Ah, les Français! We’ve heard so much about them—and not all of it good. But is there any truth to these stereotypes about French people? Are they really as bad as everyone makes them out to be? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular (and ridiculous) myths about French people and debunk them once and for all.
5 Ugly Stereotypes About French People
1. French People are Snobs
The stereotype that all French people are snobs has been around for a long time. The idea here is that French people care more about looking sophisticated and refined than actually being friendly or helpful. But if you travel to France, you’ll quickly realize that this couldn’t be further from the truth! Sure, some people may come across as a bit snobbish, but for the most part, the French are warm and welcoming. They are also very proud of their culture and heritage and will happily share it with anyone who shows an interest in learning more about it.
2. French People are Always Striking
There is a stereotype about French people saying that they’re never happy with what they have and are always protesting the government… But why is it a bad thing? French people fight for their rights and they don’t let themselves be pushed around. The latest strikes are about “la réforme des retraites” (pension reform), that would increase the number of years that workers must pay into the system to get a full pension and abolish special pension rules that benefited workers in difficult sectors like energy and transportation.
3. French People Don’t Speak English
This one is simply not true! It’s not that they don’t speak English at all, it’s just that their skills may vary… While many young people in France do know how to speak English (thanks to mandatory language classes in school), it would be foolish to assume that everyone speaks English fluently. And most of the time, their French accent comes in the way. Let’s encourage them instead of making fun of them: they need to practice in order to get better.
4. French People Only Eat Fancy Food
It’s true that many traditional dishes in France can seem intimidatingly fancy—but don’t let that scare you away from trying them! In reality, many meals enjoyed by everyday families in France are far from extravagant and often include simple dishes like steak frites, croque-monsieur or rotisserie chicken. So don’t worry: if you travel to France, there will be plenty of delicious food for you to enjoy without having to break the bank!
5. All French People Smoke
Yes, it’s true that smoking is more accepted in France than in many other countries, but it doesn’t mean that ALL French people smoke. And keep in mind that the COVID crisis didn’t help… In 2021, according to the Santé publique in France, 31.9% of 18-75 year-olds reported smoking, a figure that is up from 2019. But only about 25 percent of adults in France are saying they smoke cigarettes daily.
While some stereotypes about French people may have a grain of truth behind them, most of them are exaggerated or simply false. The best way for anyone interested in learning more about French culture is to experience it firsthand by visiting France and talking with locals. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised at just how different things really are! Learn some French and go visit France, you won’t regret it.