Hidden In France

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May 31, 2012

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vero/bermick

Hello..... from France!!!
Evidemment, j'adore toutes ces idées reçues et je suis morte de rire pour certaines... les bérets, Maurice Chevalier... Tu as juste oublié le camembert et la baguette de pain ;-))))
Je me régale et je vais continuer à faire quelques découvertes de mon pays sur ton blog.
A bientôt... je reviendrai... sans béret... lol!!!
ps : ah, j'allais oublié, je suis totalement d'accord sur les fesses françaises (oh my god!!!!)
Véro

Muralimanohar

As an American who has lived substantial amounts of time in other countries, I can tell you I have listened to many, many snide comments and bashing of Americans...its been open season for quite awhile, yk?

All that said, I really come over here to pick your brains! Im leaving in a month for a week in your home country (only managing Paris, and then on to London), and can you please tell me what I can NOT miss seeing, doing, eating (vegetarian only, of course!) etc etc!!! Ive been trying (and failing) to pick up rudimentary French, studying travel tips, looking up attractions, but I know I am going to miss SO MUCH, cause there is so much to do! Its going to be awesommmmmmme!!!

Felicia S.

Glad that you wrote this post. Everything you wrote I can turn it around and say French people (yes, I live in France and have for quite some time) do and say about Americans, yes, I'm American. Your words brought a smile to my face because I've often been in the company of who I thought were intelligent and come to find out they have some irrational ideas and opinions about my country. The kicker is most of them have only been to NY or California for about a week or some have never step foot in my country at all, yet they are not lacking in opinions about it and its people. Bof! What are you going to do? I sit back and grin (which really seems to irritate French people) and say nothing. Or on the rare occasion that I do say something I'll ask how long they've lived and worked in the U.S....Crickets. They promptly change topics and the evening goes on. I love the French but sometimes we ALL have to mind our manners, non?

Lucie Simone

I spent an amazing week in Paris a few years ago, and I only had one run in with a "snooty" Parisian, and she was selling cheese sandwiches along the Seine, so I figured she was just miserable because she was selling cheese sandwiches from a cart along the Seine. Every other experience I had was so rich, so wonderful that I immediately wanted to move there! That hasn't happened yet, but I still fantasize about it, and read books set in Paris (like yours!) to make me feel close to the city.

Anika

A great post. I consider myself a Francophile and have lived and worked out there. You're right about people judging the French, the English especially! I have had great experiences living out there, what I like is that the French are protective of their own identity -their food, culture, music. I admire that.

JNU

I'm a British writer who has lived in New York since my twenties and I must say that the English bashed the French just as hard when I was growing up. I believe I have the reason: because the French are not afraid to step out of line and it makes people jealous. They stand up for what they believe in. British conservatives get absolutely furious when the French strike for example. I wonder exactly who bashes the French to you though. French blogs by US expats are as popular in the US as so-called Mommy blogs because the French way of life is aspirational. You only have to put one picture of a French door on your post to get three hundred comments! It's very interesting.

marti

Corinne,
Very well said! I visited Paris last October, and found the Parisiens to be wonderful and friendly (with the exception of 2 encounters, one at Versaille and one at a Patisserie). Because of what I had heard and read in books, I was a little nervous about the attitudes toward Americans in France, but I really can't say enough about the wonderful French people that were so nice to us on our trip. My girlfriend and I did our best to honor French traditions while in France, and in return, everyone seemed please with our effort, even of our very poor efforts with the beautiful French language. Thanks for your post, I hope it will change some attitudes. Additionally, I love your blog! ~Marti

Playing With Scarves

Chère Corine,
You know how much I love your blog. Your style is irresistible and your photos always fabulous. They make me home sick though!
Just wanted to tell you two things:
1) I added a while ago a link to your blog on my own blog (playing with scarves). If you could return the favor, I would highly appreciate it. In advance thanks !
2) I have nominated you for a richly deserved Blogger Award (called..."The Sunshine Award"... Believe it or not, I am not the one who chose the name of it!). Please go to my latest post on my Blog for more details. Sharing blogs is a fun aspect of the blogosphere and I hope you'll enjoy that.
Good luck for your coming book !
Amicales pensées de Floride :-)
Anne

