False French Stereotypes
The stereotypes, true or not, usually define the character of Parisians. For some reason Paris seems to be the center of style, fashion and stereotypes. People either love or hate this city. We have already talked about stereotypes that are more or less true. If you haven’t seen our list, it’s better to read it first, then come back here.
Despite that, we have another list of stereotypes that are not true. Keep them in mind and don’t let them to get in the way of you and the thrilling city of Paris. Ready, set, go!
Stereotype #1 – French or non-French?
Although we have talked about the arrogance of the French, we haven’t really touched upon the concept of French and non-French. When speaking about this nation, you’ll hear people saying “French know only two nationalities: French and non-French.”
This statement is way too straightforward and is not really true. Parisians are proud of their culture (and who wouldn’t be with the Louvre, great wines, and the rest of wonders?), their history, and heritage . . . but isn’t every nation so? Armenians are proud because they’re one of the most ancient nations on the Earth, Russians are proud because they have won the Nazis, Americans are proud for their democracy and world influence… I could go on like this forever.
Parisians actually do care where you come from. Yes, they have specific attitude towards some cultures like German, English, etc, but they will judge you objectively, if you’re worth it.
Stereotype #2 – Paris is the capital of fashion.
When speaking about fashion, true fashion, like haute couture, we automatically think about Paris. Somehow we are assured that if a person is from Paris, he or she understands fashion, and so on. This is number one shock tourists encounter when they walk in the city for the first time.
Parisians wear what they think is comfortable, and comfortable doesn’t always mean fashionable. Paris has played an important role in the history of Paris, but the WWII period caused other cities like London and New York to catch up.
However, you will find dozens of designer shops (Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Chanel, etc.) in the Parisian Golden Triangle, which stretches between the key points of Avenue des Champs Elysées, Avenue Montaigne and Avenue Georges V. It’s very similar to another mystical triangle, Bermuda: when you enter the zone, your money vanishes mysteriously.
Stereotype # 3 – Parisians and frog-legs.
You will find a big variety of strange dishes in Paris, that’s their traditional cuisine, and you can’t do anything about it. I have no idea if anyone non-Parisian would ever think of making frog-legs for dinner that day, but you can be sure that it’s definitely not the case in Paris.
You can find a restaurant that serves frog-legs and give it a try, but you can also order pizza, get some hamburgers, or cook a meal at home (like most of Parisians do).
Besides, lots of nations eat cockroaches, dogs, horses, monkey brains . . . it’s the world of humans and everything is possible in it.
Stereotype # 4 – All Parisians wear berets.
This is the image of a Parisian, a skinny tall woman with a beret. Ironically, you will hardly see any berets in Paris now. There is a possibility that the reason why Parisians don’t wear berets is the current fashion trends, the slaves of which are almost all nations. Maybe one day berets will be so trendy, the whole Paris will start wearing them.
Until then, if you bought a beret to specially wear in Paris, it will be number one indicator that you’re a foreigner. In any case, I personally love berets, and if you like them, wear them, no matter in what city you are in.
Stereotype # 5 – The French smell bad.
I have no idea where did this gossip come from. The French, and especially Parisians, shower every single day. Therefore, there can’t be a word about smelling bad.
Stereotype # 6 – French women don’t shave their armpits.
This stereotype is a very controversial one. On the one hand, it’s quite popular when people speak about the French ladies, on the other hand, French ladies are considered to be the most attractive ones. So, men should really think twice before believing or spreading this kind of news. If a girl tells you about this stereotype, chances are she’s just jealous.
Although it’s impossible to speak about the origins, I guess there was once only one Parisian woman who didn’t have time to shave her armpits that day and wore an open-cut dress. Other than that, the vast majority of Parisian women follow the rules of hygiene.
This was pretty much about it. If you hear another interesting stereotype you want to discuss or, in the worst case, warn the travel community about it, you’re more than welcome to share it. Most importantly, remember that if you want to see Paris, don’t let silly stereotypes and myths change your mind. Few of them are true to some extent, but the rest are very dubious and not recommended for believing. Keep your intercultural mind open and have a great time in Paris.