10 Things I Learned From Living In France For Fourteen Years

The following is a guest post from Finn Skovgaard, a writer from Denmark.

France is one of those countries everyone has an opinion about, and which has spawned many stereotypes: the French are eternal seducers, lazy, speak only French (so fast that no one else can understand it), and drive like the Italians, just to mention a few. But, hand on your heart, how much do you really know about the French that you haven’t just heard in clichés? And, since you’re reading Roosh’s site, you may well ask yourself if you’ll ever stand a chance against the army of romantic French seducers Hollywood will have you believe are omnipresent.

Un. Etiquette – or not

Don’t waste your time and money on snob etiquette guides like the one recently promoted in the Telegraph, unless you will be banging high society. As you will see in the readers’ comments, many British expats in France have torn it to pieces. You’ll only make yourself look ridiculous, stuffy, and old-fashioned if you try to behave as described in what could look like a retired diplomat’s guide. Other guides may be better, but travel guides have a tendency to stick to old-fashioned stereotypes that tell you very little about modern life in France.

The young, typically under 30, are fairly easygoing and nothing like the old president Charles de Gaulle stereotype, head tilted towards his backside, looking upwards towards the top of the Eiffel Tower in superiority. The last president of the grandeur de la France generation was Jacques Chirac, who stepped down in 2007, replaced by the dynamic and modern Nicolas Sarkozy. A similar change of character has taken place amongst ordinary Frenchmen, at least outside the snob circles.

Every guide book will tell you to say vous, not tu, and to address people as Monsieur or Madame Poubelle, or whatever their surname, but the young generation is no longer like that, and will quickly use tu and first names. The young Internet generation doesn’t have the obsession that English is a menace to the French Republic, though the miserable French schooling system doesn’t give them much of a chance to learn it. Hence, the more French you speak, the better, and don’t hesitate to use what you know. The main thing is not how much French you know but that you approach them in their language.

Deux. Indirect Conversation

Once the introduction is done, you can get a conversation flowing in French, English, Franglais, or whatever. Using two languages always gives the possibility of getting some conversation going by simply explaining words, concepts, and differences. If you’re American, you’ll probably find that although the French are always ready to criticize the US in public, many of them secretly admire and envy its power and success regardless of the economic crisis ravaging even the US.

France is a country with a Latin culture, and it is expected that you ‘sell’ yourself and talk about your exceptional experiences and personality, contrary to Denmark, where you have to present yourself as modest, one out of the grey mass, as Roosh found out to his horror in Don’t Bang Denmark.

You need to be aware that the French often talk indirectly, in complete contrast with the more direct American way. Let’s stereotype a bit and ask for the salt:

US: “Salt, please.”

UK: “I’m terribly sorry, but I wonder if you would possibly allow me to ask you to be so kind as to pass me the salt, please.”

France: “I’d say a bit more salt would perhaps have brought out more of the flavor in this dish.”

The French will not always tell you in direct terms what they want. They have a tendency to speak in diplomatic and indirect phrases. You may need to continue the thoughts of the girl and figure out ‘so what would a woman want in this situation?’ I deliberately omitted the word ‘logical’ since—as most men know—a logical woman is an oxymoron. Look carefully for innuendos too.

Trois. Latin pride and secrecy

You will rarely hear a Frenchman admit he made a mistake, and even more rarely apologize for a mistake. According to the Latin roots of French culture, that would be seen as a weakness. If a retailer has goofed, and if you manage to convince him that he needs to compensate for it, the retailer will in most cases call the compensation a “commercial gesture.” The intention is to avoid losing face. Note the indirect element of this type of communication. Never mind that the example uses a retailer; this is the way the French think.

As well as saying things indirectly, the French are often minimalistic about the information they give out, as if there were a secret police waiting in hiding to arrest anyone who said too much. When you live in France for a long time like me, you notice a stark contrast with a country like the UK where the government makes a large number of informative and detailed leaflets available to people to explain administrative procedures and your rights and duties. Not so in France.

In the not so far past, French administrative documents used to be secret. Before the Internet started gaining acceptance in France, something that happened several years later than in the English-speaking world, it was very difficult to find such government documentation. The Internet has certainly helped, but even governmental information sites are still often incomplete.

I know you’re unlikely to be interested in French government, but I tell you this because governments are made up of people, so they function the way the people think. Many young women work in the civil service, so you will meet them in the Paris nightlife anyway. Talking about the French civil service, the concept promotion de canapé (sofa promotion) refers to the way some of these attractive young women get promoted. Before Jacques Chirac became president of France, he was mayor of the Paris city hall where he was known as tonton braguette (uncle zipper) among the young secretaries because of his womanizing. I was told this by a former city hall secretary. Money and power attracts bangs in France—forget about political correctness.

The French care a great deal about their privacy, and it can look like something close to an obsession the way some of them value every single bit of information as if it were something that could put them in prison. Withholding information and speaking indirectly are both a type of diplomatic behavior that can require great communication skills to match. Don’t try to wiggle out of a debate that is getting too complicated for you with a silly joke or pun as you would in a British pub. It will neither be understood nor appreciated.

Quatre. French Humor

Another minefield is humor, sarcasm, and irony. Forget everything you know about American and British humor. What I just said is indirect language for ‘avoid humor until you understand French humor, whatever that is.’ I’m still not sure after 14 years in France.

The French tend to take things more literally and seriously, and will not catch British subtleties. It may seem contradictory that they take things literally, since I just said they speak indirectly, but what they would take literally is their interpretation of what you just said, after a diplomatic decoding, if necessary. The French diplomatic decoding does not work the same way as the British decoding of subtleties. As you can see, this can become extremely complicated, so watch your step. Try to avoid complicated subjects unless you know what you’re doing.

