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Thread: The Dark Side of France

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    1 out of 2 members found this post helpful.

    Thumbs down The Dark Side of France



    The French government would like tourists to believe that France is at the forefront of modern technology, the land of TGV, Airbus and the Ariane space programme (although the latter two are European rather than French). But the truth is that France still lags behind in many respect, especially from a legal or political point of view.

    France is the only Western European country with a compulsory identity cards system that does not yet have electronic ID cards. In comparison, neighbouring Belgium introduced electronic ID cards in 2002 and nowadays there are even electronic ID cards for kids and for foreign residents. Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Estonia, and even Romania all have electronic ID cards. France doesn't.

    I have explained before how inefficient the French post and banking service were. Additionally, France is one of the last countries in Europe where cheques are still one of the main forms of payments (about 30% of all transactions). Only Malta and Cyprus use cheques more frequently. The use of debit and credit cards in France is one of the lowest in the developed world. It feels like the French don't trust technology and like to stick to the old paper.

    France is the only developed country where paternity tests (so practically any kind of DNA test) are prohibited by law. If you order a paternity test via the Internet or by telephone in France, not only the shipment may be confiscated by the customs but you risk a year in prison and a fine of € 15,000 (Article 226-28 of the Penal Code). (source) I consider that as a serious Human Rights infringement. Read more.

    I don't watch much TV but when I do it is often French TV, and I am appalled almost every time that programmes never start on time. I am not complaining about a few minutes here. Some programmes start 15-20 minutes late, and occasionally they even start 10-15 minutes early, which is even more annoying. In the digital age how can they still manage their timetables so poorly ? Unfortunately this is a reflection of French society as a whole. The French are almost never on time for anything. It's a problem as endemic as in southern Italy.

    If you drive around Western Europe one thing you will notice immediately is the contrast between the old age and poor condition of the average French car on the road compared to those in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain, and in fact practically anywhere where the GDP per capita is supposedly similar. The reason is that the French government is not strict enough regarding vehicle inspection. Half of the cars in the French countryside would be prohibited to drive in Germanic countries.

    This Latin laissez-aller attitude is found at many other levels of French society. The antiquated French education system has been blamed recently by a BBC journalist for the pervading gloomy mood in modern French society. One of the main issues in France today is that young people have too much freedom to choose whatever subject they want at university. Because education is free, many change their mind halfway through their studies or study to get two or even three degrees, then go to work in other (mostly English-speaking) countries where the work market is more flexible and better paid.

    So the French people end up paying for one of the world's most expensive tertiary education system, and a lot of this money never comes back into the system as brighter people leave France. Among those that remain, many will be unemployable anyway because they have useless degrees or too many degrees (= too expensive to employ), or both. If the French were a bit stricter on entrance exams, set higher fees, and encouraged people to study for degrees for which there is a real demand on the market, the French economy would be much healthier.

    French people live the longest in the EU, and yet they have the earliest retirement age (62 years old, against 65 to 67 in other countries). The French constantly oppose all kind of necessary reforms of the economic system, staging national strikes and massive demonstrations at the slightest inconvenience. That's why I wouldn't be surprised if France became the next Greece, and eventually led to the collapse of the Eurozone.

    7 years ago, I was already writing a thread Is France "the sick man of Europe" ? in reaction to an article by The Economist. Since then things have gone from bad to worse, and the incompetence and irresolution of President Hollande does not augur well for the years to come.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 14-07-13 at 09:11.
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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Right, they should understand that liberté is out of fashion already.

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    Every country has it's idiosyncrasies. The paternity test law is disturbing, however.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    I am amazed and dismayed that in the 21st century there could still be so little political will in France to pronounce foreign names and words properly. News anchors on French TV, be it public or private, national or international (like France 24), regularly butcher English words. To them, as to most French people as a result, the webiste LinkedIn in called "Lin-ke-din". They just read it as if it were a French word. Fortunately enough they don"t call Facebook "Fassbok". You have to give them credit for that (snigger).

    As I have mentioned before, no effort in made in France to get foreigners' names right, not even heads of state sometime (after 10 years in office and saying his name many times in a year, French newscasters still don't know that the g is silent in Turkish Prime Minister's name, Erdoğan). Actually the French usually get Russian and Arabic names right because they have their own system for romanising Cyrillic and Arabic script, so that Putin is written Poutine in French (luckily enough, as if they had to read it Putin it would mean 'whore' in French).

