Personal Thoughts, Selected Photos, and Culture Revelations shared by Odile

La France: Truth or Myth?


Hey WordPress Readers!

I’m hoping that this post will hopefully enlighten those who are inspired to visit or..to re-visit France for a longer period.

1. French toilets are erroneous

…TRUTH! Public restrooms are usually unsanitary, however, there are quite a few which are decent.

If you are in Paris and are in need of a toilet badly, try to find the nearest shopping mall or hotel that will accept you to use their service. Nowadays Paris has become pretty money-minded due to all the tourism; it charges for public toilets. I swear, there is such a thing as ‘French tourism toilet income’, and it’s no guarantee that the priced ones are ‘clean’.

Good luck! SIT AT YOUR OWN RISK :D

2. The French are absolutely rude

MYTH! This has got to be the biggest/most common stereotype about the French (at least from my conversations with Americans). They are not rude. Sure, they may come off slightly reserved at first, but it’s just a matter of you making the first ‘leap of faith’.

It will most certainly take courage but it will be worth the 10 seconds you’ll spend introducing yourself and starting the journey of a new friendship.

In my opinion, the French are not like a majority of Californians who will suddenly jump at you trying to get to know you, and then that will be the first and last time you’ll ever see them.

The French are strong in the area of Friendship Bonding. It takes time and patience, but definitely rewarding.

3. Be fluent in French before visiting the country

MYTH! You don’t need to have spent 5 years of your life learning French..to only let yourself travel there. Wouldn’t that be too strict with yourself? I suggest people who go there to buy a petit livre of conversational French on your trip.

In order to avoid making a bad impression to the French, begin the conversation with a few French words. Don’t worry about your mistakes. Show that you are putting an effort in speaking the foreign language instead of ‘Hello. I come from *name of country*’

See my point?

4. They hate Americans

MYTH! haha, you may breathe now!

French don’t hate Americans, however, they do have a ‘low view’ on them ..in general..and I agree with the French.

I’ll be talking about my personal point of view on this one, so don’t get angry if you think differently. As an example, my classmate has asked me : “Which countries is Chinese or whatever Chinese language is, is spoken?” I just stared at him.

Also, there were quite a few of my friends who had no idea, whatsoever, of whom Andrea Bocelli is.

I don’t listen to Opera music…but at least I know who he is; It’s like someone who does not have a clue of whom Mozart is because he doesn’t play the piano.

For many Californians (I think), their nation is a superpower and that is all that counts. IGNORANCE.

5. La Gastronomie Francaise!

TRUTH! French food is definitely varied.

it is superrr delicious that I can’t even explain using words. French cuisine is extremely authentic and exotic- it varies from chicken to intestines. (Not only do the Latin Americans and Chinese eat those stuff…)

One of my favorite dishes is called ‘Steak Tartare’. In short words for this exquisite dish- it is just raw meat. Unfortunately, I’ve never  prepared it in the States due to the use of unknown amounts of hormones in the meat…

6. The culture is sophisticated and perfect!

TRUTH! but..with an exception.

I know this is sooo general but they are really chic from the areas of fashion to culinary arts. If you’ve heard of so many praises of France throughout your life, it’s not false, and neither is it an exaggeration! It is true!

People who visit France for the first time are completely blown away by the French aspects of the rich culture.

There is an exception to this statement though… In my opinion, there are not many talented French singers; French music is pretty weak. In vocals, they are in need of improvement.

AND THAT’S MARION COTILLARD! <3

7. They Stink

MYTH! What is with this stereotype??

The French are not stinky and therefore don’t smell bad. I’ve met and kissed lots of them but I’ve never had an instance where I thought to myself : “When was the last time he took a shower?”

Also, French perfumes are extraordinary! Most people use those expensive, good-smelling products. THEY SMELL FRESH.

8. Women don’t shave

TRU-MYTH! I’m not too sure about this one…

I can’t say that all women don’t shave..but I did meet this French madame who showed her underarms…and it was bushy (period)

9. Nude French Beaches!

TRUTH! Yesss! There are nude beaches!

Don’t be mislead though- Not all French beaches allow nudity; Only a few beaches do…so tourists, don’t be disappointed if you happen to make a spontaneous drop by a French beach during your vacation and not find a topless woman…:)

10. SMOKING!

TRUTH!

So many smoke….a lot! It’s a habit of the French people. They know it’s bad, but they’ve become addicted.