Domenico

I've seen, heard, and read universal complaining about almost every race. The French are not alone, in fact they are in very good company.

parisbreakfast

Thanks for the NYTimes review link to Druckerman's book. Being somewhat paranoid, I think the Times has a problem with Druckerman being from the WSJ, who gave her a huge pump. She told me she did 3 years research on French child rearing and the bibliography in the back + copious notes prove it.She said she never expected the book to be successful or get so much attention.
Certainly her book changed how I view and experience the French. So much is instilled in childhood - particularly respect for others (all the required Bonjouring of children) respect for food, and respect for the child by parents(letting a child find it's own resources rather than constantly guiding/teaching every single moment of the day). In Paris I noticed all the rules spelled out everywhere in plain sight on how to behave, whether on the bus, metro, on a bike, at the pool, in the park with posters and diagrams. And people follow the rules. Bikers do not try to run you down in the crosswalk nor do truckers try to hit you as in NYC. The importance of respect again.
Although the 'Paris, I Love you' book is more of a personal journal of 18 months working in a high flying ad agency on the Champs-Elysees, there too respect for others is noted: when exiting the Metro and holding the sortie door for the next person etc. Many nuances are noted. I didn't see it as 'ribbing' the French but on the challanges of living in a different culture than your own. Certainly many books out there are trying to figure out the French. I admit to making up my own theories on my blog, always in a totally frivolous way.
Well I've run on here too much...a thought provoking post.
Thank you Corinne
carolg

Brenda

I don't feel Americans in general dislike France or the people that live there. I can't think of one. Most American bloggers are in love with France. Myself included.
I tell my children, the world is a big, beautiful place. Travel often and create your own opinion. Never stereotype and look at everything with an open mind. Otherwise, you may be missing out on something, perhaps a good friendship. We're very lucky to live in a diverse neighborhood and have friends of various nationalities. We have learned so much of different cultures. One of the beautiful things about children is that they don't notice a difference in each other. If only everyone could feel that way.
I'm sorry that journalist upset you; however, as with anything, you will always have a few... I'm sad for anyone with a closed mind.
xoxo, B

sepatuholic

I would love the cities, not the people. Specially waitresses.... they are sooooooo rude, 1st I thought, maybe only in Paris, I start to pay attention in Biaritz, NOPE! Hossegor,NOPE! Dax, NOPE! what a? pffff.....
http://sepatuholig.blogspot.com/

Amy

I think that it goes both ways. I'm an American who has lived in France the past three years and I've had to defend my country in the same way. However, I think the reason some people like to bring down the French or even Americans is because there are others who like you said put them on a pedestal. You can't have good without bad. Americans have preconceived notions about the French just like the French have preconceived notions about Americans. I guess we just have to be patient and work as our own ambassadors for our countries to help change those perceptions.

P.S. I complain about the French a lot--well really the French administration, but I feel I've earned the right after dealing with it for three years ;)

melanie

I, for one, would like to thank you for this post, in particular. I think it is imperative that we, as a culture, and as individuals, continually check ourselves and our behavior. It's especially important to foster awareness of the language and behaviors that we "don't even think about." So, thank you for this very important reminder. I wish you fortitude!

Elizabeth Mackey

I love what Margo wrote! I think she hit the nail on the head!

Robyn France

I love France although there are aspects which I do not love (dog poop on the sidewalk and so much smoking)--however, I get very irritated when people start on wholesale rants--invariably, having had little personal experience with the country. My personal fave is the individual who returned to tell me that France didn't have much good art--I didn't even try to work with her.

Carol White

I was going to say, "try being Jewish" but saw you covered that. Many Americans have a preconceived notion about France. Personally, I love it and wish I were fluent in the language. I've been several times and have never encounted any problems. I guess it's similar to people who "hate" New York...I don't even bother defending it. Better they should stay away.

elaine

I'm afraid the same things are said in the UK - like, we have never liked the French - there is quite a bit of history between the two countries but so is there between the UK and Germany. I'm all for a 'live and let live' policy and take no notice of self-opinionated racists. p.s. I loved your book I don't suppose there will be a sequel will there - I would like to know what happens to everyone!

