impossible to walk 5min in a city/town or drive 5min on the motorway without seeing several (big) BMW, Audi and Mercedes. These are "ordinary" cars, unlike Bentley's or Ferrari's, which are seen once a year or so.
    I see, but I am married to a Frenchman who has lived all of his life in France. Unless there are differences of the types of cars on the road between the section of France you live close to and the section of France we live in, I donft know how else to explain our different point of views.

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    I feel equally much amused and embarrassed to see how many of 'stereotypes' apply to me - even though my French blood is a relatively small amount (or in the words of my mother "like putting sodium into water" ). But I find myself very much identifying with.........


    argumentative and raleur... not afraid to say what they thought, even if it led them into trouble.
    Argumentative is my middle name. Maybe it doesn't strike people that way on the internet, because in writing I can make a good effort but in real life - whew!

    irrespectous of rules and laws => they mentioned that when a new law passed, an average French would determine him/herself whether it was reasonable enough to respect it.
    not ashamed to talk openly about it [sex], or to display nudity at any time of the day
    Ummmmmmmmm... yeah. Me.

    when you want to make a business phone call... you shouldn't do it before 9:30 to 10am as they only get started with their day and may be a bit grumpy or disorganised
    Hell, my whole working time is spent being grumpy or disorganised... no, both! And heaven help those who call first thing in the morning...

    the importance of feelings over money in relationship
    But I think a lot of people agree on that, yes? I certainly hope so! (unless that is why I am single... )

    Strangely, I find Paris to be very friendly compared with the UK (especially London); I found people willing to easily start a relaxed conversation in some bar or other, in a very friendly way and to include you into their circle of friends, which was nice ^^... in the UK by contrast, I find people more reserved in these circumstances... especially in a bar, they will think you're trying to pick them up, or else they will be trying to pick you up... there is less of a how I say 'sense of cameraderie' and a more threatening feeling overall.

    But generalisations / stereotypes, although interesting to discuss are of limited value anyway... there are always people who don't fit the stereotype... and then people like me who fit the wrong stereotype!

    Some of the things, like the working hours thing, are becoming IMO a bit old-fashioned... sure there is still truth in it, but as someone pointed out, things like non-late working depend on the company / business, and how senior the person is; some people will do it, or professional people have to do it.

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    That was an interesting post. You have me interested in the french culture now. A few stereotypes of Frenchmen apply to me. I am very argumentive, and I don't like recieving gifts that cost more money. Wouldn't you rather have someone put their feelings into a gift rather then get an expensive piece of technology? The expensive item is good too, but I'd rather have something that someone put thought into. Not a sleek new iPod, but maybe a book the person thought I would like.

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