Many begin smoking at 16…It’s part of the culture…

When visiting Paris, you’ll be exposed to all the Tobacco smoke, so be ready :)

I believe that when the French smoke, it’s more a fashion statement than a liking for it.

He’s Jean Baptiste Maunier :) 

Merci!

Odile

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33 responses

  1. Great post and love the format. I am especially flummoxed by the stereotype that the french are rude. They may make you feel bad about yourself by acting superior but they will do it with perfect manners. I was once hosted in a French family’s home. They offered me the option of Diet Coke or Wine with my dinner. I chose wine. With a smirk the hostess said, “Good choice.” It makes me fear all the poor choices I made that my hosts were too polite to bring to my attention.

    October 22, 2012 at 5:53 am

  2. This is interesting.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:38 am

  3. Your everything is wonderful, thanks again for following my blog.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:41 am

  4. Interesting~

    October 22, 2012 at 6:56 am

  5. No, not all French women shave, neither do all American women! I’ve never understood the problem, each to their own! And that thing about French women stinking, not true at all, not even slightly. I think there are more trailerpark dwellers in the States who smell off than in the whole of Europe.

    I’ve heard all the myths and, unlike many fellow Americans, I’ve traveled through France (well, Paris and Strasbourg so far) and seen the reality. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And the cheese, ah yes, the cheese….

    October 22, 2012 at 8:23 am

  6. anishagupta23

    Love this post! I actually believed in some of the above myths. It is refreshing to have different views. :)

    October 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm

  7. I love this post! Having come from the UK I have visited various European countries (Poland, Germany, Belgium etc.) but I’ve yet to visit France. My boyfriend and I are planning to visit Paris for a weekend next May, so thanks for letting me know what to expect haha.
    Your writing style is so easy to read, and very entertaining. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    October 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm

  8. Pour info, la plupart des femmes s’épilent… (point 8), même si on peut trouver des contre-exemples !

    October 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm

  9. Nice post Odile! When I was in Florence I’m sure Italians there didn’t hate Americans either – but, come autumn, they were a bit fed up with tourists only speaking English in a loud voice. Thanks for stopping by on my blog!

    October 22, 2012 at 7:34 pm

  10. hi there please contact me thanks for visiting the site biz Austin

    October 23, 2012 at 3:19 am

  11. The U.S. is made up of so many different ethnic and regional cultures that it would be impossible to attach a blanket identity or “Arrogant American” tag to its residents. There are so many different types of Americans — Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Arab-Americans, Hispanic-Americans etc. These (sub)groups don’t even share the same cultural ideologies.

    As far as regional culture goes, we have the Atlantic Northeast/East Coast, the Southern States, Midwestern Region, Pacific Coast, Southwest Region, the Northern States, Hawaii, and Alaska — the people of these regions are all different.

    I despise hearing about “Arrogant Americans” because it seems like the perception is always based on American tourists or residents of big coastal cities, taking none of the above into consideration.

    Next time you run across one, ask more questions. Just a thought to consider…

    October 23, 2012 at 4:11 am

    • Like I said on the post..that this is a one-sided opinion… I do know that there is a variety of Americans…but I am just citing from my own personal experiences and these are my remarks on them.
      it is wrong for me to generalize and I do accept that there are always exceptions.
      I do apologize if you were hurt in any way, but I clearly stated on the post to not take it personally.
      I should do a post on positive aspects of American culture:)
      Thanks for your input! It’s very much valued.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:09 am

      • I’m not hurt at all, just wanted to put it out there. :)

        October 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

  12. I’m confused about the “Californians” part? Are you specifically referring to people from California, or speaking about Americans as a whole nation? There are 49 more states that make up the U.S.

    Either way, whether you were specifically talking about “Californians” (which I happen to be, respectively speaking) or Americans in general, I was a little disappointed that you would post about clearing up any prejudices about France, yet you displayed a few of your own about America.

    October 23, 2012 at 5:14 am

  13. P.S. I’m not trying to rock the boat or anything, btw. I understand it is your opinion, and you are fully entitled to share your views, especially on your own blog. I just felt it was a little two-sided. America is not a perfect country by far, just as all countries have their “flaws.” But I think its safe to say that because there are millions of people in the U.S. it doesnt seem very fair to use the “majority” to justify your point. Just saying…

    October 23, 2012 at 5:38 am

    • Thanks for your opinion! :)
      And I do understand you in every-way. Due to this specific article, I had to bring my own comparisons to help understand the whole picture; I know I am generalizing, but these are my opinions through my own personal experiences.
      I haven’t met every single and individual American, but what I’ve seen has been so repeated that I can’t help but put the traits in one box. (and I meant, Californians from California, I did not say “all americans”
      If I do write a post about ‘America’ I will definitely be more detailed, but for the sake of this article, France is my focus.
      Thanks for leaving your feedback, and I hope I did not hurt you in any way.
      Odilets

      October 23, 2012 at 5:57 am

  14. Merci Odilets. Lovely and humorous post about one of the countries I enjoy visiting, France:-)

    October 23, 2012 at 9:06 am

  15. I agree with everything you said here, especially the smoking part. Everywhere I looked someone was smoking, i ended up buying my own pack lol. I can’t wait to go back though.

