The best gastronomy? In France, of course. The most beautiful landscapes? In France. The richest cultural heritage? Again, in France. At least, that’s what foreigners have the impression of hearing from the French when they talk about their country.

The French are rude

A rude woman who sticks her tongue out: This stereotype comes to us mainly from tourists who come to France on vacation, and particularly to Paris. Waiters have a bad reputation: they don’t smile, they’re moody, they’re unfriendly and they’re sometimes even aggressive! All of which undermines the French reputation when it comes to welcoming tourists. In fact, Paris is considered the rudest city in Europe.

The French are romantic

French men have a reputation for being perfect lovers. Romantic, cultured, attentive… in short, the epitome of finesse and gallantry. The origins of this stereotype are unclear, but the image of Paris as the capital of love in the imagination of tourists around the world surely plays its part. Small gestures, such as holding the door open for the person behind you, and the rules of table manners, for example, reinforce the idea of the romantic Frenchman.

The French all know how to cook

If foreigners are to be believed, the French are all-star chefs. France is renowned for its gastronomy and culinary traditions, so it’s only a short step to saying that the French are all gourmets. In fact, since 2010, gastronomy, or rather the gastronomic meal of the French, has been included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

This video can explain it:

The French are heavy smokers

Cigarettes, if possible accompanied by a glass of wine on the terrace of a Parisian café, are often associated with the stereotypical image of the French. And indeed, there are more smokers in France than in other countries. In Europe, France ranks 4th out of 28 member states, with 32% of the population smoking. This cliché is especially prevalent in the cinema, where French people are often seen with a cigarette in their mouth – and a drink in their hand.

The French are bad at foreign languages, especially English

This cliché has a long life, but it’s not totally unfounded. In 2015, France ranked 29th out of 72 countries for English proficiency among adults. This puts it in the average category, just 2 points above the poor category. The reasons are to be found in learning methods, which are highly theoretical and leave little room for oral practice. The result: abroad, the French have a reputation for being bad and/or unwilling to express themselves in another language. That said, the French make up for this with Spanish, which is a Romance language, so grammar and phonetics are much closer to the language of Molière.

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