So what is French humor? Imitations of politicians seem to amuse the French, particularly when someone has goofed, like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who took his womanizing too far. Sexism and immature jokes about sex are also popular on French TV, typically in the form of a discussion panel of all men except for one attractive young woman with big ‘attributes.’ Actors making silly faces and acting in an exaggerated way, like Louis de Funès, are popular; not that there are many of them, so the French still laugh at the late de Funès. A French movie is not a real French movie if a few big-busted women don’t bare at least their tops, preferably more. Apart from that, your guess about what French humor is as good as mine.

Let’s end number quatre with a quote by the French Green Card and Cyrano de Bergerac actor Gérard Dépardieu who was once thrown off a plane after peeing in the aisle: “[The British] are people who have a great sense of humor. It is the French who are cretins.” Do yourself a favor and do not repeat that in France.

Cinq. Equality between sexes. Not.

You might wonder if you stand a chance against the stereotyped, romantic French seducer who, in Hollywood productions, always speaks English with an accent like the French singer Charles Aznavour. You certainly have a chance. French men are ordinary guys like you. Forget the stereotype. The difference is simply that they have fewer inhibitions, and they know that gallantry and showing off their advantages still works in France.

Holding a door for a woman is normal in France and won’t earn you an assault like the “I’m a grown-up woman perfectly capable of holding a door myself, you sexist jerk” response followed with the 400-pound lady flattening you against the wall while bulldozing through the door. That is, unless you happen to stumble upon a female American tourist.

French women ask for equal salaries, an end to discrimination, and full equality, just as elsewhere, but in a sense, they want to have their cake and eat it too, since they won’t give up female privileges. It is still widely presumed in France that the man is the main breadwinner. If a woman is talking about her insufficient income, she may well be asked, “but aren’t you married, Madam?” presuming that the man alone earns sufficient money for the family and that the woman’s income is just an optional extra. The equal rights stuff is much more of a façade than in the US, the UK, and the Nordic countries.

Some French women quite openly target guys who have enough money to keep them in comfortable lifestyles without their having to work—outside the bedroom, that is. They have no qualms about this, and they would expect a quite liberal access to the man’s credit card in return for their sexual favors. In a case I know, the man ended up having enough after his girlfriend emptied his credit card account to buy shoes when she should have done the shopping. One day, he moved without telling her in advance or leaving a new address.

Six. All the French are happy about the great French lifestyle. Or?

When you speak to the French, it’s fine to mention the classic advantages of France, gastronomy, nature, art, monuments, and all that. But you don’t want to take this so far as to appear as a naïve teenager who has learnt his tourist guide by heart. As an adult, you know there is a backside of the medal, and while you don’t need to highlight the negative parts, it’s no good to pretend they don’t exist.

Before bursting out how happy the girl must be to live in such a great country, take some time to make her talk about how happy or not she is herself to avoid stereotyping her. Many French are truly happy about their lifestyle, but many others are faced with problems such as the 10% unemployment, the financial crisis, unsuitable housing, 7 million living in poverty, and so on. Others may be stuck in the Kafkaesque and sometimes corrupt French administration or justice, struggling with favoritism and lack of humanity in the way they are treated.

I have never seen so many depressed people as in France. The hard statistics make France rank third in suicide rates in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand after Finland and Belgium. The rate is twice as high for French farmers. A survey comparing France, the UK, Germany and Italy placed France as the largest consumer of antidepressants. The background for this is partially a paternalistic state that meddles in everything people do, leaving less individual and financial freedom than in many other western countries. France is what many Americans would call a ‘socialist paradise’.

There is no need to take the initiative to talk about negative subjects, but if the girl starts, some compassion and understanding will be well received. You don’t have to suggest a lot of solutions, although you don’t risk much by suggesting that politicians are incompetent idiots everywhere. Women simply like someone lending them an ear.

Sept. Ze Lazy French

The French are perceived as lazy, but is it true? Yes and no. In private companies, the French seem as productive as elsewhere, but in the civil service and semi-public companies, the lifestyle may be more laid-back with long and numerous coffee and chatting breaks, and long lunch hours. Among the unemployed, many turn down job offers if they are not the perfect jobs. To their defense, it has to be said that because of the reduction of social allowances, if they start working, they may end up earning almost the same as if they didn’t work, and in some cases, they will earn less. So long as the state pays them for not working, and so long as working more doesn’t really improve their situation, why work?

For the French youth seeking employment, three out of four consider a civil servant career attractive. The only reason for that is that it’s a job for life where it’s impossible to be laid off, and where they don’t have to work too hard. You won’t find many aiming for the sky. Everything and everybody have to fit into pre-defined ‘boxes,’ and there is no ‘box’ for unconventional people. The French business culture is quite the opposite of the US.

Capitalism, profit, privatization, and globalization are dirty words in France. The French have been brainwashed by their politicians to believe that free markets are the root of all evil attacking the French lifestyle, and that turning the clock back to the 1950s and closing the borders would solve all their problems. Hence, the French are scared to death about the future and any change. All the French political parties support a big, all-controlling state and its corporatism.

Huit. Rules are there to be broken

While the French want a big state to take care of them, they don’t like to abide by its rules. It’s difficult to write about France without including some clichés, so it’s quote time again:

In England, everything is permitted, except what’s prohibited.

In Germany, everything is prohibited, except what’s permitted.

In France, everything is permitted, even what’s prohibited.

In the USSR, everything is prohibited, even what’s permitted.

-Winston Churchill

The French would not appreciate a word as direct as cheating, but whatever they call it, that’s their national sport. If they see their opportunity to steal something without being caught, they don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s part of their mentality. There is no social stigma associated with cheating even if caught. That was just bad luck, as when someone snatches a parking space just before you.

Stealing and cheating is a God-given right in France. The French have many rights but few duties. They have a right to spend more than they earn. They have a right to a comfortable life, five weeks paid vacation, strikes, long lunch breaks, long weekends, blockades, making mistakes, or at least that is how the French perceive things. The trouble is that honesty often doesn’t pay in France. Another problem is that French politicians are just as dishonest as everybody else and regularly involved in scandals, so they set a bad example.

