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Top 10 French stereotypes

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

Which of the plethora of French clichés, such as being lazy, hairy, and unclean, while trendy and attractive, is accurate?

It's possible that out of all the many nations on the globe, the people of France is the one that suffers from stereotypes the most. Although some of them are caricatures — for example, French men do not often dress in a manner reminiscent of mimes — many of the others are stereotypes for a specific reason. Let's examine some of the most absurd accusations made about the French. But you must also admit which of them are not embellished.

1. Striped shirts and berets are common in France: FALSE

No, the French do not dress in the manner of glorified mimes, just as Americans do not dress in the manner of cowboys. Naturally, some people will be wearing berets; these will most likely be ladies, and their chestnut hair will flow out of a skillfully positioned (and typically crooked) couvre-chef. Berets are also the preferred headwear of the generation that came of age after the war. Old-timers may still be seen sipping their pastis at the neighborhood Bistrot while donning the iconic French hat to conceal their thinning hair and safeguard their dignity.

Regarding the striped shirt, nautical fashion is regarded as a very high class in France, a nation with a long and illustrious history in the navy. When Coco Chanel debuted the design of the marinière in her nautical collection in 1917, she immediately established it as a hallmark of French haute couture. Today, the striped shirt is still uncomplicated, dignified, and classy when it is complemented with an eye-catching scarf, and it is worn with slim jeans or black trousers that have been fitted.

2. French people are dirty: FALSE

We have our fellow Americans to thank for perpetuating the negative notion that individuals from France are stinky and filthy. After World War II, when the United States troops conquered France, the French plumbing system was not yet up to pace; thus, taking daily showers was not an option. Most French people were obliged to utilize public baths for personal hygiene.

Since that time, however, restrooms in France have been brought up to current standards, and French people's cleanliness practices have followed suit. The French are far more hygienic than their British equivalents. We discovered via a poll that was done in 2015 that 57% of them take daily showers, but just 20% of the Brits do.

It is difficult to dispel the notion that French women do not shave, another false cliché about cleanliness associated with the French. France's trend known as "au naturel" hasn't taken off. Research conducted in 2006 found that 83 percent of women shave their legs, 73 percent shave their armpits, and 54 percent shave their bikini line.

3. French citizens are rude: VERY TRUE

There are occasions when there is logic to your reputation. If you want to know for sure if the stereotype is accurate, all you have to do is go to Paris, sit on the outside terrace of a cafe, and attempt to communicate with a French waiter.

But if we're being really honest, the French aren't so impolite as they are forthright, and they certainly don't have time to spend on nonsense, particularly in Paris. There is a good chance that the stereotype is also based on French humor: if a French person likes you, they will teasingly mock you, and they anticipate the same kind of friendly jabs from you in return. However, none of this should serve as a reason for you to give up. The French are known for their wit, charm, and unwavering commitment to their companions.

4. French people eat many baguettes: TRUE

You won't have any problem locating bakeries, or boulangeries, in France, where you may indulge in this fundamental component of that country's cuisine. More than 17 million people in the nation purchase their chewy-crust bread every day from one of France's 35,000 bakeries, living up to the country's reputation as the bread capital of the world. They also stock up on their unrivaled buttery, flaky croissants and various other types of pastries at that location.

You may find baguettes on most breakfast, lunch, and dining room tables, as well as in baskets at restaurants, and they serve as the scrumptious cradle for most French sandwiches. Parents sometimes feed their teething infants the crispy end of a piece of bread, and a popular treat for kids after school is a baguette spread with butter or Nutella.

5. The French are chimney-smokers: TRUE

The French government's attempts to limit the unhealthy behaviors of its people by increasing fees and banning smoking in public places have only partially borne fruit so far. The percentage of male adults who smoked decreased from 40% in 2001 to 35% in 2016. It would seem that smoking is going the way of the dodo since younger people engage in it far less than their parents.

6. A lot of French people drink wine: TRUE

It should be no surprise that the French consume a significant amount of wine throughout the day, including at lunch, supper, and in the evening after the children have been sent to bed. Their wine consumption makes up more than half of their total alcohol intake. On the other hand, the French drinking culture is more about moderation and enjoyment, keeping their gourmet outlook on life. It seems that the youth's laissez-faire attitude normalizes their view of alcohol, resulting in fewer problems with binge drinking than in Anglo-Saxon nations.

Despite this, the French remains one of the largest users of alcohol in the world, ranking sixth among all countries. In point of fact, alcoholism is fairly common and often accompanied by a host of other medical problems such as cirrhosis and liver failure. It is believed that more than 10 million individuals in France have excessive drinking habits. In addition, drunk drivers are to blame for around half of all accidents that occur on the roads; this is a serious problem that any number of public awareness programs cannot solve.

7. Cheese is a common food in France: TRUE

You probably would, wouldn't you? Because even the tiniest convenience shops provide such a wide variety of delectable regional cheeses, none of us would be sensible if we refrained from indulging in them. Brie, Camembert, Compté, and Emmental are only a few of the cheeses that are routinely provided at meals, even in the school cafeteria. Other cheeses, like Compté and Emmental, have a fruitier flavor. The real wonders, however, may be found in the more local specialties, such as the spicy Epoisses, the dry Picodon, or the creamy St. Marcellin.

The French are the most avid eaters of cheese in the world; on average, each French individual consumes 30 kilograms of cheese in a single year. We are willing to bet that most of these are used to make wintertime favorites such as raclettes, tartiflette, and fondues.

8. The French are a cowardly country: FALSE

The fact that the French army capitulated to the Nazis in World War II after just 46 days of resistance is a sad reminder of this negative perception of the French. France did not throw in the towel because they were unwilling to engage in battle; rather, they did so because they were unprepared for the conflict and massively outnumbered.

This image was solidified even further when the nation refused to join coalition troops during the invasion of Iraq in 2002, earning the French some colorful nicknames such as "Cheese-eating surrender monkeys." Since then, that chapter of history has been rewritten, but attitudes take a long time to change, and it is difficult to overcome a poor reputation.

A reenactement of the Bataille d’Austerlitz

The French army is regarded as the sixth most powerful force in the world and the first army in Europe, thanks to its budget of 50 billion euros. However, its greatest famous victories may be found in the annals of history, ranging from the Hundred Year War to the Napoleonic Wars. As a result of the French Revolution, the nation is also well-known for the bravery of its residents, who helped pave the way for the liberation of a significant portion of the globe from the constraints of monarchy.

9. Laziness is common in the French: FALSE

Many reasons support the generalization that French people adhere to the stereotype of being lethargic. Just to name a few examples:

It would seem like they are continuously on strike.

The typical length of a workweek in France is 35 hours.

They get an excessive number of paid days off yearly, a benefit.

They give the impression that they spend their days lounging about on outdoor café terraces, smoking cigarettes, or eating cheese and baguettes while drinking wine.

The French cultural imperative of joie de vivre should not be confused with laziness. Even though the law only requires 35 hours of labor per week, most workers in France put in 40, which is just one hour less than the average throughout Europe, which is 41. In addition, it has been demonstrated that reducing their working hours has had the counterproductive consequence of increasing the work pressure placed on the workforce in France rather than encouraging rising employment rates. It is now expected of French employees that they would maintain the same level of output and quality while working fewer hours. According to some estimates, France is the sixth most productive country globally.

However, they always strike, and you are permitted to find it incredibly aggravating since other people feel the same way.

10. The French are famously passionate lovers: TRUE



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