Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

I have already told you: we French are special. We French are different. Of course we are. That’s why there is such a strong anti-French sentiment. Love it or hate it, we want the world to know that we do things our own way. It’s in our genes. So, what do we do differently? Here are a few examples…

The French cultural exception of course: we have our own singers and movie stars. Of course we accept that most global culture is in English, we just want our own to get funding too. To cut a long story short, the anglo-saxon world considers arts as an industry making profits, whereas we French consider culture as the product of ideas that extend beyond strict commercial value. We are a bunch of idealists.


The food. French gastronomy was added by the UNESCO to its lists of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”…We French have a very high opinion of our cooking. We explained to the whole world how things should be done. Not to mention that nothing tops up the Michelin guide. In short, don’t you ever try to explain to us what food is about. Especially when the bread this side of the Channel is systematically under cooked. Just saying. And do not dare to mention a straight croissant to me.

Taxes. There are many taxes in France. Taxes account for 45% of GDP against 37% on average in OECD countries. The levels of social security contributions are particularly high (16.3% of revenue against 9.4% in average for OECD). The social security budgets are larger than the budget of the national government. The budgets of both the national government and of social security organisations run deficits that keep growing year on year. It doesn’t seem to worry anyone. We are totally chilled about it, and leave the issue to future generations or expect a bail-out from someone else (anyone else really: other countries, big companies, millionaires, etc…). That’s just us.

Strikes. Nobody, absolutely nobody strikes like the French. And if you don’t believe me, read this post about a wildcat strike in Marseille airport:

French kiss. No comments, really, except that everybody calls the French kiss French except us French (did you follow?). In fact, nobody knows if the French kiss is really French: That’s it, I have come clean.

French parenting. Apparently, we French are better at parenting. Our kids are a delight, they behave beautifully in all circumstances and it’s all oh so easy. Yeah right. As if it were true. Don’t believe any book written by American women who have lived in the post areas of Paris. Just saying!

French style. Of course we French women are glamorous creatures with an innate sense of style. We don’t eat, we don’t get fat, we do everything effortlessly. Yeah right. As if.

In short, I have to break it to you: we French are just, well, normal human beings. Warts and all.




  • MP

    I have French television and you’d be surprised at how many British television formats are on tv over there.

    Bake Off, Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing etc, yet there’s always a French slant, even on foreign tv shows.

    However I agree that there’s more of arts and culture theme in France on the public service channels, where as we just have BBC Four. France 2 shows comedy plays live from Parisian theatres, when was the last time BBC1 ever showed a live play instead of EastEnders?

    • Things might indeed have changed since I left…That said, we still have Arte and a lot of French series. It will be interesting to see if we French manage to maintain the ‘cultural exception’.

  • Here is another thing which makes you different – according to this sign in a London hotel room where a friend is staying today if you are French you should apply lipstick and powder to your room! Quelle domage!!

    • Well, it must be a new thing! I had never seen it before…

  • Graham Coulson

    Excellent post, MuriEl. It’s true, you’re ALL yummy – not just the mummies !

    I shall have to go and read your post on the soi-disant ‘French’ kiss – it’s been so long, I’ve almost forgotten what it is❗️? Something akin to what the British call a snog, I think…

    Meanwhile, je vous offre des petites corrections (si je peux !) – the expression ‘to top up’ means to replenish or refill. Par contre, the Americanism (and their dreadful habit of turning nouns into verbs) ‘to top’ (which is what I think you intended in your post here) means to defeat or to do better than, as in “You cannot top a top-hat for elegance.”

    That said, (a favourite MuriEl expression !), I shall now go and read about snogging ! So long ! ☺️