I think he [Dominique Strauss-Kahn] is a bit like all the French, a bit arrogant. Besides, I don’t really like the French.”

Gérard Dépardieu, March 2012.

 — Fin

‘Hey, wait a minute,’ I suppose you’ll say now, ‘there are only eight points. You said ten things you’ve learned in France! You’re cheating!’

My reply: never trust that what you get has anything to do with the promises in France. The French cheat. That’s how it is, and that’s how it’s always going to be. WYSINWYG is a main rule in France.

Finn Skovgaard has been a Danish1) expat since 1993 and lived in England1), Luxembourg1), Germany1), and since 1998 in France1). A former IT specialist, Finn has worked in freelance writing, web editing, translation, relocation service, and tourism the last ten years. Finn is the author of Streetwise-France.com, a practical guide to living, working, and traveling in France, and the French Page and the Danish Page with sarcastic and critical views, the latter confirming Roosh’s very negative experiences in Denmark, as described in his book Don’t Bang Denmark.

1) Explanation for American readers: Denmark, England, Luxembourg, Germany, and France are European countries. They live in houses and apartments, not mud huts, and they have refrigerators, cars, and computers.

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This is so awesome that Finn is posting on Roosh. I have been a big fan of his long before I knew about Roosh – he showed me that I wasn’t alone or crazy with having bad experiences with Denmark.

KL
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KL
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There are two separate points labelled “quatre” (four).

SunshineSunshineSunshine
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Ze French call it DOUBLEVISION.

louis
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louis
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Im an French expat in Asia, and we Frenchmen do have a terrible reputation abroad. So its pretty cool to see what foreigners see beyond that.

I can relate to most of the things Finn wrote, really. Nice article.

(there are 8 points btw, not 7).

MikeA
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From what I hear Asian women are more agreeable to sex than even French women.

lili
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lili
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French women have very good reputation. Each time I’m abroad, I realize that.

MikeA
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MikeA
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French men are known for not changing their underwear.

lili
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lili
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That’s not true. A lot of myth. They change them everyday. I never known a man that didn’t change them every day.

lili
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lili
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The reason why French have terrible reputation, it’s because we have a terrible character. Never satisfied, and always criticizing. I find a lot of French people are not as polite as before, It makes me ashamed.

Phinn
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Phinn
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The British and Americans really are the funniest countries, at least among Westerners. (I have no idea about the humor quotient of non-Western cultures. Japanese humor seems to focus a lot on (a) humiliation and (b) poop. And cracking people on the head, for some reason. If you could humiliate someone by cracking him on the head while pooping on him, you’d have a great career in Japanese comedy.)

Humor is based on inversion, or the reversal of expectations. The British have the most ridiculously developed sense of propriety and decorum (which is all about expectations), covering every aspect of life, so they naturally have the greatest opportunity for inversion. Pretty much everything, all the time.

English also has a lot of flexibility (being a mongrel language) with varied word order. This allows the first part of a phrase to be used as a set up, and the funny part placed at the end as a punchline. Try doing that with German. That’s unpossible!

The French are so fixated on maintaining aloof dignity at all times that their only real opportunity for inversion is to lampoon that which should be exalted. It means that their humor really only boils down to farce and satire, which is sorta funny, but barely. In other words, they take themselves way too fucking seriously.

lili
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lili
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There is a (strong) French humour. But as it’s very different from English humour, it can take some time to get used to.
It’s a very sarcastic and cynical humour.
That’s not true that French takes them too seriously, they likes to laugh of French flaws a lot.

Finn Skovgaard
Guest

Thanks for the good reception, folks. Roosh expected some angry comments. Don’t hold back. I’m used to it. smile

There are indeed two number 4. Just look how sloppy I’ve become by living 14 years in France. This article is almost like having bought a Renault instead of a Mercedes; it breaks down as soon as it leaves the dealership, and you can’t trust anything they tell you.

lili
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lili
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I’m French. I have no problem in criticizing French people (we are open to that), I had more problem on the article about Danish girls, I’ve found it very racist.

ASF
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ASF
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Great writing, highly engaging. Cultural comparisons like this are incredibly interesting to me.

Zorro
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Zorro
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That was a superb post! Michelin travel guides suck in comparison. It was tactful, honest, and not in the least kowtowing to PC stupidity.

This guy has a future as a writer!

Old lady on a bus
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Anybody has Cliffs for that post?

[Roosh: Do you want me to convert this post into a popup picture book so you don’t have to deal with the words?]

Durangotang
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Durangotang
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Excellent write up. Much appreciated.

Tampa
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Tampa
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You didn’t talk about how to bang the chicks?? I was over there a few months ago. Two percetpions I picked up on are that it seems like nobody eats at all. All they do is smoke cigs, drink wine and sit on the sidewalk patios. It was amazing. We’d order dinner and it felt like we were the only ones in the restaurant actually eating.

Also, the chicks are just smoking ass hot. You ride on the metro in paris and it’s like a skinny blonde is a dime a dozen. They are freaking everywhere. Women were just remarkabley hot, feminine and very stylish.

Finally, the general population was just flat out rude. The cops. The store clerks….just freaking rude dude. And i’m not some fat ass American. And the “bonjour” shit gets old. But that’s the way it is.

All in all – i thought the women were hot as hell. The population nice and skinny. The beer too expensive and the food lousy. But Paris in and of itself was just a breathtaking city. I’ll def be back.

MikeA
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I don’t believe you. We found all people to be friendly and helpful, even though we were dumbphucks. My son got laid in Paris big time.

lili
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lili
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Yes, many people now forget to say “bonjour”, that’s a big shame on us.
But always be polite, peole will remember they have to, and will be ashamed.
And also, never forget that Paris people are VERY different from other cities people. In the south, small cities or villages, they are still polite. Parisian people are known, even by the French themselves, to be most impolite people on earth…

Mark
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The issue with French girls is not that they are not attractive, they are.

