- French women don't get fat. Wait, that is a book! Although based on a myth that may sound fascinating to desperate nordic women such as myself, struggling daily with a wobbly derrière or tangible love handles, it is still a myth. I see plenty of fleshy, earthy, well-rounded mamas here in the french countryside. The exception are, of course, parisian women. Those eternal keepers of protein bars and little mineral water bottles. At my age and after, one has to decide whether to go for a lovely face or a lovely body. Parisian women choose the body for some reason I have yet to comprehend.
- French men are great lovers. Bet there's a book by that name as well. I will not delve deeply into this fascinating subject, although I'm very tempted. And there are without doubt many great lovers wandering around amongst the noble Gallic tribe. But I will say this: a bulging male ego does not a great lover make. This has myth written all over the girth and length of it.
- French women do not shave. I won't even hint at what kind of a book would have that for a name (again, one probably does). Who came up with that? Come on.
- French men wear berets. That sounds like a war-time memoir. The oldest men in my village wear berets, and the young french men probably did in the fifties. However, this is just like saying all Italian guys have a long greasy curved mustache.
- The french stink. A french-basher's classic. I have rarely met people so devoted to showering and putting hours into choosing just the right expensive perfume as the french.
- French people are unfriendly. OK, so this is not a name for a bestseller, but it's still an all-time favorite sentence that I've often heard. I mean, who hasn't gotten wind of a chilling chronicle about some horrible incident in a parisian café or a chic boutique? Even I can throw you some good ones, and true accounts, too! But that's Paris. Or St Tropez. Any major tourist attraction, really. Lourdes. Places where the locals are so tired of tourists that they just don't give a damn about being nice - they want them out, fast, whatever the cost. (Forgive me for saying this, but I kind of understand this. Having worked years as a boutique manager at one of Montmartre's busiest spots teeming with liberal amounts of camera-carrying wanderers every day of the year... after being asked 'Where is the Sacre-Coeur' for the thousandth time, I became chilling as well. Now I've said it. I've ruined some poor devil's romantic Parisian vacation.) However - the french countryside is packed with smiling, helpful frenchmen and -women that bend over backwards to help you out. Something you don't often see in, say, Finnish countryside.
- French people are always drunk (and other favorite toast and drinking songs, vol. 1) Nobody drinks as much as the french. Even the working man, on his long lunch break. After having carried stones or laid bricks or paved the roads the whole morning, he orders a heavy lunch and a bottle of red 'vin de pays'. Teachers (have seen this in my Bourges boarding school) drinking at lunch, at dinner. Bankers, postal workers, artists, heaven forbid. They drink wine, wonderful, french, enjoyable, red or white or rosé or sparkling wine. But are they drunk? No. Rarely do I see a french person drunk. I'm talking about the diverse states of drunkenness I'm used to seeing, being a Finn. And if by mistake a frenchman (other than that one village sponge exuding Pastis) does act drunkenly, he is swift to apologize. NB: I do not talk about a worrisome phenomenon that goes by the name of 'teenage binge drinking'. That is a whole other subject, and that for another evening.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The French- The Myths
'So, you must drink wine from morning 'till night, then! Those french people, they're drunk all the time!' That's one of those phrases that come my way when I say I live in France. There's a lot of reality-bending stereotype rumors going around about the french. Most of those rumors are such wild fiction, they sound like great names for novels! Examples: