Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /


Why is French bashing so popular? Seriously, it is starting to get a bit annoying. Not to mention the fact that, after more than a decade, I have heard it all before. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about some constructive criticism here, and I am the first one to admit that I am happier in London than in France, mainly because I find people more pragmatic. But seriously, what is it with the violent diatribes against the French? Things reached a new low last week with Andy Street’s speech (you can read about it here). Basically he said that France was finished, and that we French were lazy lumps (that was implied, actually). He later claimed that his comments were tongue-in-cheek, and ended up apologising unreservedly. However, it was too late, the whole incident had already created quite a stir, and the French told him to go back home to have a fish and chips.

As far as I know, nobody is perfect, but the Brits are extremely quick to point out any flaws of their French neighbours. Given the fact that approximately three millions Brits have French ancestry, this is a bit rich. Not to mention the fact that France is full of Brits. And often, such intemperate diatribes simply miss the point: despite the bad economy, France still has a lot going for itself.
Here is just an anecdote that I thought I should share: a few months ago, my 90-year-old grandfather was diagnosed with lymphoma. As he lives in France, it took him only two weeks to see an oncologist once he had consulted his GP. He started the first campaign of chemotherapy a couple of days later. As he lives in a small village, a taxi was picking him up and waiting for him every time he had to go to the hospital. He didn’t have to pay a cent, it was all taken care of. After six rounds of chemotherapy, he is in remission, and I am pleased to say that he is doing well. He was even able to meet his newborn great-granddaughter. I am deeply grateful that he received such a fantastic care. I hate to think that, had he lived in the UK, things might have been different. I even remember one of the top doctors of this country saying that he wanted to deny cancer drugs to the elderly, because it was a huge burden on the NHS. When did showing a bit of compassion become a weakness? I wonder. In this instance I am incredibly proud to be French.
As for being lazy, the productivity of the French is amongst the best in Europe. The high unemployment rate is mainly due to restrictive labour laws (once you are in, you are in, and jobs for life are still up for grabs).
In short, I urge all French bashers to get a life. They completely miss the mark. Some of them might have been rejected by a a French girl when they were younger. Don’t take it out on us, Love!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • Some of my best friends are French even if they do forget my Birthday!

    • Happy birthday David! Don’t worry, I am still here!

  • I was with you, Muriel, until the next to last paragraph. As one who has had his life upset REPEATEDLY by random work actions (actually work stoppages) at the Paris airport (CDG AND Orly), as well as by Air France, I am not sure either of these two groups can be certified as productive…

    • I think that what you are describing, Roy, is once again what a minority of workers can do to a majority of normal citizen. France needs to change, that’s for sure, but i don’t think that most people support such strikes.

  • I find the French bashing a bit strange myself I happen to love France, the people, culture and food okay I am a bit biased Paris is one of my favorite cities

    • I am glad that you are such a Francophile Lillian! I love France too…

  • France get bashed and French people in London bash the NHS. Always the same old story.

  • Oh well I always wanted a French girlfriend :)… never got one but I still love the French 🙂

    • Well, we can’t have everything we want all the time, right?

  • It quite put me off John Lewis hearing that bigoted horrible stuff. I don’t care if it was a private comment or meant to be a joke, it was still pathetic.

  • I can’t take a stand on the French health system vs. the NHS – it all sounds almost incomprehensibly better than what we’ve got in the U.S. But I sympathize with your overall point (and am glad most Americans saw the idiocy of “freedom fries”).

    • Ah, the famous freedom fries. Actually it was almost funny. I suppose that between very close nations a small difference always appears to be magnified?

  • That speech was horribly misjudged, and deeply awkward. There are people who say stupid things and make sweeping generalisations in all nations sadly. I’ve been on the receiving end of numerous diatribes about the British – even those who’ve been long dead for hundreds of years, for whom I am supposed to feel responsibility. Each of us is accountable to ourselves, rather than an entire country! Frustrating though it is, sometimes we just have to remind each other of this…as your excellent post above does, Muriel!

    • It drives me mad when people assume I feel responsible for something that happened long ago, such as, say, the Napoleonic wars. Seriously, what has it got to do with us?