Margo M

This may sound contrarian, but really isn't meant to be. In some ways I think of the attention France gets is a backhanded compliment. As an American who lived in France a while back, as well as in two other European countries, I have spent a good bit of time defending the France and the French people. I have spent at least that much time defending the US and Americans - not to just the French but to people of other nationalities. My observation is the rest of the world is a little obsessed with both countries. Like flawed prom queens and student body presidents, both the US and France are easy targets - a direct result of the two countries historically being on center stage both culturally and geo-politically.

Elizabeth Mackey

Well said, and put into words that I have been saying for quite sometime. I lived in France for two years, and I must say, I loved every bit of it, even the frustrating moments.

I lived in Garches, just outside of Paris(as you may already know). We lived there when the war started in 2003. Not once were we treated badly by any French person, and as a matter of fact we were always treated very kindly, with never a bad word said to us.

While living there and reading(in the newspapers) all the really stupid things that we (the U.S) were saying and doing back in the States, I had NEVER been so embarrassed in my life for being American!!! I remember once, a clerk asked me if I was American, and I shyly said yes. She said," We love the United States, just not George Bush!!!" I laughed and said I felt the same way!!

I found the French very genuine, and not fake, like Americans can be. They don't always have a fake smile plastered on their faces, saying "have a nice day." I suppose I am not the typical American, given that my mother is from Panama, and my Father is Canadian, so I wasn't raised like the average American kid.

You are right though, in how Americans, without even thinking, will say something negative about France and French people. It seems so ingrained, and half have never been there, nor do they know anything about the culture.

I have so much to say on this topic, but I don't want to ramble on in your comment section too much :)

One thing though, why don't Americans remember that it was France that came to our rescue during the revolutionary war???!!!! here is a good link that goes into more detail. http://www.subdude-site.com/WebPages_Local/Blog/topics/government/govmt_on_cheese-eating_surrender-monkeys.htm

There would be no America as we know it if it were not for the French!! Vive La France!!!

This American, loves France warts and all :)

Chez Loulou

Well stated! You have every right to be grumpy, because it happens too much.
I am often in the position of defending France and the French when I visit the US. One time I was sitting in a bar in New Orleans with a friend and a couple came and sat down next to us.
We started to talking and when my friend said I that lived in France, the man made this face and said, "France...I hate France!"
I calmly asked him if he had ever been to France and (of course) the man said, "No."
Without another word, my friend and I looked at each other, got up and moved to the other end of the bar.

Penny Herring

You can come hang with me in Ojai .... all my friends (Americans) are "Francophiles"! LOL ! I say countries are just like families, neighborhoods or individuals...some get an A in a few subjects, and a B in others, etc. and fail in other areas. We all have our good attributes and others we need to work on. I remember when my parents moved to Pakistan (almost 20 years ago...but are back in the US now), all of their friends thought they were insane! Of course, they had a wonderful experience even though many aspects of the culture were difficult to comprehend but they were sad to leave all the friends they had made when they returned home. Now they are educating people about the humanity of that part of the world....just like you are doing with France! If we were all the same how boring life would be. Keep up the good work Corine.

feng shui by fishgirl

Submit this to huffpost....its a winner!

Isabelle

Excellent post Corine, I feel you. I have to add that in France, sadly, it is also ok to bash the US and everyone who lives in it. I end up defending the French here in America and defending the Americans when I am in France. Just exhausting.
Overall, I find people who like to stereotype a whole country at a time (French never bathe, Americans are arrogant etc) are usually not people whose opinion I care about anyway.

Krista

Good for you!!! I'm not American but lived in the States for many years. Just like in France there are good ones and bad ones, enlightened ones and seriously prejudiced ones. You are right. Most of the people I know who attack the French haven't actually met any. I have. I met some fabulous ones. I met others who I wanted to strangle. :-) (Not literally, of course). My brother lived in Paris for nearly a year, working side by side with French businessmen and women. He adore some of them and thought others were appalling. It is so, so silly to judge people wholesale. It is ignorant and fear-based and never, ever results in more love, understanding or kindness. Again, I say, good for you! :-)

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