    It's interesting that on France 24, France's global equivalent of BBC World News, in the English version of the channel news presenters and guests alike almost never pronounce wrongly French names, as they are certainly briefed about it in advance, just to be sure nobody dares pronounce Champs-Élysées like an American tourist would. But it doesn't work the other way round. In the French version there is no one to advise them that the Chinese city of Hangzhou (pop. 8 million) is not pronounced "Anjou" like the French region.

    There are a few exceptions. The French do seem to make an effort to pronounce words and names of their fellow Romance speakers, be them Italian, Spanish or Portuguese. ARTE, a Franco-German TV channel, always pronounces German names right - but hey they are based in Alsace and half of the staff is German. Overall in fact, oddly enough, the French make more effort to pronounce German names correctly than English ones, as if they intentionally prevented themselves to speak English. Surely they haven't accepted yet, after 1000 years of struggling with the "Anglo-Saxons" (as the French oddly like to call English-speaking countries) that they have lost to Britain and its offshoots for the cultural domination of the world. That is surely, at least unconsciously, why the French manage to come up with such inanities as "Lin-ke-din".

    The French don't even try to get names right when it comes to "inferior countries", which is basically any country that is not descended from the Romans or Greeks in their eyes. Even Belgians are often derided because two thirds of them are not native French speakers (a fact that eludes a lot of Frenchies). The French like to make a point in calling Bruxelles "Bruksselle" even though the 'x' has always been pronounced 'ss' by French-speaking Belgians (they should know since the Middle Ages, especially since it is the most frequently mentioned European city in the media nowadays because of the EU). That's pure political propaganda, as if the French were trying to say "look we can and will pronounce your capital's name any way we want, even if that is not how you have always done it. We rule, you lose." That's just an example of why the French pass as arrogant and disrespectful, or just plain silly. Note that when I say "the French" it usually doesn't apply to annexed non-French people like the Alsatians, the French Flemings, the Bretons, the Basques, or the Corsicans. Having retained a culture and language of their own these people are usually more sensitive about these issues.

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    I've come across another piece of interesting French legislation that could be construed as a breach of Human Rights. There has been a lot of debate in French media this year regarding gay marriage and the rights of gay couples to adopt or conceive babies through sperm donors (for lesbians) or an egg donor + surrogate mother (for gays). It turns out that at the time being sperm donations are illegal in France for anybody who is not in a heterosexual relationship. This means that single mother and lesbians couples cannot be inseminated by sperm from a donor in French hospitals. That much could still be acceptable as single mothers and lesbians could very well go have an insemination in a neighbouring country or inseminate themselves at home with the sperm or a donor without passing through a clinic. But French law is much more pernicious. Sperm donations outside the official channel (i.e. CECOS centres) are prohibited for both sperm donors and prospective mothers and punishable by a 30,500€ fine and two years in jail ! (Loi sur la bioéthique n° 94-654 du 29 juillet 1994 - Art. L. 675)

    Additionally, French law does not allow any newborn baby not to have an official father. Any child born out of wedlock must have a designated "official" father. French law does not accept 'natural children'. This means that any woman who has a baby and is not in a proven heterosexual relationship or cannot provide a man who is willing to recognise a baby born from a sperm donation as his will potentially be regarded as having used illegal sperm donation and face imprisonment. Even a woman who has a one-night stand with a stranger and becomes pregnant could be in the same situation and be considered as having used illegal sperm donation (unless she finds the biological father and forces him to recognise the child, which may prove difficult).

    The bottom line is: in France women can be jailed for having babies out of wedlock or out of a proven heterosexual relationship, and men can also be imprisoned for donating sperms to a woman who wants a child. If that isn't an infringement of Human Rights then what is ?

    Other odd fact: in France if a child is born out of wedlock, the presumed father has to officially recognise the child within three days after the birth. However the father can recognise the child without the mother's consent or knowledge. The problem is that the paternity isn't always clear and several men can make the same claim. In that case the first man who went to recognise the child at the town hall will be the official father, even if he is not the biological father. Since paternity tests are illegal in France (and punishable by jail sentences), in real life any man can claim any unmarried mother's child. A homeless man could claim the paternity of a rich heiress's child is she isn't married, as long as he reaches the town hall first ! That may sound crazy but it is like that in France. If a man wrongfully claims a single mother's child as his own, only a French court can order a paternity test to invalidate his claim, a process that can be lengthy, tedious and costly.