And not that they have this indirect method of flirting, they do.

It is to meet a French girl who is off the radar and a well developed personal ethic, that is not living in the center of Paris as a waitress hit on by every foreigner and ‘enjoying her life’.

If you can find French women who are ‘off the radar’, and have good morals you will have an interesting life.

You say that the French cheat and it is part of their culture. I am starting to change my mind about that. I think it is the culture of Paris, and the decadent Western European ethic of a humanism not tempered with ethics that are developed independently on a personal level.

If you are going to jettison, traditional ethics like Catholicism in France, you better replace it with a personal ethic. Or else you will find yourself lost and a generation of hipsters glued to their latest gadget using up their ‘free minutes’ on their plan.

I feel many metropolitan French girls are like this but not the ones from the villages.

lili
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lili
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What do you call “good morals”?
That’s true that a lot of girls are cheating now. It wasn’t like that in the past, and it’s a lot of because of the TV influence.

LS
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LS
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I’ve heard the French sense of humour is developed at age 3, and thence it stays. Probably why they so delight in that Jerry Lewis fellow.

lili
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lili
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It was the previous generation. Now, nobody heard of Jerry Lewis, nor likes him.
American people always refer to the past when they talk about France. They like to think that France is still in the 50’s.

The Me Manifesto
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@10

“And the “bonjour” shit gets old.”

That is always a charming way to ingratiate yourself to the locals.

Finn Skovgaard
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@Tampa Don’t confuse me with Roosh. It’s his job to write about banging the chicks. I told him I thought a ‘Bang the Frogs’ book would be a great success. Let’s see if he listens. He must’ve had enough fooling around in the cold and expensive north by now. smile

lili
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lili
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Call French “frogs”, and I don’t think you’ll have many success xD

Durangotang
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@Finn

I certainly hope Roosh does France. I couldn’t think of a country in Europe that I would rather him do next. And if the title isn’t “Bang the Frogs,” which I love, then I will want my money back!

@Roosh
I hope this article is a sign of things to come!

heartiste
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heartiste
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pretty good. this list jibes with what i know of the french. the only french girl i knew who didn’t fit this mold was a slovakian immigrant who moved to france when she was nine.

Senior Beta
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Frost headed that way now. Maybe you guys can compare notes in a few months. Would also like to see a Bang Frog book.

fantastique! merveilleux!
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fantastique! merveilleux!
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simple as that. THe world should be grateful for having Roosh

TheCaptainPower
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Fuk the french. Germany kicked their ass in WWI, AND WWII. And now they are begging the Germans to bail them out….

The French can’t defend themselves and they dont work hard…

But the chicks are hot, I used to work in an airport and AirFrance had hot flight attendents.

captain power

Vlaix
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Vlaix
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We lead the Entente forces and won WWI, fuckwit.

Mark Edens
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Do you even history, bro?

MikeA
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MikeA
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Did you get any? I didn’t think so.

lili
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lili
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Seriously stupid comment. The French can’t defend themselves? It’s pretty obvious you buy into American/British propaganda (the one used for French bashing), but don’t know ANYTHING about French history.
Go and educate yourself. You make yourself like a fool and ignorant.

Brandon
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@ Captain P.

Hell yea, France doesn’t excite me though. Not even the women.

MikeA
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MikeA
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Too much walking and stinky cheese. Too many hairy armpits and stinky crotches.

lili
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lili
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You are a BIG liar. Women shaves their armpits. I know that.

green crayons
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green crayons
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I took weekend long intensive French language course (NYC) a few years ago. When taking a break from verb and adjective congugations, the teacher spoke a bit on culture, namely sex. In France, extramarital affairs- by both husband and wife, is not seen as such a big deal as it is in the USA. Both spouses are allowed to have a “little friend” (petit amie), someone whom he or she has known for years, and they “hook up” a few times during the year. Everyone, friends and family, even the kids know this, but look the other way. In fact, the husband may have a beer with his wife’s long time lover. and the wife may meet and have wine with her husbands’ mistress. they may even confide in each other. I think the trauma of World War Two had an effect on french (Parisian?) society. Some people slept around to survive the occupation. Always take a historical look at how a society came to be the way it is.

Vlaix
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That cliché is absolutely ridiculous, most likely pure fantasy.
Furthermore, there’s not a thing like “trauma of WWII”.

Sugarsail1
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LOL…tell that to the Jews

Sugarsail1
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Sugarsail1
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LOL…tell that to the Jews

lili
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lili
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That’s not true. It’s more hypocritical than that. If you marry a French girl and have a “petite amie”, be prepared to divorce.

You talk like a person who never been in France, and only read clichés things.
Everyone forgot about WWII. Everyone is dead now!
Why American always think France is stuck in the 50’s?

Shawn
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Shawn
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Ask the Irish about Thierry “Le Cheat” Henry’s shenanigans a few years back.

HT
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HT
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The answer to dealing with French snobbiness is to avoid Paris. Nice, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille, Lyon.. the women here are amazing without the Parisian attitude.

Chalk me up as a fan of the French, they are one western country that haven’t forgotten what it means to be a woman. If you are lucky enough to know a little bit of French, you’ll be pretty happy visiting some of these places.

MikeA
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MikeA
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I know a little French. “Voulez vou couche avec moi, mademoiselle?

lili
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lili
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It’s full of mistakes. And if you say that (even without mistakes), they will laugh very very hard, maybe some will find it humourous, but other will think you are insane.

lili
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lili
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Yes, Parisian sucks. But Parisians are only a part of French people. Real French people are everywhere else.

HT
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HT
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Morons like Captain Power aren’t helping the discussion get past French stereotypes btw.

lili
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lili
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And the other moron/troll : MikeA

capote
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capote
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HT,
Nice is located on the French Riviera. It is an incredibly cliquey place and the chicks are very cold unless you are loaded and not afraid to splurge. But tourists in Nice..now that’s a different story altogether.

MikeA
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MikeA
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You can get some American puzzie.