    Cheers.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm

  16. Kazem Toxicology

    Nice article! There’s a lot of good information here. Hopefully I can make a trip to France one day :)

    October 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm

  17. As a native Californian, ex-pat, I would love to respond. This is based on five years living here and several weeks exploring before the move.
    1. Toilets are no worse or better than in any state in America. If you are near the cathedral Notre Dame in Paris, simply walk behind and it is clean and free. However, there is a small dish should you choose to contribute. The Office of Tourism, anywhere if France, will almost always have immaculate restrooms and they are free.
    2. In all this time, I have yet to meet a “rude” french person. During a train strike in Rennes, I did meet a woman at the station who had not experienced the best of days but if you had been there with so many angry tourists, hopefully you would understand that we all have our limits. Yes, the french do take a little time to get to know you. However, from a psychological perspective, this is the best way.
    3. When I arrived, I knew a few words. Not willing to give up, I have thrown myself into learning. Yes, it is more difficult if you have never learned a second language and/or are much older when you begin. However, it is not impossible. As I built up friendships in the village, I was able to convince the village to offer a french course and it keeps growing. YES, if you make that attempt ( and a smile goes a long way) it makes a world of difference.
    4. “They hate Americans”. No, they hate the Ugly American attitude that believes different means wrong or less. One of the joys is the difference and I delight in it. If you want to change things here, please stay where you are!
    5. French food is incredible! Yet, if you cannot appreciate fresh healthy dishes that are well seasoned, there are a few McDonalds around. Beware, there were two in the city of Narbonne and the main one has closed. I never saw many people there unless it was the height of tourist season.
    6. For me, french culture is about their ability to celebrate and make the most of life. While I do my best to cover a bit of it on one of my blogs, I fail to even crack the surface.
    7. While I have heard this, I have failed to find the french person who “smells”. Unless you mean when someone has been in the sun all day picking raisins (grapes) to make the most amazing wines. As for perfumes, I have yet to be over-powered by someone who thinks MORE is more with scent.
    8. Women choose to shave or not. In my travels, that does not appear to be exclusively french choice.
    9. There are nude beaches but topless does not mean nude so don’t get upset if it is not a nude beach but breasts are exposed. For some who cannot handle this, stay away.
    10. I have had less smoke in my face here than in any other country I have visited or living in America.

    11. I must add that France is not Paris and Paris is not France. You will find they are very different. While I adore France, I prefer to live in my small village in the south.

    Merci beaucoup!

    October 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm

  18. This was an enjoyable read!

    October 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

  19. This was awesome. I’m actually studying abroad to Europe next semester!

    October 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    • WOW Lucky you! Where will you be going to?

      October 31, 2012 at 5:49 am

  20. I can say the same for the public toilets in Belgium as well. There was one line in the train station full of men and women all going into the same room. My cousin told me to go ahead it would be fine and handed me some money. There was a woman at a table taking cash to get in. Drunk, no problem. Sober? Different story.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:04 pm

  21. Odile,
    I enjoyed your response to myths about France. Long ago, I visited your nation; long ago, I studied its elegant language. I only wish that I’d been a more serious student. Visiting France and Italy were two highlights of my life. I’m so grateful for having had the opportunity to travel a little, and that French was taught in the school I attended.
    Merci pour votre visite sur mon blog!
    Que Dieu vous bénissez!
    Maria

    October 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm

  22. Now I really want to go to France ! :D

    October 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

  23. Great blog… I found the French people to be perfectly mannered and incredibly tolerant of my appalling attempts to speak their language. We love their country, and would really like to live their for a year or so but our cats keep us to shorter trips!!