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    Maciamo: Are these laws actually enforced? If so, I'm surprised that someone hasn't taken the French Government to the International Court of Justice. These laws infringe very basic human rights and should be condemned internationally. Merde!

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    Quote Originally Posted by toyomotor View Post
    Maciamo: Are these laws actually enforced? If so, I'm surprised that someone hasn't taken the French Government to the International Court of Justice. These laws infringe very basic human rights and should be condemned internationally. Merde!
    I'm sure it is coming soon, unless France is very lackluster in enforcing these laws and won't bother people.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate presence, and demonize the future.

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    At least France has compulsory ID cards. The Irish don't have them. They don't even have postcodes!

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    Quote Originally Posted by greyd View Post
    At least France has compulsory ID cards. The Irish don't have them. They don't even have postcodes!
    And your point is?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    I have explained before how inefficient the French post and banking service were. Additionally, France is one of the last countries in Europe where cheques are still one of the main forms of payments (about 30% of all transactions). Only Malta and Cyprus use cheques more frequently. The use of debit and credit cards in France is one of the lowest in the developed world. It feels like the French don't trust technology and like to stick to the old paper.
    I noticed that it was the French women who pay by cheques.
    The French men pay by credit card (perhaps because they have no handbag)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I've come across another piece of interesting French legislation that could be construed as a breach of Human Rights. There has been a lot of debate in French media this year regarding gay marriage and the rights of gay couples to adopt or conceive babies through sperm donors (for lesbians) or an egg donor + surrogate mother (for gays). It turns out that at the time being sperm donations are illegal in France for anybody who is not in a heterosexual relationship. This means that single mother and lesbians couples cannot be inseminated by sperm from a donor in French hospitals. That much could still be acceptable as single mothers and lesbians could very well go have an insemination in a neighbouring country or inseminate themselves at home with the sperm or a donor without passing through a clinic. But French law is much more pernicious. Sperm donations outside the official channel (i.e. CECOS centres) are prohibited for both sperm donors and prospective mothers and punishable by a 30,500€ fine and two years in jail ! (Loi sur la bioéthique n° 94-654 du 29 juillet 1994 - Art. L. 675)

    Additionally, French law does not allow any newborn baby not to have an official father. Any child born out of wedlock must have a designated "official" father. French law does not accept 'natural children'. This means that any woman who has a baby and is not in a proven heterosexual relationship or cannot provide a man who is willing to recognise a baby born from a sperm donation as his will potentially be regarded as having used illegal sperm donation and face imprisonment. Even a woman who has a one-night stand with a stranger and becomes pregnant could be in the same situation and be considered as having used illegal sperm donation (unless she finds the biological father and forces him to recognise the child, which may prove difficult).

    The bottom line is: in France women can be jailed for having babies out of wedlock or out of a proven heterosexual relationship, and men can also be imprisoned for donating sperms to a woman who wants a child. If that isn't an infringement of Human Rights then what is ?

    Other odd fact: in France if a child is born out of wedlock, the presumed father has to officially recognise the child within three days after the birth. However the father can recognise the child without the mother's consent or knowledge. The problem is that the paternity isn't always clear and several men can make the same claim. In that case the first man who went to recognise the child at the town hall will be the official father, even if he is not the biological father. Since paternity tests are illegal in France (and punishable by jail sentences), in real life any man can claim any unmarried mother's child. A homeless man could claim the paternity of a rich heiress's child is she isn't married, as long as he reaches the town hall first ! That may sound crazy but it is like that in France. If a man wrongfully claims a single mother's child as his own, only a French court can order a paternity test to invalidate his claim, a process that can be lengthy, tedious and costly.
    The general problem in France is the lack of personal freedom.
    We are in a system of "welfare state" where the state has to decide everything, even what is private.
    Many French are still communist (without knowing it)!

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    Quote Originally Posted by toyomotor View Post
    And your point is?
    Is it not obvious? That the French are not as technologically backward as some other European nations.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by greyd View Post
    Is it not obvious? That the French are not as technologically backward as some other European nations.
    This conversation wasn't about technology, but the passage of laws which cruelly infringe human rights. That a modern, educated country such as France could consider such legislation is anathema to modern western culture.

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    you say that because you are angry!