M. Primitive
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M. Primitive
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I lived in Paris for three years, and hit the provinces as well. Finn’s written what I’d consider a dark take on life there; maybe it’s gotten worse since I lived in France.

I’m guessing Finn wants to blow the fairy dust off the stereotypical France that exists in movies and lit major’s wet dreams about the 1920s, which is fine. But, dude, why hang out in France if it’s so annoying for you?

As for the humor — I thought the Frenchies had a fine, dry and often wickedly sarcastic take on things. A lot of the humor derives from word play and puns, too. Maybe wit is a more accurate term than humor. But if you didn’t bring some to the table, you were looked on as sort of stupid. Anyway, I made jokes. They were polite enough to laugh.

Speaking the language helps. Just like anyplace, you’ll have more opportunities. The French have a near reverence for their own language, so you get extra bonus points beyond being able to, like, actually talk with someone. A lot of the time, they wanted to practice their English on me, so you may have to insist on speaking your verion of French.

The bureaucracy is truly awful. As the saying goes, the Chinese invented red tape and the French perfected it.

And, oui, a lot of people seemed more willing to take a track and put in their time than to set the world on fire. I knew some ambitious Frenchies that were extremely frustrated by the system and by their fellow citizens. At the same time, they experience less stress and seemed more generally content. I didn’t see the extreme behavior there that is common in the US — anorexia, cutting, alcoholism, meth, heavy drug use. Just my direct experience, here, not talking about statistics. Yeah, the suicide rate is sobering — buy have you checked out rural America lately? Very grim indeed.

What I found was that if you had read a few books, knew something about classical culture as well as the modern stuff and could speak the language, you could hit it off really well. You had to have introductions. You tend to work your way in — first, fellow expats. I hung out with some super cool Latin Americans and Lebanese and Irish people. That was fun and cool in itself.

Then you gradually start meeting French-French and finally native Parisians. Once you do, you’re in forever. It takes time, but I’ve never had more loyal, helpful friends than my companions over there. I didn’t actually pick up anyone; it was all social circles. This was in pre-Game days. I’d approach it differently now, but as a commenter said, I’d guess it’d be a challenge, given all the lads wanting to hit on a Paris babe. And yes, Bordeaux, Rennes, Grenoble, Marseilles and the college towns such as Montepellier are going to be friendlier ground than Paris. Think NYC versus KC or Charlotte or Denver.

Frenchwomen are indeed very beautiful, and if they lack the looks, they make up for it by dressing well and being charming. They know their way around the bedroom and the kitchen. This may be a stereotype, but they did seem to me more in touch with all their senses. They to tended to savor things more — oranges, wine . . . and, um, other edibles. That turns out to be a very nice quality in a woman.

They are complicated. Granted, the culture is changing, but it’s in the background. I did well by being more romantic even to a degree that I considered corny. (Don’t sneer man, it worked.)

I’d go back next week. Writing this makes me want to figure out how to move back; I’d sort of forgotten how much I miss the place.

Oh, and @Captain Power? Brush up your history.
-The French saved our Yankee asses during the War of Independence.
-They conquered all of Europe under Napoleon.
-They won WW I, last I checked, with, of course, their allies.
-And every country the Nazi blitzkrieg stormed folded, except for Great Britain who had the English Channel, and Russia, who lost literally thousands of miles of territory before they could get it together.

The French losses, civilian and military, totaled more than 500,000, about 100,000 more than US losses.

So yeah, while they didn’t have the most honorable record under the Occupation — unlike the Poles, for example — they didn’t exactly sit out the war, either. Nor did they go nuts on the whole Fascist deal like the Romanians.

– You can measure productivity a lot of different ways, but here it says French workers are the second most productive workers in Europe. (Luxemburg’s the first) (see: http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?24193-Real-productivity-of-European-countries).

So, remember that as long as we’re examining stereotypes.

It is, after all, the fifth-largest economy in the world. You don’t get there by just eating cheese and smoking Gauloises.

Anonymous
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Finn,

I’ve read all of your pages on your website and I found them thoroughly entertaining. I know you tend to use a lot of hyperbole and exaggeration in your writings, but I’d be interested in what you’d have to say about the US. Comparing your writings on the UK, Denmark, France, I’d say that the US might replicate or even amplify a lot of what you wrote about the UK. Either way, I’d still be happy to read it.

Yarbles
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From my experiences dating a French girl, I completely agree with Trois. She would not admit to anything that cast her in a poor light. The most hilarious example of this was when I left my apartment for class one day while she slept in. When I returned she had left a deuce in the toilet and forgotten to flush it. I brought it up with her later and she denied it was her, despite her being the only person that was in my apartment that day.

There must have been a breaking-and-entering phantom shitter on the loose in my neighborhood that day…

Enkhtuul
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haha, that’s funny! wonder about French guys.

humanfamily
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French culture views criticism in a particular light that governs a set of social-cultural rules relating to it. Criticism is to be avoided if possible, especially with people one doesn’t know exceptionally well, public interactions, etc. Unfortunately, in certain parts of life, there seems to be an excess of criticism. Criticism is used as a prominent tool in school and the raising of children and seems excessive to people of Anglo-Saxon or other cultures where the carrot might be more extensively applied in proportion to the stick. As you might imagine, adults have a rather averse reaction to criticism. Also, public shame is a much more charged issue in French culture than outsiders might imagine. For example, a jovial and good natured “roasting” of a friend at a dinner party is positively not done. Some people will readily use the term “saving face” when speaking of certain Asian cultures; you can well believe that this concept applies strongly to French culture as well. One can complain about one’s own life endlessly, but there is a sacred barrier when doing so about others. Even mild criticisms, like, “This village is really noisy,” will be met with a blank star but NOT a direct rebuke (the French person will not directly criticize you for breaking this social rule of – – not criticizing!) You will notice even that public insults take the form of four-letting name-calling and vulgar verbal directives rather than concrete expressions of what the person did wrong/ how she/he failed. Cultural differences are deep, meaningful, intricate, and hard to understand. And remember, this specific cultural behavior is completely tied into a larger cultural belief system and framework.

worldmusic
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@Yarbles Wow. That would explain most of the “Alice in Wonderland” absurdist arguments I use to have with my ex-French/African girlfriend. She was Senegelese but grew up in Paris. That chick almost made me lose my mind. I thought it was me!

