5 Common Stereotypes Faced by French Expats


We recently provided Lost in the Pond with a guest post entitled 5 of the Most Common Stereotypes faced by British Expats and it proved pretty popular with our readers. In fact it was so popular that we decided to explore the stereotypes expats from other nations have to face.

So far we’ve examined American stereotypes and Canadian stereotypes.

Today we’ll be looking at the most common stereotypes applied to expatriated citizens of France!

1) Berets, striped tops, garlic bulb necklaces and wicker baskets of baguettes are essential French fashion must-haves

Although Paris is considered by many to be the fashion capital of the world, and the chic style of French men and women is often commented on, when it comes to dressing up like or depicting a Frenchman/woman you can guarantee the involvement of a jaunty beret, a festive string of garlic bulbs, an unflattering horizontally stripped top, a thin swirly moustache and more baguettes than you can shake a stick of bread at. This image of the French might be iconic, but it’s also entirely inaccurate. If you were to walk from one end of France to the other there’d be more chance of you meeting a unicorn than stumbling across a Frenchman who actually dressed this way.

2) French women prefer to be ‘Au Naturel’

One of the most popular stereotypes of French women is that they don’t shave. According to some sources this dates back to the experience of American GI’s while they were stationed in France following the Second World War. A time when, some could argue, shaving wasn’t the highest priority. Now, while I’m sure that there are some French women who still like to keep things fuzzy and appreciate the warmth/braiding possibilities that body hair provides, the same could be said of woman from around the world. The vast majority of contemporary French women are no hairier than their British, American or Australian counterparts.

3) The French all Smoke and Drink Wine from the Age of 10

First and foremost, the French do not become chain-smoking alcoholics as pre-teens. While smoking in France is still quite popular (as it is in many European nations) an increasingly large proportion of the population don’t smoke. Furthermore, in recent years laws have been introduced limiting where and when people can indulge their smoky habit.

The second part of this stereotype, on the other hand, does have some truth in it. The French are rightly proud of their wine producing capabilities and enjoy drinking their wares, but the attitude toward drink is far more restrained than in other European countries. In France people rarely drink to get drunk, but drink for the sheer enjoyment of it and to enhance the flavour of food. To that end many French families will allow children to sample wine with their evening meal from the age of about 12. You might not agree with that, but you can’t argue with the fact that France has comparatively few issues associated with underage drinking.

4) The French are Food Snobs Suffering From Concerning Obsessions with Cheese

If your definition of a ‘food snob’ is someone who takes an interest in the quality, locality and sustainability of the ingredients which go into making their food, then yes, many French people are food snobs. But if the UK horse-meat scandal has taught us anything it’s that taking an active interest in what you eat and where it’s come from shouldn’t be viewed neigh-gatively. That doesn’t mean to say that the French never eat convenience or ‘junk’ food though. Some members of the population may even have a cheese obsession solely focused on the rubbery kind in a Big Mac.

5) The French are Rude

Perhaps one of the most common stereotypes applied to the French is that they are rude and pretentious, but few people who have actually been to France and spent time with French people can understand why the stereotype originated.

However, a common explanation for the concept of the ‘rudeness of the French’ is that cultural differences have been misconstrued and that words/actions which would be deemed perfectly polite by the French themselves appear rude to a foreigner.

Something else you should bear in mind if you ever feel like a victim of ‘French rudeness’ is that some people, regardless of their nationality, are just plain rude. And such people (the kind that are so rude they make you want to sneeze on their muffin) can sadly be encountered around the world.

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