Posted by / Category London, Stereotypes /

You have kept asking me what is going to happen to the romance of the summer, Carine & Archie (see the first chapters here, here and here).

Well, to cut a long story short, I have decided to publish their story around spring time and, in the meantime, I will let you know more about them. I will probably go down the self-publishing route as publishing companies keep asking me to ‘tone it down’ -whatever this means-. I was also told that Carine wasn’t really nice, which came to a surprise to the publisher.

Well no, she is not. She happens to be French. And I hate to break it to you, but nobody is perfect, and we French women are no exception. Sorry, I had to tell you. Are you still listening?

While we are at it, I think that it is time for you to know that French women do get fat. Our children are not that well behaved and no, we don’t smoke to cut our appetite. We are just –gasp- normal. Shocking, right?

I am not saying that there are no cultural differences, but they are tenuous. Even subtle sometimes. And not necessarily what you would expect them to be.


And I keep being asked whether I am Carine. More about this some other time!

I have read somewhere that there is an illness called the Paris syndrome. The condition is commonly viewed as a severe form of culture shock, and is a psychological disorder exhibited by some tourists visiting or vacationing in Paris or elsewhere in Western Europe. In the most severe cases, it can require hospitalisation (I know that some of you like numbers, so here it is: there are a dozen severe cases amongst Japanese tourists every year). It is characterised by a number of psychiatric symptoms such as acute delusional states, hallucinations, feelings of persecution, anxiety, and also psychosomatic manifestations such as dizziness, tachycardia, sweating, and others. To cut a long story short, the victim has such an idealised view of Paris and of we French that he/she can’t cope with the reality of what Paris is about (in no particular order: dog poo, smelly tube, pickpockets, rude waiters…). I personally blame the publishing industry, because it keeps painting a rose-tinted picture of what France is like.


But I digress. What I am trying to say here is that Carine is a normal French women, warts and all. Nothing more. Nothing less. There is a scene I removed from the book (maybe I should put it back, let me know what you think) . It is about the fact that Carine sometimes dodges the tube fare, just for the fun of it. She is very middle-class, and there is no justification whatsoever as to why she would do this, but you need to know that it’s something that’s very popular amongst young French professionals. On the Paris tube, you see people jumping the barriers all the time, just for the fun of it. I kid you not. It’s Carine’s rebellious side. Obviously this behaviour is looked down upon in London where people queue in a specific order and abide by the law (at least more than in France). She gets caught dodging the Tube fare on the Tube without any money, and Archie has to bail her out. He is shocked and doesn’t understand why she did this. She finds it hilarious. Again, I am pretty sure that you didn’t know we French could be like this.

So what are your views? Should I stick to my guns or should I make Carine more likeable? I really wonder…