Dabbling in Jet Lag
Believe it or not but when I first moved to France I didn’t like it, even though I was living in one of the best cities for expats.
I struggled to learn French and adapt to the culture. I was unable to connect with people and relate to my surroundings. Even with my then-boyfriend by my side, I felt isolated. But once I had a grasp on the language that all changed. I could communicate in a way that I couldn’t before, and I developed a new appreciation for the country and its people. The more I learned, the more I grew as a person, and my frustrations slowly drifted away. Now, I love France, and I’m proud to call it my home.
If you’re thinking of moving to France or if you’re already here, you might be in the same situation. So, to help you overcome these feelings, I’m going to delve into the reasons why people dislike France. I will cover the common misconceptions and prove why they are not reasons to dislike France, but rather reasons to love it!
7 Reasons Why a lot of People Dislike France
1. French People are Arrogant
French people are often perceived as arrogant, which can be off-putting to some. In general, they can be vocal about their opinions and critical of others. This is especially true when it comes to other cultures. Then, if you take into account their strong sense of national pride, it’s easy to see why this stereotype exists.
I would, however, argue that this is true of any nationality. Every country thinks they are better than everyone else. But it’s important to remember that each has its strengths and weaknesses. So, if you come across a French person who thinks or vocalizes that their culture is better, start a discussion and see if you can learn something from it. Remain open-minded and willing to receive their reasoning. I’ve done this several times, and it has helped me to better understand their culture.
2. They Refuse to Speak English
If there is one thing the French are proud of, it’s their language. And rightly so! It’s a beautiful language. Not only that but why would a French person want to speak English in France?
I’m a strong advocate for learning new languages, especially if you’re considering moving abroad. While the language barrier can be difficult to overcome in France, it’s something you’ll have to get used to. And it’s certainly not a reason to dislike France. If anything it’s a reason to love France. When I was finally able to speak French, my initial impressions changed. I saw how vital it was to the culture and preserving the customs and traditions. It was at this moment that I began to fall in love with France.
3. France is Dirty
It’s true that Paris is not the cleanest city. There’s even a phenomenon called Paris Syndrome. It occurs when tourists are so disappointed with the cleanliness of the city that they become depressed. Since most people only visit Paris, they assume that the rest of the country is also not clean. But I can assure you that this isn’t true and it’s not a reason to dislike France. I’ve traveled a lot in France, and Paris is not representative. If you don’t believe me, just visit the small towns in Alsace or spend three days in Strasbourg. I can guarantee that by the time you’re done, you’ll agree that France is a very beautiful and clean country.
4. They are Rude
French people are often perceived as rude. They tend to be frank and more formal in social situations. And compared to Americans they are not as outgoing, which can come across as impolite. From personal experience, I would not use the word rude, but rather shy. I’ve found that it takes longer to get to know French people, but once you’re able to pass this barrier, you’ll have a lifelong friend. They are loyal, kind, supportive, and anything but rude.
5. French Bureaucracy is Slow
The French bureaucracy is a nightmare. Everything is ridiculously complicated and it can take months to get things done. So, it’s no surprise that this is one of the main reasons why people dislike France.
For me, it’s the most frustrating system I’ve ever experienced, and, of what’s listed here, it’s the only one that is true. If you are planning on moving to France, it’s something you’ll have to deal with. Over the years, I’ve learned to be more patient and prepare myself for the unexpected. On more than one occasion I’ve had requests for documents that were not listed anywhere. I, eventually, began bringing everything with me for every appointment. It’s a strategy that has proven to be effective time and time again. I even used it when I applied for my long-stay visa.
I should mention that the French government has made efforts to increase the efficiency of its bureaucracy in recent years. More services are online and you can even contact various agencies via email. It still has a long way to go, but it is improving.
6. French dislike Americans
There’s a general feeling that the French dislike Americans and vice versa. But this is an overarching statement that can’t be analyzed without looking at the differences between the two countries.
First, the cultures, politics, and economies, are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The United States has more of a capitalist way of doing things whereas France is more socialist. Now, I’m not saying that one is better than the other. I’m simply pointing out that the overall way of doing things is different. And this is where the majority of misunderstandings arise.
When I first came to France, many of my colleagues had preconceived notions about me because I was American. Only after I showed that I was willing to have an open dialogue did their opinion change.
7. French People are Lazy
There is a perception that French people are lazy. They often take long lunches and seem to work fewer hours than people in other countries. Not only that but France ranks in the top ten for countries that go on strike. And, while this may be true, the French economy is, actually, very productive, ranking third in Europe. So, rather than say that the French are lazy, I would argue that they have a better work-life balance. They work hard while they are at work so they can enjoy their time away from the office.
The concept of work-life balance is not something that I was accustomed to as an American. But, since implementing this concept my quality of life has improved. I’m happier, healthier, and have a more positive outlook on life.
It’s easy to list reasons why people don’t like France. Some go as far as to say, “I hate France.” But this kind of attitude only fuels prejudice. I’ve been living in France for quite some time, and I’ve grown to love the country, its people, its language, and its culture. Many of the points listed above did cross my mind over the years, but I used them as a source of conversation. I took the time to learn why these existed and discovered that they are, for the most part, derived from misunderstandings. And, hopefully, this post has convinced you of the same.
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Hope you enjoyed my article on why people dislike France and found it useful. Here are some other articles that I think you might find interesting.
after translating your article i understood the meaning better, sorry for being insulting i thought at first i had come across an article that spits on france.
Thank you for apologizing. I hope you have a nice day!
Bonne journée 🙂
Thanks for posting this article.
Australian Expats here.
My wife & and I have been in Nice, France now for almost 24 months.
I’d really like to know more about how you have been able to really enjoy this country, and how you’ve overcome those barriers 🙂
I was really excited to see your insights!
