When I told my English companions that I was going to relocate to France, naturally they had lots of opinions about the French and France. Funny thing is, most of the positive opinions were about France and not the French. This did trouble me a little although nothing they said was serious enough to make me change my mind. Besides, the two nations will always have their historic feud.
The list of condemnations was as long as my arm but I’ll condense it to these few. The French are rude, filthy, lazy and the common myth that they don’t shower on Sundays – not flattering at all. On the other hand, France as a country scored quite high on that regard. It was deemed as beautiful, scenic, with nice food and weather (such a plus compared to rainy grey days in UK).
Eventually I was able to judge for myself when I arrived in France. The English summation of their French friends did not quite add up. I found out that they are super polite, especially when it comes to salutations. I first noticed this with passengers on the bus. I was taken aback by how they made sure to shout ‘merci’ and ‘au revoir’, even if they were at the end of the bus and that risked shouting to the top of their lungs so that the bus driver would hear them. The greetings are equally important everywhere. God forbid if you disturb the supermarket shelf stacker to ask for a product, before saying ‘bonjour‘! Truth is, you wouldn’t even get served. So you better go home, refresh your manners and maybe we’ll resume that discussion. Voilà! The French really love their salutations. There is even one which translates to ‘good end of the day’ or ‘good end of the evening’ – now that just cracks me up.
So there you go. They shower, say hello and thank you after all. Oui, c’est vrai!