- They honestly, truly believe their nation is the best in the world when it comes to language, food and culture. There is, admittedly, a lot to be said for the latter two. Bad French food is much more disappointing than bad English food, which is sort of to be expected and when it is halfway decent people go a bit crazy for it. I suppose Paris is the only city in the world where sometimes I think I should just say fuck it to my ethics and eat some steak. Apart from if I went to Japan where there was Kobi beef but I secretly suspect that if I went to Japan I probably would eat Kobi beef (shh).
- French women over 60 dress so incredibly well they put everyone else to shame. They somehow develop these outrageous levels of style whilst everyone else is realising being comfy isn't so overrated. And they look so fabulous you forget the greying hair and encroaching wrinkles because they're wearing skintight leopard print trousers and heeled leather knee high boots and it looks amazing. Seriously.
- French people rarely display strong emotions at gigs, or dance in any way that could potentially cause harm to their fellow gig goers. They just like to nod their head and bob a bit, which is a lot less painful, but also makes it a lot harder to get bands to come out for encores. I'm forced to retract this comment for Metronomy at Solidays, but everywhere else I've been strangely disappointed that I've gone home without one of my limbs realigned.
- 'I have a boyfriend' doesn't work if you're trying to get out of a date. Nor does 'I live with him'. A Frenchman will just say: 'It's okay, we don't have to tell him.'
- ...Which leads to: It's perfectly okay for people in high positions to have affairs. Whilst in the UK and the US, they'd probably be shamed out of their job faster than you can say Monica Lewinsky, the moment it's revealed Mr X is having an affair, it's okay, because Mrs X is too *coughNicolasSarkozy&CarlaBrunicough*.
- All French people eat bread all the time and aren't fat:
Me: I always feel really sorry for fat French people because there are so few of them.
H: Yes, me too. We say it must be their glands.
Anywhere else in the world, it is not your glands, you should just get off your lazy arse, stop stuffing Ladurée macaroons and go to the gym. In France, it's apparently down to the fact that even as children, they regularly eat three decent, well balanced meals a day and don't snack.
- Cheese before dessert, not dessert before cheese. This actually makes a lot more sense: Savoury, sweet, not savoury, sweet, savoury.
- Granny shopping trolleys aren't just for grannies: They're for shopping. Which sort of makes sense when you live on the 6th floor and don't have a lift.
- Everything closes at lunchtime, even important stuff like banks and the CPAM office. For over an hour. I always wonder: What can they be doing for an hour and a half, training monkeys to ride bicycles? And even if they don't close, each individual takes AT LEAST an hour for lunch, which they will never, ever eat sitting at their desks, and will usually involve a glass of wine.
- Men double bisou on the cheek. It's super cute, especially if they are quite old.
- French people very rarely get lairy and drunk and fight in the street, especially French girls and even after football matches #Euro2012
- In France, it's okay to eat baby cows and horses and torture geese for their livers.
- Someone once told me that there are only 3,000 taxis in Paris. Although I can't really put a huge amount of faith in my source, this is probably not so far from the truth, as it is actually impossible to get a taxi between last and first Métro, even if you bribe them with jellybabies. I have also never figured out the taxi light system, as they have stopped for me with one green light, one red light and two red lights. So I make sure to jump in the road and wave like a loon whenever I see one coming, just in case.
- Most €2 French wine is substantially better than £10 UK wine.
- The homeless people smell worse than in any other city I have visited in the world ever. This includes a lot of Asia, where it is a lot hotter, often dirtier, and their care system for homeless people is a lot less helpful.
- French people love puffer jackets and Longchamp bags. I think these should all be put on a collective bonfire and burnt, the energy from which would probably power a small African country for a few years.
- There is no Topshop. Even French people are confused by this. Even Topshop workers in England are confused by this. There are even five Topshops in Indonesia. And ones in Brazil. The Bahamas. Brazil. Lebanon. Malaysia. Chile. Et al.
- People actually buy coffee from McDonalds. I can sort of forgive going to Starbucks because they have all the syrups and comfy chairs and those nice caramel waffles you're supposed to stick on the top of your coffee mug so they go all melt-y, but coffee from McDonalds is like going to Rome and eating nothing but Pizza Hut and 99p Mr Whippys.
- The women get very naked in gym changing rooms. I'm no prude, but they even neglect to put anything on whilst drying their hair. And cutting their toenails. The latter of which really should be something to do in the privacy of your own bathroom.
- Everyone pretends they hate French TV and say it is really trashy, yet know the entire storyline of Secret Story.
- Everyone takes the entire month of August off and goes to the south of France. Paris is literally emptied of Parisians throughout this entire period, and the French actually look pained when you tell that your old job in England gave you 14 days for the entire year. Then they go on strike if someone tries to tell them they can't take this many holidays. And they win.
- During the French strikes of 1995, there was no SCNF, no Métro, no post and no teachers. The railway workers went on strike partially because they lost the right to retire at 55. People had to hitchhike to go to work. Public support remained with the strikers. This puts any London TfL strikes to shame.
- Everything dubbed from British or American TV is just painful to watch. Especially Ross and Chandler from friends, who sound a lot like they've hit each other repeatedly on the head with golf clubs. And, as I discovered today, Jessica Fletcher, from Murder She Wrote ('Arabesque' in French - why??), who sounds like a drag queen.
- Some French people are still genuinely surprised when you tell them about the stereotype of French people wearing stripy tops with moustaches on bicycles smoking cigarettes and carrying a baguette under their arm. But this really does happen.
Blek le Rat: Les artistes des rues Francais sont bien pittoresques et on peut bien les imaginer avec un béret, une baguette de pain sous le bras et une cigarette qui pend au coin de la bouche.
- Paris, Je T'Aime doesn't lie: You really shouldn't even make eye contact with someone on the Métro before they will probably stalk you.