July 2, 2012

On Myths [that might be true] About France.

Ah, France. :) A lovely moment of tango I captured while in Marseille this past weekend.
Before leaving for my summer in France, I heard several assumptions American people hold about the French. Most travel sites will dismiss all of the following myths about France as folklore, while imploring you to immediately get on a plane.

I, on the other hand, strive for truth. 

Most of these stereotypes/myths definitely hold a grain of truth, but I will still implore you to visit France, if the opportunity arises for you.

Myth #1 The people smell bad.
Well, deodorant isn’t too popular and the summers are hot. You do the math. For the most part, I didn’t notice any smell until June/July rolled around and I was in close contact (read: public transportation) with people. Yes, they smell, but not any worse than any other grown human being not wearing deodorant on a hot summer day.

Myth #2 The women don’t shave their armpits.
Yes and no. Some do, some definitely don’t. I’ve seen both. I’m not sure why, considering their propensity for nudity (see myth #6).

Myth #3 French people are rude.
The problem with this myth is that most people saying it are actually speaking about Parisians (people who live in Paris). The thing you have to understand about Paris, is that it’s a big city: full of people who have things to do, people to see, places to go, etc. Any big city you visit in the world will have people who are on a mission. Have you ever heard anyone who just returned from New York City remark about how friendly everyone in the city was? Didn’t think so.

Myth #4 French people hate Americans.
This myth probably goes along with the perception of rudeness (myth #3). However, in my experience, French people have been very curious about me (the American). They love to ask questions about my country, culture, background, etc. They may not be too fond of American government, but they are very knowledgeable and up-to-date on current events and politics from the United States. The French people (and the non-French people living in France) have been so incredibly gracious to me, even with my inability to speak French. 

Myth #5 Everyone smokes.
People definitely don’t smoke as much as you would think, but it seems to be more socially acceptable in France than in the States. Maybe they are using it as a weight-loss tool to prevent becoming fat like the Americans.

Myth #6 There is nudity everywhere.
Nudity is far more acceptable in France than in America, but it’s not an epidemic by any means. I‘ve seen one naked lady on a beach. Some advertisements are a bit more racy than I’m used to, and more nakedness is exposed on television during daytime hours than the FCC would allow. However, I’m definitely not as bombarded with nakedness as I expected to be. Walking down a street in Las Vegas is much more shocking in the nudity department.

Myth #7 Everything is expensive.
Obviously, it depends on what you’re buying. Most food is more expensive, but bread is fairly cheap—and it’s infinitely better. Gas is more expensive, but if you take public transportation (super cheap), you won’t have to worry about that. Traveling always costs money, but you gain so much that it is always worth the investment. 

"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." -unknown
via Pinterest


  1. I've always wanted to go to France. What did you see over there?

    1. France is lovely. I'm living in Grenoble for 3 months, but I've visited Paris, Marseille, and Annecy too.