Love France… 11 French clichés
From eating frogs to kissing each other all the time, there are so many clichés about French people… Many of them are true, but only to a certain extent… Here is our cliché buster.
- French people drink wine with every meal
French wines are renowned worldwide and the majority of French people love wine, but of course, whether they drink wine with every meal really depends on everyone’s habits. Many French people will have one glass of wine with each meal – except when they’re at work. As a general rule, wine goes with a good meal, and depending on the food items on the table, the type of wine will be different – red with red meat and cheese, white with fish, and rosé when it’s too hot to drink red.
French people also love having apéritif, which consists in a glass of wine with nibbly bits, before starting their meal. (Read more on aperitifs here).
- French people love going on strike
French people often go on strike. For them, it is a way to protest against a new law (either it’s been voted or is about to be), a social injustice, or working conditions. Strikes are mainly seen by the French general public as a good thing, a way to improve everyone’s rights – although obviously less so if they become unruly.
Since the Revolution, French people have taken to the streets to fight for their rights, which has proved to be useful. “Mai 68” (as it happened it May 1968), one of the biggest strikes in France’s history and led to some major changes in France’s society as well as the resignation of the then-French President, Général De Gaulle.
- French people always talk about philosophy
All French people may not talk about philosophy, but it is a compulsory subject at school. For the “baccalauréat” (equivalent to A levels), all students have to study philosophy for one year and pass the exam at the end of it.
- French people all go on holiday in August
Most French people go on holiday between the 15th of July and the 15th of August, rather than just in August. At this time of year, France slows down (almost shuts down), with many offices, companies, shops and doctors’ closing down. Between these dates, holiday accommodation prices go up and it is recommended to book a long time ahead if you want to holiday during that time. (Read more about French summer and Holidays in France).
- French people are good lovers
French is the language of love and French people have a reputation of being romantic worldwide. The flirting process in France is a true game of seduction, and women like playing hard to get while men can be very tenacious… As for the good lovers bit, there has to be a reason for this reputation!
- French people eat frogs and snails
French people do eat snails and frogs, but it is not a common meal anymore. Those two dishes take a while to prepare, and are now mostly eaten in restaurants. While frog legs are only eaten with a garlic mix, there are many different ways to eat snails (“escargots”) according to regions. For example, “escargots à la bordelaise” will be cooked with red wine.
- French people put garlic in everything
Garlic is an ingredient that French people don’t actually use that much! – although there are several traditional dishes that contain garlic… like snails and frogs! In these two recipes, the garlic is mixed with butter and parsley and put on the “meat” – this mixture is also used in other dishes, like grilled steak for example.
- French people drink their hot drinks out of bowls
It’s fifty-fifty – French people also drink out of mugs. However, drinking out of bowl enables them to dip their croissant and baguette with butter more easily into their coffee… and that’s something they do a lot! (Read more on weird things French people do with their bread).
- French people are all well-dressed or wear only striped t-shirts and berets
France is famous for its haute-couture, and Parisian women are reputed to be very elegant and chic. As for the berets, only very old men living in the countryside seem to wear them – this is an old cliché. Striped t-shirts aren’t worn that much either, although a few years ago it became the symbol of the “made in France” when the French politician Arnaud Montebourg had pictures taken of him wearing a “mariniere” (the official name for this type of shirt) to promote products made by the French industry.
- French shops close on a Sunday and for lunch
Although this is becoming less and less true with big companies, many shops close on Sunday and for lunch. Except in big cities, 7/7, 24/24 shops don’t exist in France. French people don’t really mind that as they are used to it and as they see it as a right for everyone to have at least a day off in their week – and lunchtime is an important time that everyone is entitled to enjoy too.
- French people all kiss each other all the time
French people kiss each other a lot, but not everyone. There is a whole etiquette around “bisous”. To make it short, they kiss only friends and family, and unless men are very close, they won’t kiss each other. People tend not to kiss their boss or people they don’t really know. The number of kisses they do also depends on the region. It can be tricky, but we have a full Bise lowdown here if you want 🙂