    I know we French we are big lazy two-day strike three ....
    After my family was savagely bombed Erentery (Gernika) by Italian and German plane and that with the silent complicity of English. t is true that if they take away English of, Churchill and Darwin I see nothing big.
    The French have welcomed and helped my family.
    Thank you for Renault vehicles and Bloch plane (Dassault), delivered to the Basque and Catalan and despite the prohibition of other European countries who were afraid of angering the good Mr. Hitler.
    France, I love you!


    Last edited by martiko; 20-02-14 at 02:32.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Actually, this is something of which I approve. I despise it when announcers on American TV try to adopt a Spanish (usually more Mexican) accent when pronouncing a name like Buenos Aires or Nicaragua. Personally, I would prefer that we simply use names adopted in English, instead of trying to call Madras Chennai or Peking Beijing. After all, I have never heard an American announcer try to get the tones in Beijing right, so it is still nonsense to a Chinese ear. Of course, I also never hear these people try to pronounce Paris as one would in French or Athens as one would in Greek. When I hear TV announcers talking about Magyarország and al-Misr instead of Hungary and Egypt, I suppose I might worry about trying to pronounce names as they are in the native languages. Incidentally, do you mean Bretons and Basques or Bretoned and Euskarak?

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    France was way better before

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    I have never get any chance to visit France but after hear that it is filled with the Jam packed attractions. I must say that Next If I get a chance then I visit it and noticed it the discussion is how far true.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by bonair View Post
    France was way better before
    Before the Neolithic or before the Triassic ? Try to be more specific.

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    I know some of these problems about France; I'm annoyed by it too. I've been there a few times actually. Apart from visiting a few interesting sights and exploring the French culture and learning it's history, it was a very disappointing experience; in terms of interacting with people. The French in general are miserable, pushy and aloof. You cannot enter France without not having someone there being suspicious of you; especially if they learn you are a tourist. And the most annoying thing of it all, is that they are prone to gossiping and spreading what little information about you to others. Almost like they are all a clan, and I'm "that American guy". Forget about admitting French ancestry or speaking French, they will always view you as "the outsider".

    I've found most of them to be cold, complicit and unreliable. I've been accused of doing several things there; when there was nothing to suggest that I was doing anything wrong or even had the evidence to back it up. Many people judged and got mad at me without getting a chance to know me. I noticed, more than other countries; the French are suspicious of people and human nature in general.

    I shouldn't be one to talk. But the country is a political mess; with people of all sides of the political spectrum. (left-wing, centrists, right-wingers). Even though they are bound by the French culture; the French people are often very distrustful of each other. Their strong-point is that they have a very strong and refined culture that brings them together, despite their differences. Their weak-point is that they seem totally lost, in terms of politics.

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    When I hear these negative comments I feel that I am living in a different world. I visited France 6 times (breaks and holidays) a couple of times hosted by locals, great food, good interactions with locals (and I don't even speak the language although my partner is fluent which Im sure it helps), there also a great ambiance with a 'French stamp' from Normandy to Marseilles and the Pyrenees to the German border. I never recall meeting all these disasters mentioned in this thread. Only great memories and beautiful pictures. Oh and the ATM machines worked too, and never paid by cheque

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maleth View Post
    When I hear these negative comments I feel that I am living in a different world. I visited France 6 times (breaks and holidays) a couple of times hosted by locals, great food, good interactions with locals (and I don't even speak the language although my partner is fluent which Im sure it helps), there also a great ambiance with a 'French stamp' from Normandy to Marseilles and the Pyrenees to the German border. I never recall meeting all these disasters mentioned in this thread. Only great memories and beautiful pictures. Oh and the ATM machines worked too, and never paid by cheque
    Sometimes the reason that people or businesses will prefer to be paid by cheque are high credit card charges. 2-3% of each payment goes to Visa and Mastercard.
    It is time to break this monopoly.

