9 Popular Stereotypes About The French That Are Actually Not True

Think you know the French? Think again. National stereotypes abound for all countries, but none seem to be quite as popular as the French ones. According to popular stereotypes, the French are pretentious, they stink and they never speak English – even if they’re totally fluent.

But are these stereotypes really true or is there actually more to the French than Pepe Le Pew, frogs and snails? To find out, let’s take a look at 9 popular stereotypes about the French that are actually not true.

Myth 1. French People Have Bad Odour

We have no idea where this stereotype came from, but it’s a rather unfortunate one! After all, if you were told that you were a nation of stinkies, wouldn’t you be rather offended? Naturally, France could have no defence if they were a nation of stinkies, but they aren’t! The truth is that French folk don’t smell any worse than anyone else, and moreover they are also home to lots and lots of amazing perfume. Would a nation that gave the world Chanel really be so stinky?! Nope.

Myth 2. French Women Don’t Shave

French women are amazingly beautiful, super trendy and chic. Moreover, they perfected the short hair cut back in the sixties during the French new-wave cinema boom. And because they care so much about looking gorgeous, they also shave as much, as women from any other part of the world. Again, we’re not sure who started this rumour but we’re thinking someone saw a French soft core erotic film from the 70’s and decided all French women must look like that.

Myth 3. The French Refuse To Speak English – Even If They’re Fluent

Come on, speak English.

– Non.

– Please!

– Non. Je refuse.

– I know you want to!

– Ma bouche est fermée!!

Yup, apparently the French just won’t speak English, as though they’re a nation out to spite America. But this just isn’t true, and if the French can speak English to help you out, they will do. They just don’t generally like speaking it in front of a large audience, because they’re a little unsure of themselves and their accent. Bless ‘em.

Myth 4. The French Are Lazy Workers

Sure, the French get more vacation time than anyone else, but surely this is a good thing?! These days, Americans work more hours than ever and consequently have a bone to pick with their French cousins, who would seem to have it easy. Rather than say: “I want as much time off as the French!”, some people tend to say: “The French are lazy!”

But rather than treat their employees like machines, the French decided to give their workers more rest time in order to allow them the chance to recharge their batteries and actually enjoy their lives! Heaven forbid!

Maybe this is why the French have more joie de vivre than the rest of us.

Myth 5. The French Love To Surrender!

The French got a bad reputation for surrendering during the last world war; but is a nation who conquered most of Europe under Napoleon’s leadership really a nation of surrender monkeys? We beg to differ!

Instead, the French love a good scrap just as much as the next nation, and for further evidence may we remind you of The Hundred Years War, a scrap to end all scraps that was fought valiantly between England and France between the years of 1337 and 1453.

Come on, if the French love to surrender, they would have given up after 75 years or less.

Myth 6. The French Only Eat Frogs and Snails

This stereotype is about as accurate, as the stereotype that Chinese eat dogs all the time. Sure, the French are famous for their frogs and snails, and, yes, you’ll find Parisian restaurants that sell these delicacies; but it’s simply absurd to believe that this is the only thing they eat.

Indeed, frogs and snails are touristy things more than anything else, and the locals actually don’t eat that much of them. If you spent a week eating dinner with a French family, you will soon realise that their eating habits are the same as yours.

Myth 7. The French Are Rude

Ever spent a week in Paris? Bet you encountered a few rude people right?

Of course you did! But if you spend a week in any city you’ll come across a handful of rude people. The truth is that these rude people are not representative of the great majority, and the French are actually rather charming, helpful and even generous. Furthermore, Paris is one of the busiest cities in the world, so you can expect to hear a few “va te faire foutre’s”.


Myth 8. The French Are Snobs When It Comes To Food

Everyone knows that the French love their food. From cheese to beef bourguignon, flamiche to pigs trotters, the French know a thing or two about delicious, culinary treats. As a result of this, certain naysayers have accused the French of pretentiously turning their noses up at a greasy burger or a bacon sarnie. The reality, though, is that Paris is just as deluged with fast food restaurants as any other city.

Myth 9. The French Women Dress Like Models

The rumour is that if you walk around Paris in your slacks, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb and will hide in shame when you realise that you’re weaving in and out of an army of fashionistas. You could head into McDonald’s for a safe retreat, but if the rumours are true, you’ll be greeted by another army of fashionistas who are trying not to get mayo on their DKNY handbag.

This myth was probably promoted by the French new-wave movies from the sixties, were the girls dressed very chic and stylish. Of course, the French do have great fashion sense, but they certainly don’t all dress like models. Many of them buy their clothes from high street stores, such as H&M or Zara.

Do you know other stereotypes about the French?

Stay happy!

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