Savoy
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“Cretins” Auhh so now I understand why Peter Sellers (a Brit) played inspector Clouseau & not a Frenchman… Nice observations, I promise to abuse them throughly on my next trip to FR. smile

OldHornDog
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Awesome review – love it and I agree as I’ve dated many French women. I was wondering – as I just moved to Valencia could anyone in the know produce a similar write up for Spain?

BTW, I just moved here from Los Angeles and am stunned by the sheer number of beautiful and feminine women. I didn’t expect that coming here as the rest of Spain seems to be less fortunate.

Finn Skovgaard
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@Anonymous, someone had previously asked for an article with my views about the US on my own site. From what I know about the US from over here, I quite agree that there would be a lot of controversial stuff to write about, but it’s only while living in a country that one really gets a chance to understand it, and what’s underneath.

As you can see in this article, I’ve thrown a couple of hints about what a US article would be like, not least the very last line. If I wrote such an article before coming to the US, I’d probably be denied entry, though wink The TSA dimwits appear to have invented a negative sense of humor. I can just imagine it, “so you’re from a country called Denmark, right? Just how stupid do you think we are? Denmark is a city in South Carolina!”

Lika
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As someone said, good French humour is a lot about subtle play on words, puns, funny expressions. The best of it would be from Céline 60 years ago, Desproges twenty years ago and Dieudonné nowadays.

Popular humour is just plain clownish and stupid (like Dujardin from “the actor”)

As for French girls, as Roosh partially noticed, they have, in general, a terrible Snobish arrogant attitude, good style, pretty faces, small breasts, no charm and They’re bitching about everything…

Finn Skovgaard
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About humor, the French adaptation of the original Canadian concept ‘Un gars, une fille’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Un_gars,_une_fille#France with Jean Dujardin and Alexandra Lamy (who married in 2003 at the end of the series) is both entertaining and gives a good insight in a contemporary French relationship if you can cut out the exaggeration. I don’t know if they exist in subtitled versions, though.

bodgie
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@ Mr Primitive. Thank you so much for your message

I was a bit desperate after reading some comments here.
I am a frenchman, and your vision of France fits the most what I think it is like. (I can’t be objective though)

I started to live abroad at the age of 23, and realised when I first moved to London, how bad our reputation could be. Also, most of the people in France, do not know that the anglo-saxons world can be so focused on the french sometimes ! Seems like everybody has his opinion on us, even if they never moved in here..
(I remember a canadian guy that was explaining me how french people behaved in restaurant, and how they lived etc… even if he never lived in france.
I remember also an other US dude that was always making fun of us, and critisizing, telling how much we sucked, that we lost every war etc. But still went to Paris to make his eyes surgery and other clinical operations.. as it was way cheaper than in the US smile

Some little points I wanted to had :

-foreigners tend to think that we are rude because we don’t want to speak to them when they ask something in english.
Actually, it’s not because we don’t want to answer, but because that most of the french people do not speak english and don’t understand it.
Also I admit, people in Paris are different (and more rude) than the rest of the country. (People living in capitals are not the same from country side)
But keep in mind that it’s not like in other countries when a lot of people speak english as a second language. I only know maybe 1 or 2 french people around me that could have a conversation in english.

-Being negative: this is true. Most of the time, french people like to complain about anything. It always piss me off when I hear french guys, abroad, comparing the countries and complaining about things.

-Being arrogant : that one is a funny one. And partly wrong, especially when if comes from the US :p
Just as an example, in France, when you present your work, most of the people will be humble about it, they will start to critisize their own work.. even if it’s good. In french companies, if you do something good, nobody will tell you. If you do something bad, they’ll make you feel like shit and destroy you and your work.
I have worked in different companies abroad, and what I noticed about US guys, is that even when the work is shit, they talk about it as if it was a masterpiece. I remember a new guy that presented himself, starting telling to everybody “I am good at what I do, I am excellent.. blah blah”. That’s not even thinkable in France. First, people would think he’s joking, and if not, everybody would mock him..

-Concerning war. Something I noticed is that in Europe, NOBODY makes fun of war. NOBODY talk about war as a competition. Something you lose or win.
WWII is not a subject that you start discussing like that, when you are with some germans, tcheques or italians, or whatever european nationality.
I noticed that it’s always a US guy that start this conversation. And I always see the embarassement in the eyes of the european dude. smile Last time I witness it was when I worked in Bulgaria, and a US friend started to talk about the nazis and how cool their uniform was.. :s
I believe that in Europe, the idea of war is not something funny, nore glorious. Maybe something our grand parents told us. War is mostly about pain, starvation, lack of everything, fear, bombing. etc. It’s not a michael bay superproduction.

I NEVER heard a russian guy telling me that France is shit, that we lost the war, that Russia made the biggest sacrifice, telling me that we are pussy that surrendered without fighting (which is false), that they won the war and kicked the nazis for us etc. Bragging about it.
Even if they would be legitimate to do so, they don’t.
Surely because enduring a war on your soil, seeing the destruction of your country, makes you understand that war is a lose-lose situation.
Something the US was lucky enough to never endure.

Hope Blandin
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It is mostly the guys who talk about war like that. Americans are more ignorant of war, yes, but that is not our fault. We learn about war through a textbook and have never actually seen the ramifications it entails. War is also glorified by the government, especially in High Schools and the ROTC program ( originally supported by the government to increase numbers in the military, now it is more a propaganda club, as it is now actually very hard to be accepted into the military). And when I say propaganda club, I mean that in the best way. More like a pre-military club for the curious… or those who just want to get out of gym, lol.

billtheamerican
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Very good post, Bodgie. Enjoyed reading in its entirety. It has been a long time since I went to France (back in the late 80’s when I was in the military). I enjoyed my stay there. Yes, some people did appear to be rude but we have to remember we were foreigners there and we probably did not make ourselves to be welcomed at times. I am very much looking forward to going back soon. All the best.

rookie
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There is a deep lack of education in this anglo-saxon obsession with the “rude french guy” stereotype who is the incarnation of rudeness because he is not answering when someone ask something to him in english in his own country without even a proper “excuse me” or “bonjour” to introduct the disturbance.

Try to ask something in french in the UK or in the US and the people will look at you like you are some weird alien or a clandestine immigrant.

lili
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One of the reason of the bad reputation in London, is also the strong Love/Hatred relationship between France & England, don’t forget that.

The reason of the bad reputation in US, is a serie of clichés, from people who think France is always stuck in the 50’s, with berets hats, and baguette in the armpit of every Frenc… Women not shaving, not using deodorants, and incredibly silly things like that… That’s a kind of propaganda.

The other reasons of the bad reputation, outside UK and US, is because French people have a trend to criticize/complain about everything (it’s in French DNA!) and are not very polite (a shame for us!)

Anonymous
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Excellent writing and an enjoyable read. Only criticism is how typical it is of western Europeans to think they’re overly complex and important. OMGZZZ French social norms r so much more complicated than wot ur expectin’!

As for the women, they’re the same as anywhere else. Be in good shape, well dressed and groomed, and be able to hold a decent conversation. Some will have a fetish for foreigners in general, or from certain countries. Some won’t care who you are or where you’re from depending on level of drunkenness. o wait tho european wimminz r like complex cuz u gotta ask 4 the salt uzing da correct terminolology.

Newberry
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Your post reminded me of a French movie I saw recently, Secret Things. It’s on Netflix. It’s about two gold diggers who use sex to manipulate their way up the corporate ladder and snag the alpha male. The French are certainly cynical and pay lip service to feminazism to keep up appearances. The whole movie has that dark tone.

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Cicero
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Roosh —

Book idea for you — you should write a book about pickup for those main, classic European cultures. Compare pickup in France vs. Germany (optionally add Italy, England, Russia, or Spain). Except write it for a larger audience — don’t write about “pickup” or “banging France” — write about seduction and love en Paree. And compare with looking for love on the Romantic Road in Bavaria…

See if you can pitch book to a publisher.

Ryan king
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The “British” salt quote is as silly as the telegraph article you were criticising for the same reasons!! Only the tiniest elitist minority speak like that in the UK!!!! “can I have some salt please” would be the standard.

Keep up the good work though, I enjoy reading your articles.

zap
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“So long as the state pays them for not working, and so long as working more doesn’t really improve their situation, why work?”
sounds familiar

EGAS
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I live in France and I am married to a Frenchman. If I had known more about how rude the French people are as well as government dishonesty , I would probably never lived in in France. My husband it a honest man but I find that he is rude and lacks integrity when he is with his friends and family. I agreed with everything that Roosh has said about the French. GOD BLESS AMERICA

La Mouette
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Hi I am French and I feel I the need to bring some details to the table.

1- Most French girls ARE NOT HOT.
I lived one year in Copenhagen and I agree to most of what is said “Don’t bang Denmark”, but definitely not on that “girls are so ugly omfg” part.
If you go out for 20 minutes to do groceries in Denmark you will find AT LEAST 5 approchable girls (good luck with that). And usually I don’t like blond girls.

Or let’s say you have ridiculously high standards (that being said, apart from eastern Europe, I don’t know where may find hapiness) and don’t like Danish girls.
You gonna hate French girls, I live in Lyon, I have been to Toulouse, Paris, Marseille (don’t even bother) … and 95% of girls are random. That leaves one girl out of twenty.
That girl usually dresses well, wear nice shoes and trendy sunglasses. But soon the Chloe clothes will fall to uncover a disappointing body.

French girls don’t have the gym culture so the only girls really fit are the one who won the DNA lottery. The other think their amazing personnality will make it up for the rest (and that’s true, for one girl out of 30).

So let’s say you have found an approchable girl, with a nice body, she speaks English (let’s drop the one out of … game), now you have to pierce through a ammunitionproof wall of arrogance.
Illustration : a French girl I met in Copenhagen, a 6.5, quite random, had just been hired at Nespresso and she xas overexcited “because maybe she will meet Georges Clooney so she could just fuck him right away”.

To sum up, dating scene is France is nowhere near some place you should crave to go.

But if you ABSOLUTELY need to date in France here is how you bang “hot” girls in France:

-have status, arrive with girls at your arm and fun friends

-NEG NEG NEG NEG NEG NEG, the average French girls thinks you want to get into her panties if you dare say “hi” to her, cast doubt on that.
There is no typical approach that will work, just convey that even if you are the one opening you don’t give a fuck about her.

-get them drunk, they act like princesses all day long but when they have the alcohol excuse they get in touch with their desires and turn into respectable sluts.
Careful though, if you will make out quite easily you will need your game to get a lay.
And of course the next day, when they sober up they will turn into princesses again and if you dare mention the fact that she scratched your back for 3 hours last night she will answer something like “hu, was drunk, barely remeber, k bye”

I travelled quite a lot and I have to say that French girls (and North Americans close behind) are the ones who deserve the most to be called out.
But once in a while one will be a little different that the others and you will linger around and it’s gonna me mindblowing for a while.
Does it worth all the pain ? Can’t you go to Russia and meet 5 models a day in St Petersburg instead ? I will let you know, I will be there in September.

If you want some illustration, go watch the “shot by Kern : France” on vice.com
That depicts the situation very well : 2 random girls thinking they are hot shit and acting like it and a third one who actually is and knows it.

(R)evoluzione
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I met a super hot Swiss-french girl here in the states. She was as you described–haughty, entitled. This was in the pre-red pill days.

Wiscanada
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I just have to add, french-canadian girls are excluded from this stereotype. France shipped all of their slut DNA to new france hundreds of years ago and we are still enjoying it today.

WestCoast
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@ La Moulette if you see this…

Why the hell do all the french people send the tourist to DUPLEX?!

Just curious, i won’t ever return to Paris but there has to be something better than those “1969’s” or whatever as if seeing a skinny 50 yr/old is cool?

One thing i won’t knock the Museums/Art/Sight Seeing was incredible, unfortunately I don’t like that stuff.

Ben
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Very stupid people–voting in Hollande. So many French are going to suffer badly.

Thanks to immigration though, the left there can rely on a good amount of stupid people voting.

La mouette
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Ben -> Agreed, that’s why most students who go on exchange get prepared to leave that goddam country.

WestCoast -> When you are Parisian, dissing with tourists is a national sport, cause you know .. you are not Parisian so that makes you a 2nd class human being.
So when you ask for the Champ Elysees they may send you to the Parisian Bronx instead , or when you search for the Eiffel tower they may tell you that is had been destroyed during world war 2.

Those are true stories.

As for the Duplex that’s prolly what happened to you cause everybody in Paris knows that all the sludge of Paris gathers here.
Sorry. In that case don’t hate the game, hate the players.

Fripon
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I am French, I am from Brest (Western France). And yes, you have to make a difference between Paris and countryside.

There are people from everywhere in Paris. I have never been to New York, but I think it is kind of the same thing to it.

If French people are not nice with you, it is because you went to Paris. And even if in Paris, I met lots of nice people, it’s so stressful because of overpopulation that people can be agressive.

Some important rules to me when you go to Paris:
– shut up, or speak in a lower voice. Italians, Spanish, American, Polish, African, every body speak way too loud for us. It’s very annoying for us.
I don’t know why but we like quiet place a lot more than you do.

What I don’t like about the classic french girls here is :
– they smoke smoke smoke… that’s disgusting, even more than men,
– they don’t dress very well, it’s better than German but no sexiness,
– they act with no sexiness either,
– they act like princesses, so yes you have to neg a lot I suppose (I don’t like girls who smoke so I did not spend lot of time with French girls),
– they may be too much self-conscious, so be careful with everything that will sound that you want her just for her looks, and be discrete.

What I think you could like about them :
– we really hate plastic surgery and lots of make up, if a girl seems to be ok, at first, you should not be disappointed when she undresses… I say that because I went out with girls from other countries I felt ripped off (having sex with a girl who have silicone it’s the bottom, that’s so scary…)
– girls are not obese here, of course some of them are, but it’s not like what I saw in other countries, we eat correctly…
for instance my girfriend who is Brasilian told me that they put ketchup with pizzas… We ate a very good one in Marseille… and she did.
I think to me it’s very awful to do that, because ketchup will blur every other taste… And a Italian would do a heart attack if you do that.
Note : there a lots of place in Paris where you don’t eat well. For that, never go to “St Michel”, prefer “Montmartre”.

Marseille is also different I think. I have been there for the first time two weeks ago and I thought there was a different mindset to have.

And in the place I come from (Brest), there are not lots of girl, and they all wear dreadlocks, listen to reggae, smoke pot (lots of people do in France), and act like princesses… It’s cold like San Francisco.

After that, you have to be aware that France had a lot of inmigration : Northern Africa (Morroco, Algeria, Tunisia), Western “black” Africa (Ivory coast, Senegal…), Asia (Vietnam…)… and there were Islands who are still part of France (Reunion, Ile Maurice, in Indian Ocean… and Guadeloupe, Martinique in Caribean Islands)… so be aware of that.

Moreoever, even if lots of “classic” French people are Catholic, we don’t go a lot to church. But there are a lot of Muslims as well. And Jude people…

You cannot make fun of Jude, because they own almost everything and the “Holocaust” is pretty recent.
You cannot make funk of Muslims either because we are scared of terrorism. Algeria, who used to be a part of France, suffered a lot from it.

Be aware that France is a big mixture of all of that. Not only white Catholic who don’t practise or don’t believe in God or think about it.

Come here for our food, to visit where you come from (because I think a lot of you may have French ancestors), for the architecture.

And yes we can be negative (don’t know why…maybe because it’s hard to speak to random people in the street), for us privacy is very important (did anyone read 1984 ?), but…

we take shower every day ! we are not that dirty ! wink

Je Four
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Fripon, great comment. I’m an American from Southern California. I very much appreciate the points you make especially the part about talking loud. It’s so true and I can totally relate to that. I find it annoying as an American to have to listen to loud obnoxious people….everywhere. I don’t dine out much because even in the nicest restaurants here people are practically shouting across the table. As far as speaking to random people on the street or waiting in line at the market, I can’t stand that either. I’m not antisocial, I’m there to buy groceries. It’s annoying when the customer in front of me starts up a conversation with the cashier about what sport his kid plays and holds up the line. At Trader Joe’s (a chain grocery store here) they always ask what my plans are for the weekend. It’s rediculous. They don’t really want to know and I don’t need tell them. Many women I know wear too much makeup. It’s not attractive. I do love my country, don’t get me wrong. I just appreciate and can relate to the points you make. My husband has French Huguenot ancestry one of the reasons we enjoy visiting. It’s refreshing for me when I go there to enjoy the French ways you mention. Merci.

Fripon
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I forgot : if we don’t want to speak English, it’s simple. It’s because there is no reason whatsoever why people MUST speak English.

We don’t want supremacy of one language above others.

I went to Spain, that’s the same in countryside, and ther local languages are even more important to them than they are in France.

In Bulgaria, also, it was difficult to me to meet people speaking English.

Our rugybman “Chabal” :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfUmW_Mf5qc
lol

Anonymous
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Ahhhh…. To Fripon and Bodgie : MERCI !!!