10 Common Myths or Stereotypes about French Men - Talk in French
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10 Common Myths or Stereotypes about French Men

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Do you know the French men as much as you think you do? Whether you’re already living in France or planning a visit any time soon, knowing some of the common myths about them will give you better insight.

We all have our opinions and beliefs about what French men are like. But are they true or just myths? Find out below as we list down and investigate ten myths about France’s male population.

1. French men are arrogant and rude

When travelers were polled with a question of who are the rudest people in the world, guess who came out on top?

Yes, the French did.

While travelers love and adore Paris, apparently, it’s not the same case for its people. Stay a week or more in Paris and you will more likely encounter a rude French man or two, but that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone else.

French men come off as rude not because they are inherently that way but because of the language barrier and cultural differences. Take for instance interrupting while someone else is still talking. That is deemed rude in other countries but, in France, that’s just the way it is. The French just tend to talk over one another and they also love to defend themselves. While that comes off as arrogant to many, defending your stance or belief in any argument is a character trait that is considered strong in the country.

The Verdict: PARTLY TRUE, PARTLY MYTH

2. French men smoke a lot

Sure, some French men are perpetual smokers with a cigarette always on their hands, but that doesn’t justify the stereotype that majority, if not all, French men are heavy smokers.

When talking about countries with the most smokers or highest cigarette annual consumption, France is not even on the top 10 list. Instead those who topped the notorious list are its neighbors including Russia, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria. In 2013, cigarette sales dropped by 7.6%—that’s about 4 billion less cigarettes than the previous year. The significant decrease is attributed to French turning to electronic cigarette smoking instead. According to a recent survey, about 7.7 million French people are now using e-cigarettes on a daily basis.

To further debunk the myth, let’s bring in some statistics into the picture. In terms of the number of cigarettes smoked by each adult per year, Serbia comes out the champion with 2,869 followed closely by Bulgaria with 2,822 then Greece with 2,795 and Russia with 2,786. We could go and on but we wouldn’t see France until rank 59th. France’s consumption is 854 per adult annually. Compared with the top ranks, it’s considerably lower which means people should just stop caricaturing the French people as the epitome of smoking public.

The Verdict: MYTH

3. French men stink

Whoever started the myth that French men stink was just jealous. Ha! We all know how the French are known for their kisses, culinary masterpieces, intellect and exceptional romantic xxxx. Now, who wouldn’t covet that?

Seldom, if not at all, will you encounter a Parisian that smells bad. In fact, they are some of the few breeds in the world who look clean and smell the part too.

But just for the sake of argument, the idea that the French smell can probably be associated with the people’s smoking habit and fondness for aromatic wine, cheeses and food. Cigarette smoke is sure smelly as well as some cheeses with strong aroma that other people aren’t used to.

The Verdict: MYTH

4. French men are too lazy

When five Nobel laureates call an entire nation lazy, does that make the stereotype true? Maybe not, maybe yes…But they at least have their basis, right?

Now the question that begs to be answered… What made them label the French as too lazy, work-shy, inefficient and unmotivated?

From an economic standpoint, French men are deemed lazy because they get paid high wages but they only worked three hours a day. That observation, or more like a rant, is from a US tire company chief executive delivered to France’s industry minister in a letter. In that same letter, the executive further criticized that the French have one hour for breaks and lunch, three hours for work and three hours for chitchats. Put that way, that does sound like French men are indeed lazy.

But don’t go making any conclusions just yet.

On another end of the spectrum are claims that French men are, in fact, among the most efficient and productive people in the world. They may work fewer hours than most developed nations but the country’s economy and high standard of living may be proof that productivity is also part of the people’s work ethic. Despite the 16% less in working hours, France still manages to stay on par with its neighbors.

The Verdict: PARTLY TRUE, PARTLY MYTH

5. French men are incredible lovers and kissers

Aside from the iconic Eiffel Tower, what is France famous for? The world famous, amorous French kiss, of course. Not only is it considered a timeless gesture of affection but it is also dubbed as the most passionate kisses there is. Kissing in France is more than an act. It is an art form that French men more than willingly and happily indulge even in public.

