What are the stereotypes about the French?


Working as a real estate agent in France with international clients, I often get questions about the French, their character and their habits.
Property buyers often want to meet their neighbours, learn French and understand the French mentality better.

I would say that, in general, the French are not fond of speaking English.

However, if you don’t speak French it’s easier on the Côte d’Azur than in other parts of France. There are many foreigners living here. In some buildings more apartments are owned by foreigners than by the French.

English and Italian speakers in particular have no problems with communication. 

However, understanding the French mentality is very useful if you are planning on purchasing real estate in France.

So, what are the typical stereotypes about the French?

The French are gourmets” – this is true, indeed. The French love inviting people over for a delicious dinner and pick a different wine for each dish. A French woman from a comfortable family can usually cook really well, and will even make the desert herself from scratch, using her grandmother’s recipe. French men love talking about delicious dishes and wines during the meal, and can generally talk for hours about food. When travelling, the French will pack their Michelin guide and happily spend a lot of time looking for a Michelin-star restaurant in an unfamiliar place. Each region of France has its own special delicacy. All French people know that the freshest lobsters and crawfish are served in Brittany, and snails – in Burgundy; the most delicious chickens come from the small town of Bresse near Lyon, the foie gras and truffles are to be enjoyed in Périgord near Bordeaux, and the tastiest mussels with French fries are in the North of France close to the Belgian border. 

“The French are greedy” – it's the only  myth about the French which is not true. There is a possible historical explanation for French meanness: up until the 20th century France was predominantly an agrarian country. It is well known that country people can be lacking in generosity, as money is hard to come by for them.
However, in modern times, French household economy is more connected with the high tax burdens of a socialist country. People with low incomes have free high quality medical care, and receive all kinds of subsidies in France  while high-income people  pay high rates of tax.
I always feel like defending the French, who, in my opinion, are not mean by nature, but have to take care of their money.
When they have to pay 30-70% of their income to the state, they have to take budgeting seriously.

“The French love to grumble”. It's true. The French often complain, grumble, and criticize. Even on the French Riviera, paradise-land,  they manage to complain about the weather on a cloudy or rainy day. It is for this inability to appreciate what they have, and their eternal complaints the French are not loved even by the French themselves.

Some people think the French are egotists.

In my oppinion, the French are rather  helpful to other people.
If you have a problem, do not hesitate to ask the French for help.They love helping the weak.

In spite of being rather arrogant, they will happily share their experience and offer advice. So, the situation with immigrants in France (open for immigration) was not only the result of government policy but is also a reflection of the French character – protecting the weak and less fortunate.

The French are cultured intellectuals” who know the history of their country well and are interested in other cultures.
While travelling across Europe I have noticed that there are always many French people in museums, even in the most remote corners.

The French are good family men and fathers”. There are many divorces and blended families with children from previous marriages in France.
In my opinion, French men are very good at taking care of their own and others’ children, and at keeping good relations with their ex-wives. 

To sum up, if we are to believe the ancient Greek philosophers saying “we are what we eat”, then the excellent food, wines, air, and water in France created an amazing mix – the French character. You just need to find the right way to unlock it.

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