Published on November 2nd, 2015 | by Magalie Lopez0
Long Live France
For an American in love with his country – which is perhaps redundant – hearing a French person speak of the United States by evoking New York and Hollywood is probably very annoying. It is reducing the 50 states, a total area of 9,857,000 km², into two cities just over 800 km² in all. It is reducing a population of 319,000,000 to 8,000,000. This means that Americans all must be either New York traders or actors who put their handprints on Hollywood Boulevard.
This is not funny, but that is what we, the French, whose nation is smaller than the state of Texas, experience when we see that for an average American our country is reduced to Paris and the French Riviera.
What about these “preconceived ideas” that we both have about each other?
I recently saw a video in which an American living in France shared with the French public how Americans see us. According to the American view, the little French man seldom bathes, walks next to his bike, wears a beret, carries a baguette under his arm, some « camembert » cheese in one hand and a bottle of red wine in the other and he has no more hands left to hold his bike or smoke his unfiltered cigarette.
Added to this idyllic picture of a French man is a whiny character, rude manners, and something which does not go at all with the rest, an effeminate style.
And this is supposed to create a portrait of an inveterate seducer and champion of love (in general).
So the French man is a little bit of all that… but never all accumulated in the same person… the poor thing, he would be very handicapped!
In terms of bicycles, you will run into more French men on their bicycle than beside it, but if they walk beside it, then it is simply because they are about to leave or to store their bicycle.
As for the beret, you really come across it only occasionally, worn by a bald, elderly man in a village deep in the heart of France. But even these gentlemen really prefer a plaid cap over the traditional black beret, by far.
Regarding the baguette under his arm, it is true that French bread (even though it is increasingly rare to find a good, authentic baguette) is an institution in our country, but we carry it in our hand.
However, if it is found under the arm, it is in order to have your hands free for carrying groceries or to close your jacket, but not to carry some « camembert » cheese… because the cheese is in the bag of groceries. We do not go walking around with a bottle of wine in hand either, except when we go to a party with friends and this happens only on the way from the car to the home of our hosts.
That said, our affection for (good) wine is not exaggerated!
As for whining, I cannot defend the French man as whining has become a national sport (even I, as a woman, sometimes practice the sport although I am trying to quit).
Concerning politeness, I have mixed feelings because I meet many polite French people and many impolite French people as well… However, as I prefer the former, I do not notice the latter. So I think rudeness exists in all countries to varying degrees.
After that, you tell me that French men are effeminate? Sure, they are not all covered in muscles, tattoos, and scars, and not all former soldiers marked by wars. They are elegant and delicate (sometimes) and this is perhaps what makes them seem effeminate to those across the Atlantic.
And finally we arrive at the final stereotype about French men, that they are seductive and champions of love (in all senses of the word, if I may say so). There, I will elect not to share my views on the subject, as my opinion is already decided and very personal. I prefer you form your opinion by yourselves!
In May of 1968, I do not know if women were as particular about this but in 2015, we shave. We shave, we wax our legs, bikini, underarms, eyebrows and for some, our beard and mustache.
It seems that the French are always elegant, made up and well-dressed… well there, it is seen from the outside… actually, we do get dressed up to go shopping or to go buy a loaf of bread… we dress and do our hair even just to get the mail. What for? You never know if you will bump into your neighbor. We do not want her (or him) to see us unkempt. This is undoubtedly due to our pride.
In any case, except for some (few) of us, the idea is not to be ready for physical love. Because, no, sorry if I disappoint some American men, but we are not addicted to sex. Although, when it’s well done (with love), we enjoy it, as all women do, but contrary to the lyrics of Michel Sardou, we do not walk around waving our underpants in the air!
To return to generalities, it seems that the French are small, weak, and cowards… I want to reply: “Thank you, how nice!” Go ahead and say that to the faces of all our veterans, that they are weak cowards! No really, go on, we will laugh! Even if you say that to a short French man, his response will be in proportion to his annoyance (and an angry French man is a force to be reckoned with)!
Concerning our height, it is true that there are fewer French people over two meters than Americans, but it is a question of proportionality; it is normal to find fewer giants in a population of 66 million than in 319 million.
About our size, it seems that the French are thin. Well, not all, and fewer and fewer of us. Perhaps it’s because we eat a lot of frogs and snails?
I will take one last shot at my compatriots to shorten the writing of this article: since French is lazy, I decided not to write any more, and go take a nap.
However, do not rejoice too soon, my next article will discuss the French clichés that we have about Americans. There are more than a few of them, but, in fact, I think it’s because deep down we love you.
Come on, I will give a kiss! Ah no, I forgot that you do not like that and I did not shave my beard this morning, or even brush my teeth. Let’s shake hands for hygiene’s sake… but hey, wash them afterwards, because you never know!