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How Do You Find The French?


Bead

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Hello.

I moved to France for my sons higher level education. Completed all of their red tapes in all of its various forms. Banks, leases etc etc etc.

I have come to find that while the French expect manners from everyone, they seem to give precious few to any outsider, each week we go to the market, last week I went to buy a dozen oranges and as I put my hand on one of the oranges I was greeted with screams of Non and told on no uncertain terms not to handle my fruit.

In the supermarket they virtually throw the food at me as I am trying to pack it into bags. In the bar/cafe they almost throw the drink or coffee at me or whatever has been ordered and their impatience is vastly on display. I speak to them in French.

I have been ripped off on taxis on more than one occasion, but you must bear in mind that this is my fault because my French is not fluent (although I am sure that no matter how strong my accent, Chantilly and Gouvieux are not interchangeable).

Last week my son was threatened with the police. He was getting on a bus at the train station to bring him home. He was told by one bus driver that his student card would allow him to ride the bus, then another driver told him that the card was not valid and he would get the police. I phoned to complain and I found one English speaking guy who gave me his email address, which bounced back, so then I wrote a letter to the company to complain, still no response.

How come a country which prides itself on its manners, feels it has the right to behave in such a manner to people coming in to live here for limited or long periods of time. We hear so much about the French and their good manners, but it seems we see little of it.

If you are buying something which costs a vast quantity of money, they are very capable of bowing and scraping. Not that I wish to see anyone bowing and scraping, but a little common courtesy would be nice once in awhile. The key word being common.

I treat them with respect, has anyone else found this to be a problem.

The taxi driver we usually use stated in the first week of our arrival that we would speak fluent French in three months. Two weeks later she said she would not speak to us in English at all and proceeded to give us unwanted French lessons while the meter spun unnaturally fast.

Am I the only one who has had these experiences, or are there others?

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Does France pride itself particularly in it's manners and do we hear so much about it, not in my experience.

Admittedly I haven't been here very long but even from an English perspective I don't think many would say that the French were noted for their manners, or lack thereof, any more or less than many other nations.

We don't have kids here nor have we used taxis but we have not experienced any of the other situations you mention although it is true that some shop staff can be a bit offish.

My personal experiences thus far have been mixed but overall I would definately say lean towards the positive side.

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Yeah, mine too - wish they wouldn't !

Seriously, perhaps I have been lucky but I have not experienced any situations which are negative in the two years we have been here.    Of course you get the occasional grumpy shop aassistant who doesn't like his/her job much.    We have one particular one in local m bricolage, and it has been my mission (more for fun than anything else) to carry out a 2 year charm offensive on the woman and I did eventually get a smile...   But I don't let little things like grumpy shop assistants or taxi drivers upset me wherever I am; what's the point.   

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[quote user="Bead"]

I have been ripped off on taxis on more than one occasion, but you must bear in mind that this is my fault because my French is not fluent (although I am sure that no matter how strong my accent, Chantilly and Gouvieux are not interchangeable).

[/quote]

I think what you have may be that special race, the Parisian.

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On the whole the people we have met have been have been fantastic - very friendly, welcoming and helpful. Our neighbours keep an eye on the house, mow our lawn, remember

all our birthdays, send us presents at Christmas, invite us to family occassions /

outings, bring us vegetables / wild mushrooms - even pigeons etc that

they have shot!

I agree about the customer service (i.e. after sales) point though.  The attitude that is drilled into UK employees - that the customer is right and that you, as an employee, are representing the company seems totally alien to them. 

The thing we have found most difficult though is the lack of privacy / personal space.  Our neighbours seem acutely interested in everything we do, invite themselves into the house, etc etc.  We have always been pretty private people and, at times, find this a little intrusive and claustrophobic.  In fact we put our car in the garage when we are in France far more frequently than we do in the UK - so the neighbours don't know if we are in or out!  Likewise, we often leave the shutters closed for the same reason - just so we can have a little private tine...without offending!  I guess its just different.

Edit - Re the comment above about Parisiens.  The parisien family that run the B&B (about 10 miles away from us) where we stayed at a couple of times while we were house hunting a couple of years ago have been lovely to us.  She remembered me a year after we stayed with them and ran across the square to give me a hug!! 

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Well it seems you all have lovely neighbours and I consider that to be a lovely thing.

However my neighbour backed out and killed my cat last night. I found it lying at the side of the pavements, not because it had been lifted there, but because that's where it was hit.

This morning I approached my neighbours and asked did they notice anything or accidentally hit my cat last night, at first she was shocked, horrified and asked if my cat was all right. She must have been winging it because then she contradicted herself and said her sister saw the cat last night, she didn't hit it but when she was leaving she did notice him lying there. Of course she couldn't knock the door and tell me, I guess that must be the french way.

So sorry I can't be on the same page as you all today. Yet I still say if I was advising anyone on a move to france, I would tell them that they need their head examined. They have a beautiful country, it's just sad what else they produce.

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Why is it that whenever anyone has a negative view about some aspect of French life we have the 'why did you come here were you unhappy in the UK' trotted out again.  Is it forbidden to have negative views about France?  France is not some kind of Nirvana - it is just the same as anywhere else.  It has unemployment, bureacrocy, high taxes, alcoholism, high suicide rates, drug abuse, racial tension, a nearly bankrupt healthcare system....and its share of morons.  Equally it has beautiful picturesque countryside, towns and villages, a wonderful language, culture and history, lovely kind hearted people etc etc...jus like many other countries e.g. the UK, Ireland, Italy, Czech Rep, Spain......

