France Facts & Trivia: 10 Things Foreigners Should Know

by Facts From Locals Worldwide, France29 comments

France holds a special place in my heart, especially since it is one of the first countries abroad that I have traveled to. With that in mind, I bet that a lot of people have this country high up on their bucket lists — which comes as no surprise because France is the kind of destination that can easily attract travelers, what with its art de vivre (art of living), grand culture, sweeping landscapes, charming cafe terraces, intricate architecture, and many other attractive features. (France Facts)

However, what not a lot of people know is that there’s more to France than Paris, that there are several notions that are not true about the French… and so on, and so forth.

What to Do in France…?

Come and check out this list of the top things to do in France which features the best activities and tours to do in places like Paris, Lyon, and more!

Surely I have met a lot of French people and am friends with some, but I feel that I’m in no place to tell you the real facts about their country and culture because it’s a whole lot better to hear it from a local! Hence, I have invited Anne to give you some of the top 10 France facts that you should know about her home country.

Bio & Intro

What Doesnt Suck

My name is Anne and I am a French-born and brought-up expat, currently living in (the beautiful and unique city of) Dubai.

I am the co-founder of the blog: What Doesn’t Suck, a refreshingly honest and joyfully offensive travel and lifestyle guide, that aims to provide tips and funny stories without all the nonsense.

For my home country, certainly, when people think of France or Paris, a few words come always to their minds: the French girls, croissants, baguettes, snails, “rude” or maybe beret.

You will be surprised to find out that a lot of cliches and ideas about France and the French are actually far from reality…

France Facts & Trivia

1. France is NOT just about Paris

Place Massena Square, Nice

When a French person is from the “Province” (outside Paris), they might equally, if not be more proud, of their city and when people assume that they are from Paris — just because they heard them say bonjour — is always kind of annoying.

There are many beautiful cities in France, some of which are Lyon, Biarritz or Nice, so don’t hesitate to step out of Paris once in a while because you will be surprised!

2. A typical French breakfast is NOT what you think it is

Traditional French Breakfast

A French breakfast is always seen as the classic dark and strong coffee with a croissant or pain au chocolat.

While this is true for breakfasts “on the go” and usual romantic breakfasts with your new lover; however, big families tend to not have croissants since they’re more on cereal, bread, jam, or fruits. But, the baguette myth is absolutely true!

If you walk in any city around 12pm, you will see tens if not hundreds of people carrying a baguette for lunch. This is tradition and must not be criticized.

3. French people are NOT rude

Colmar, France

People tend to think the French are generally rude. Like everywhere else, even if some are, we are not ALL rude.

However we do lack English-speaking skills, which means some people have a limited way to communicate with strangers, and this can be seen as rude. For example, a waiter in Paris might only know basic English words relative to his job, so he would not be able to ask you about your day, where are you from or what did you think of the food.

4. Some things are NOT really from France nor are they ‘French’

Belgian Fries

So many things are so-called “French” in English but they are truly not.

For example, French toast was born in Austria (and we call it “pain perdu”, meaning “lost bread” — don’t ask), French fries are from Belgium, a French escape is called in French: an Italian escape.

There are so many things that are supposedly French things but are not from France at all, and we sometimes have no idea that they’re supposed to, resulting in some awkward conversations with foreign people who assume we “French kiss” everything that moves!

5. The French language is incredibly complicated

French Language

This is a fact, and as a result, many French people don’t actually know how to spell properly. French expressions sometimes make no sense, and the use of gender confuses most English natives.

For example, a chair will be feminine, while a stool is definitely masculine. “Tu as un poil dans la main”, meaning “You have a hair in your hand” means “You’re lazy” — and so on and so forth.

So… good luck to everyone learning French!

6. French girls are NOT hairy or dirty, compared to some old clichés

French Girls

For some reason, the French are supposedly classy and elegant YET hairy and smell awful.

While I don’t really understand the paradox, I can assure you French girls aren’t hairier nor do they smell worse than your average American or Finnish girl. In France, we actually do have this same cliché about other countries, namely Germany and Portugal, but I’m sure that’s not a fact either.

7. We use various pronouns to address others

French Conversation

In French, we use different pronouns to address a friend and a person we don’t know or older than you. It’s a way to be polite and even though everyone will forgive a non-native French speaker for making a mistake, it’s usually not ideal to call your French father-in-law “Tu” as you would call your best friend.

Instead, use “vous” and the according verbs…. Once again, good luck.

8. French are kind of lazy

Girl with Laptop: Paris, France

French people are known to be lazy around the world.

But while we do have a 35 hours work week maximum and we do strikes A LOT, France is actually the 4th most productive country in Europe, ahead of the UK and Germany!

I guess you can say that though we don’t work hard, we work smart.

9. The French have a particular humour

Friends & Laughter

Such is true to a certain extent. We do enjoy, for the most part, dry and sometimes offensive humor, similar to the UK for example.

But I can understand that some American people can find it a little bit inappropriate, but we just try to not take ourselves too seriously!

10. French people can be extremely proud

France Facts: Nationalism

While we are usually the first ones to criticize France, our government, and our fellow Frenchies, we do not allow anyone who isn’t French to do the same.

I have the right to say the French are annoying and that I am not a fan of Paris, but don’t you dare!

• • •

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• • •

France Facts

Overall

If you’re from France like Anne, do you agree with the 10 France facts that she wrote about your country? Maybe you have something to add too?

Sure enough, most of these facts are things that I have either learned from my French friends or have confirmed from my travels to France. So for the foreign Francophiles out there, I hope this helped educate you about a thing or two of the country that you’ve come to love.

• • •

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29 Comments

  1. Maria Resa

    You should add fact too that FRENCH MEN ARE SCAMMERS! I had bf French but he fooled me, took my money and left with another pinay for me!
    I also had freind who has same experience! Tarantado, na buang na jud!

    Reply
    • Franck

      Uyyyyyyy ! Dont call us all buang na! I’ll give you your moneh back. Dont be mad na.

      Reply
  2. Alice

    I’m french and all of this is soo true:)

    Reply
    • Aileen

      Haha, happy to hear that! My guest post writer was French herself ;) glad to learn this all!

      Reply
  3. Hitesh Kamble

    Thank you so much Aileen Adalid
    After reading your post I get to learn new things about France.
    So Thank you for sharing the post,

    Reply
    • Aileen

      I’m glad you like it!

      Reply
  4. Lorna

    Ooh this series is great! I love getting more of a glimpse into other cultures. :)

    My favourite is the part about everyone carrying a baguette for lunch – if I lived in France I would absolutely do the same. Baguettes are *amazing*. It’s a shame they never seem to taste the same outside of France.

    Reply
    • Aileen

      I agree with you on that! Somehow, French bread (or even Belgian bread for example) just don’t taste the same once you’re outside of the place — which totally makes sense of course haha but sometimes I just wish the taste remains or gets copied perfectly in other places.

      Reply
  5. Rohit

    Travel is my passion and love travelling. I have taken trips with family, friends and solo. I like your blog and all your post. Waiting to see more from you.

    Reply
    • Aileen

      Thank you, Rohit!

      Reply

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