    October 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm

  24. Good post, and it’s true…so true! But regarding musicians i don’t totally agree. The music they do is not very commercial, and it doesn’t seem to bother them too much. Maybe that’s why they don’t appear too much in the charts. Trust me, they can sing :)

    November 1, 2012 at 7:35 am

  25. I have been to France several times and to different parts, but always made sure I got to Paris. My favorite city in the world so far. I have been to Europe 13 times. I found that the Parisians justifiably resent tourists taking over their city, causing traffic jams and lines everywhere. ( I feel the same way where I live sometime.) The waiters seem to resent the American hit and run approach to meals. Again I understand that, since meals are a treasured experience in France. Unfortunately for us tourists, there are so many architectural, art, historic, and entertainment treasures and we have limited time to even glimpse a few, we tend to cut meal times short. An insult to the cuisine and the service, I fear.

    One Parisian took a lot of time to help us out in the Metro. She explained that she had visited America and everyone had been so friendly and helpful, that she now tried to return that kindness to tourists.

    I have studied French, but have no ear for language, so my son, who speaks French, encouraged me to write notes and not mangle the lovely French language. The French people away from the crowds in Paris were friendly and kind.

    However, some places were difficult for me since I have to use a wheel chair. Most places went out of their way to accommodate me, but once or twice people were obviously vexed with such an inconvenience to them.

    As a tourist in California, I found people not only friendly and helpful, but that California has been a leader in trying to make everything accessible. I know that America is so young, that it is easier to adapt our newer buildings than ancient castles in Europe. But I do hope the transportation systems in Europe are improving in that.

    I love your blog, your honest, and fresh young viewpoint. I look forward to following your blog.

    November 3, 2012 at 7:47 pm

  26. Fun list. If your picture is current you’re way too young to remember the Viet Nam era but I did a summer session at the Sorbonne then and the French really did hate Americans at that time. I loved my time in Paris anyway and I think I had a bit easier time because I did speak some French. My accent has always been good enough that initially they think I’m French — I got a huge kick at that time that they so didn’t want me to be an American that once I said I wasn’t French they’d next guess Italian, then Spanish, then when I’d said enough for them to pick up a trace of English, they’d go to England, then Canada, then their faces would fall when they got to “Oh, vous etes Americaine. C’est dommage.” I think those days are what started the rep.
    In more recent years when I’ve been back everyone has been lovely. The fact that I always start out speaking French helps and I think perhaps they’re a bit more friendly because of it. But now people often want to use their English on me when I’m trying to practice French!
    As far as the smelly thing, in those days water there was very expensive (have no idea what the story is now) and it was pretty routine for French people to shower or bathe only once a week and to do a sponge bath once or twice. Some got away with that better than others. Although it was certainly not true of anywhere near everyone, there were people who were obviously not homeless but reeked… Again, I think an old situation has created a story that just keeps getting passed along.

    November 4, 2012 at 6:31 am

  27. Great post! I lived in France back in the early 90s. I lived out in the boondocks, and there were more smells and body hair out there than in Paris. My friends probably would have understood several of these myths about *Paris*: rude, dislike people not from there, etc. I find big cities often show this “attitude” of people not having time for people. I see it in New York, Boston, Chicago, and London. Being surrounded by people all the time makes people put up walls between themselves and others.

    November 18, 2012 at 2:40 am

  28. The smoking is AWFUL. I really hate it. But apart from that, I really do love living in France. They are more civilized and sophisticated in many ways. And they are not rude people… but, they could learn a thing or two about friendlier customer service.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  29. This is quite a great article! As someone who lived in France for 4 months in 2011, I think some of the myths you’ve been mentioning are specifically thought about in Paris (and even the French think this as well!). I lived in Normandy where 99 out of 100 people are very friendly and want to get to know you, but even they think Parisians are rude (and in my experience many are). The issue also is you’re dealing with people who work in the tourist industry, not regular Frenchmen and -women. They have to see thousands of you each day, and it gets tiring, trust me. If, as point three states, you make a bit of effort with the language, and as point four says, you don’t view yourself as the only nation/person that matters, they will warm right up to you. Even Americans. A good trick I found was ask where THEY are from. Lots aren’t from Paris, and by showing you are interested in them personally and about their country, they will like you!

    But if all else fails, do what many Americans do: pretend to be Canadian! We won’t mind…

    (I should say, I spent a summer as a tour guide at the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, Canada’s D-Day museum. I can see why many of these myths are prominent about the French and why many French would think this way about Americans and others as well, so please don’t be the clueless Americans/visitors who think everyone should speak English, use American money, or praise Americans for being the only ones in the war. And sorry for hijacking this comment feed!)

    December 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm

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