With that in mind, there is truth to the myth that French men are great lovers and kissers. It doesn’t imply that they are above the rest though, just that they are really expressive and passionate when it comes to romanticism and showing love.

The Verdict: TRUE or not???? ( I am French so I am biaised)

6. French men routinely have several lovers

Given the world’s presumption that the French have some God-given sex appeal and talent for romance, it seems logical to believe the myth that French men’s favorite sport other than football is having several lovers or mistresses at the same time.

But is it really true?

For the sake of comparison, let’s see how the French fared compared with their neighbors. After the highly trivialized and publicized affair of President François Hollande, a poll was conducted throughout Europe. With 55% of males confirming they’ve had sexual affairs with other people other than the one they’re in a relationship with, the verdict points to the French and Italian men as top philanderers. Following French and Italian men behind are the Brits at 42%.

The poll seems to confirm the age old myth. Yes, French men are indeed notorious philanderers. Even though 45% of men in France remain faithful to their lady loves and wives, the majority are still committing the crime of juggling two or maybe even more lovers at the same time.

The Verdict: TRUE

7. French men drink wine all the time

Given that France produces many of the world’s finest wines, it’s safe to presume that its people also drink lots of them. You are wrong to presume that.

There’s no denying the fact that though French men are considered rude, arrogant and snobs, they are also the world’s best wine connoisseurs. When they drink their wines, they do it like it’s an art. They do it slow, with care and much love. That doesn’t make today’s French men avid wine drinkers though.

Back in 1980, the French people love to drink their wines with meals. In fact, 50% of the population drinks it every day while 30% drink it once or twice a week. Fast forward 30 decades later, the number has significantly decreased to 17% drinking everyday and 45% drinking once or twice a week. It goes to show that lifestyles in France have changed. And riding along in that change are French men not drinking as much wine as the previous generations do.

The Verdict: FALSE

8. French men love arts more than sports

Just because French men have a fondness for art doesn’t mean they love it more than sports. French men are simply well rounded people. Sports, in reality, are very much a part of the country’s cultural heritage. It has a long history that goes way back and some of the most popular that the French go crazy about are tennis, football, cycling, rugby, handball and basketball.

If Americans consider sports their religion, so does many of France’s male species. Two of the most popular sports events that happen in the country every year are the French Open and Tour de France. The country’s national football team has also nabbed a number of awards and recognitions at the World Cup or FIFA, a clear indication of the people’s love affair with sports.

The Verdict: MYTH

9. French Men are effeminate

This is another myth with an ounce of truth to it. If Americans are strong, masculine and tend to prefer hard labor jobs, French men are effeminate. This is not to say that there are no masculine French men. It’s just that the country’s culture encourages the men to embrace their feminine side more openly.

In America, men showing their feminine side are considered gay or weak. In France, it’s another story altogether which is why French men are more vocal about their love for art and romance. Wearing pink shirts in public is common. Even more common is kissing each other on the cheek. It is, in fact, a cultural expectation.

The Verdict: TRUE

10. French men hate Americans

In the same manner that Americans criticize French men, French men also do their own criticizing of Americans and other nationalities. They would even go as far as using Americans as the butt of their jokes. Its witty humor that may be seen as hostile or sarcastic but it is what it is – a joke designed to elicit laughter for those who understand it. These kinds of puns or humor shouldn’t be construed as hatred because French men do not hate Americans. In fact, many of the younger generations even dream of going and living in America.

So yes, it’s foolish to think that there is some kind of hatred going on between these two male breeds. Dislike is a more appropriate word if we are going to tackle political differences and issues. But that’s a topic too broad and sensitive to be discussed thoroughly here. For now, we’ll just settle with French and Americans enjoying banters and heated debates against each other from time to time.

The Verdict: FALSE

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What do you think of the list? Do you agree or do you have more French men myths to add? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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About the Author Frederic

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +

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