What exactly was it about learning the French language for you that changed your perspective? What were the key moments?
We were super excited coming over here, and very open minded. In this time, we have come to dislike Nice, let alone most of the places we have been to in France. With saying that, I LOVE Italy & LOVE Spain.
The arrogance is almost a cliche. However, it unquestionably is strong here, like you mentioned; tied in with national pride (which is something super important). Arrogant: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. This to me SCREAMS Cote D Azure. Not only that, it also is directly tied into ignorance. I have had to show butchers here how to cut brisket. How to cut beef ribs. (The butcher did ask me how to do it). Whilst others just shake their head and say no. Asking for Cuisse De Poulet san Os, everyime the answer is no. And I just smile politely and then they cut it.
50% of the people have been kind with our Frenglish. Then the other half just stare blankly, or directly laugh in our faces or the people next to them when we are trying our best to speak French. That’s not okay. That’s not a society to be apart of. This also ties back into the arrogance.
When someone is struggling to speak English/words are wrong/wrong grammar, I do everything I can to make it as easy as possible for them.
Nice & Marseille are filthy cities. This morning, 8 minute walk from our apartment to the cafe, there were 11 different dog poos on the street. Ciggie butts everywhere, used condoms on the street, general litter, human poo, and vomit. We live in what’s considered the “Golden District.” So the best area in Nice. Constantly seeing men of all ages, and young children with their parents, urinating in random public spaces. We usually see the later two once every two weeks, and the used condoms about once a month. Not to mention the “pee walls” that are all over both cities. These places ARE dirty.
I agree, I don’t think it’s rude, and the shyness can often be thought of as rude. It’s more reserved and guarded. But more than that, it’s the selfishness. The self importance. Again, coming back to arrogance. On the street people just walk into you, look at you or say something to you. I almost walked into a guy, and he almost walked into me. I apologised, and then he picked me up and held me against the wall, telling me “You will be sorry.” The tram door opens, no-one waits for people to get off, its just straight on.
Real Estate takes 9-14 days to respond. Australia in three different states was 24-48 hours. Our building buzzer doesn’t work for our apartment because “I can’t find the building.” For work experience I was with a friend’s colleague for the day. He worked for 4 hours. Actually doing work. the other 4.5 was lunch, smoking, coffee, talking (complaining). There was little to no process or order. This is not uncommon. The 4.5 hours of not working is uncommon, but it’s usually 2-3 hours a day of no work being done.
And then the food. Jees. My background was a chef, and butcher, now IT. The food here is abhorrent. The butchers are about as bad as I was in my first year apprenticeship. Not to mention very expensive.
My question to you is, along with a plea of desperation; How do you do it?
We’ve made French friends, and people from all sorts of backgrounds, and the story seems to be one of two. “I hate it here too because of these reasons, these people have no idea” – Strasbourg Friend
“Your experience is the opposite of mine, I love it here, it’s the best country in the world.” (Has never traveled outside of Italy or France.)
We want to enjoy it here, but we’re constantly at a 2/10, 3/10 average on a week.
We used to be a 7/10, 8/10 average in Australia.
Yes, I can attest to having the same feelings as you at one point or another. And I know the south is really known for being dirty…my French husbands refuses to go anywhere near the Mediterranean coast.
There are lots of moments that made me hate France over the years.
In the beginning, the arrogance irritated me. And when I tried to talk to people at work they outright refused to help me. I couldn’t get my carte vital because the secretary wanted me to speak french first..yeah I had no health insurance for like six months. (And she was like the folks you are talking about…hours for lunch, always on break, never doing a gd thing correctly. It was super frustrating.) Another secretary forgot to turn in my visa papers for work so I had no legal documents. I couldn’t leave the country…yeah.
But when I started speaking French my life changed. (But not a mix of English and French, just French.) It wasn’t all of a sudden perfect, but it definitely made an impact. Somehow I had their respect. I watched French movies/TV and it helped me to understand where they were coming from. Once they saw I made an effort they then made an effort in return. People were nicer to me. Until this day, I still can’t believe it.
To answer your question – “How do I do it?”
I think I look at my life as a whole. I lived in a lot of places and what I get out of France is the quality of life. The health care, the food, the vacation days, none of which I’ve had elsewhere. I somehow feel at home after all these years. I think over the years I’ve just come to realize that everywhere is the same. There are these minor differences and it’s these differences that make or break a place for me. I’ve lived in places where I know that there is no way in hell I could stay forever. But I have friends who feel totally different about that same place. It’s a gut feeling. It’s always based on your own experiences and no two people have the same.
If I had to guess, based on what you are writing, I think Nice maybe not be the right place. I think you have to be in a city that you like. Like I said, my French husband absolutely hates the south. And, in cities like Strasbourg, things don’t operate as they do in the south. There is more of a German influence, so things are more efficient. My visa applications are processed on time and the prefecture answers emails…something that did not happen when I lived in Paris. People work more seriously and, while it’s not perfect, it’s not like what you are describing.
Here’s what I do when I’m stuck on something. I say to myself, “Ok, let’s give it six months. I’m going to change my attitude and give it everything I got. I’m going to try to like it here.” Then, if after, six months, nothing changes, I walk away. If it’s better, I give it another six months. And reevaluate.
I’ve used this strategy a number of times and it’s worked for me. I’ve accepted that some places are not for me and I’m not obligated to like living somewhere. Some places just suck and it’s ok to feel like that.
I would also think about what drew you to France. And why you wanted to live here. Is it meeting your expectations or are you totally just done with it? If you were offered a job in Spain or Italy tomorrow would you pack up and leave right away?
I don’t know if that helps in any way. I’m always here to bounce ideas off of. I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve felt the same at various points.