    I haven't been to France, but wherever I go I address locals with a smile and kindness. Almost all people will reciprocate the same way, regardless of culture and race.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I haven't been to France, but wherever I go I address locals with a smile and kindness. Almost all people will reciprocate the same way, regardless of culture and race.
    Indeed, attitude and respect is so important and you get the same in return. I was in Cauterets a very beautiful resort in Pyrenees, my partner was not with me and wanted to have a snack from an ordinary mobile van. The man quickly called his son to speak to me in English to see what I wanted. I also had a hot chocolate on top of Mount Chamonix.....and paid by visa card :). I really thought its not possible to have a connection on top of that mountain....but hey!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maleth View Post
    Indeed, attitude and respect is so important and you get the same in return. I was in Cauterets a very beautiful resort in Pyrenees, my partner was not with me and wanted to have a snack from an ordinary mobile van. The man quickly called his son to speak to me in English to see what I wanted. I also had a hot chocolate on top of Mount Chamonix.....and paid by visa card :). I really thought its not possible to have a connection on top of that mountain....but hey!
    Waiters and retail staff in Paris can be rude, but in my experience it's much less common outside of Paris. Unless you are a tourist from Canada or the U.S. with some French ancestry and you think of yourself as French - the French will set you straight about that very quickly. I've known more than one Canadian Francophone who complained about being told in France to speak English because their French was supposedly too poor to be understood by French people (even though that wasn't actually true).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    Waiters and retail staff in Paris can be rude, but in my experience it's much less common outside of Paris. Unless you are a tourist from Canada or the U.S. with some French ancestry and you think of yourself as French - the French will set you straight about that very quickly. I've known more than one Canadian Francophone who complained about being told in France to speak English because their French was supposedly too poor to be understood by French people (even though that wasn't actually true).
    To what I can gather Paris is even slightly alien to the General French people. Its perhaps the most cosmopolitan in the francophone sense. Personally I did not experience any rudeness, but that's maybe as I mentioned my partner spoke excellent French. If not i might have a different story to say. I have also been told that Quebecers speak a different accent, but then I would not know the difference as they sound both the same to me.

    The only time I can remember having a rude waitress was in a very remote Village we found by accident in the beautiful area of Loresse - Barousse. We asked what is the difference between two types of duck dishes (in French that is) that were on the menu and she kept saying. Cant you read French? she said it twice. It was funny in a way. But anyways this village (San Bertrand) was just like a movie set, so much charm and very old houses so well preserved it was a joy to be there. I found this kind of old world splendor all over France which I find fascinating and full of character. This maybe one of the reasons why year on year it has been the most visited country in the world. Defiantly a Bright side of France

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maleth View Post
    To what I can gather Paris is even slightly alien to the General French people. Its perhaps the most cosmopolitan in the francophone sense. Personally I did not experience any rudeness, but that's maybe as I mentioned my partner spoke excellent French. If not i might have a different story to say. I have also been told that Quebecers speak a different accent, but then I would not know the difference as they sound both the same to me.

    The only time I can remember having a rude waitress was in a very remote Village we found by accident in the beautiful area of Loresse - Barousse. We asked what is the difference between two types of duck dishes (in French that is) that were on the menu and she kept saying. Cant you read French? she said it twice. It was funny in a way. But anyways this village (San Bertrand) was just like a movie set, so much charm and very old houses so well preserved it was a joy to be there. I found this kind of old world splendor all over France which I find fascinating and full of character. This maybe one of the reasons why year on year it has been the most visited country in the world. Defiantly a Bright side of France
    The people in large metropolitan areas can often be more brusque than those from smaller, less stressful environments. That can be interpreted as rudeness. It's also true, however, that dealing with hordes of tourists, some of whom show scant appreciation for the host country, can result in some rude behavior from service personnel, but that can happen anywhere. However, as LeBrok and you have mentioned, in most countries, in most life situations, in fact, a smile and a respectful, friendly, attitude will usually elicit a positive response from the grumpiest person. Personally, I'm always touched by the "kindness of strangers", to quote Blanche DuBois.

    As to France in particular, I cross into France from my home base in Italy nearly every year, and I do find them a bit brusque at times, and more closed even than the famously "closed" Ligurians, especially as I head further north. They're also a very proud people, and while they have a great deal of which to be proud, it can sometimes seem a bit excessive. Not absolutely everything is better in France, and nor do others like to be reminded of it at every turn. All of that said, the worst experiences I've ever had as a traveler, business or otherwise, were never in France. The only bad encounter that stands out vividly in my mind, in fact, is from years and years ago when I was backpacking across France with a bunch of university friends. A railway clerk deliberately gave my friend wrong information (in English as that was the language she had used), and then turned to his colleague and in French said that it served the American ******* right. I blistered his ears in a jumble of Italian, English, and my schoolgirl French as well, I can tell you. I was spitting mad. That whole section of the terminal grew as quiet and still as a church during high Mass.


    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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