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Bead, One Boxing Day I had a neighbour ranting and raving on my doorstep that we had left our young cat, in the road, dead in full view of her children, hmmm - the fact that we had not known the cat was dead escaped her, she was surprised we were upset !

Oh, it was in the UK - nothing today with France and the French, just a thoughtless human, I'm afraid you get those everywhere..

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[quote user="Bead"]

So sorry I can't be on the same page as you all today.

[/quote]

Sorry to hear about your cat...I can imagine your distress.[:(]

Did you already know about your cat before you typed out your first post in the very early hours this morning?

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Of course I can understand the anger of some people on this forum but please stop saying it is " the French way"   " the French are like this or that"...

Yes there are people who show little or no respect to animals butnot everybody's like that !!!!!!!!

And we are not all rude !!

In my family, friends and neighboursd, I could quote dozens who care for their animals as much as you do..

I assume the cases of ill treatment happen mainly in the countryside...

And then once again, even  there there are people who care for their animals !

It hurts me to read about stereotypes..........

But no offence taken, promise ! [;-)]

[IMG]http://i140.photobucket.com/albums/r20/regine79/DoggyHolidays.jpg[/IMG]

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[quote user="Frenchie"]

Of course I can understand the anger of some people on this forum but please stop saying it is " the French way"   " the French are like this or that"...

Yes there are people who show little or no respect to animals butnot everybody's like that !!!!!!!!

And we are not all rude !!

In my family, friends and neighboursd, I could quote dozens who care for their animals as much as you do..

I assume the cases of ill treatment happen mainly in the countryside...

And then once again, even  there there are people who care for their animals !

It hurts me to read about stereotypes..........

But no offence taken, promise ! [;-)]

[IMG]http://i140.photobucket.com/albums/r20/regine79/DoggyHolidays.jpg[/IMG]

[/quote]

Well said Frenchie

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I'm very sorry to hear about your cat too Bead and believe me, having been there, I completely and utterly sympathise, but however distressed you are I think without some real proof that your neighbours were responsible for it's death it's really unfair to take it out on them and the whole French nation to boot.

Maybe they were responsible, I don't know, but even if they were I doubt it was deliberate and I have to say quite frankly, from having innumerable cats over 5 decades (anything between 3 and 9 at any one time) I find it very difficult to believe that an otherwise healthy one would allow itself to get run over by something like a reversing car so be careful your'e not jumping to conclusions.

How do you know it wasn't hit by a passing car for instance, you don't do you, and if it was it could have been driven by anyone, French, English, Dutch, you name it.

Remember also that not everybody feels the same way about cats as you and I and many others. I personally know at least 2 people who loath them and openly boast that they if they saw a cat in the road they would deliberately aim for it with express intent of trying to kill it.

I've seen your comments which were edited out and it's clear how upset you are so I think it best you take some time to come to terms with it and calm down and become rational again.

Best wishes

 

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Hi,

Was your son's education the only reason you moved to France?

Having read your two posts this morning before they were edited, I believe your resentment and bitterness will only increase as time goes on. I personally have generally only had good reactions from French people towards myself and my family, perhaps people, regardless of nationality, respond according to how they are treated.

Simon

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All people place themselves on a spectrum, as Frenchie implies. There are about 70 million French people, I believe, and they will be spread along a line which goes from excrucuatingly polite (I've met some of them) to downright rude (ever met Sylvie in Champion?) with most being somewhere between the two, and to complicate matters rude people are sometimes polite and otherwise courteous people can have bad days. 'Scalled life, innit?

Just as some people are perennially optimistic and others - well, judge for yourself.

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[quote user="Scooby"]Why is it that whenever anyone has a negative view about some aspect of French life we have the 'why did you come here were you unhappy in the UK' trotted out again.  Is it forbidden to have negative views about France?  France is not some kind of Nirvana - it is just the same as anywhere else.  It has unemployment, bureacrocy, high taxes, alcoholism, high suicide rates, drug abuse, racial tension, a nearly bankrupt healthcare system....and its share of morons.  Equally it has beautiful picturesque countryside, towns and villages, a wonderful language, culture and history, lovely kind hearted people etc etc...jus like many other countries e.g. the UK, Ireland, Italy, Czech Rep, Spain......
[/quote]

Scooby, you misunderstand what I was about. I was trying to discover whether the original poster had been as unhappy in UK as he is now here and therefore whether the problems stemmed from him or from a genuine dislike of the French. Of course one is entitled to be negative about France, but it is worth examining the other possibility too, is it not?[6]

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Yes I was aware of my cats death when my first post was posted, I didn't want it to overshadow the other problems.

As I stated, my reason for being here is to see my son through his first year at film school, the school is highly rated and lives up to its name, although it is an international school.

Well, I think the fact that my neighbour couldn't keep her story straight is kind of a hint. When I spoke to her she was going out to walk her dog, after I spoke to her she turned around and went to speak to her husband, was the news of my cat so traumatic that she had to go home or was she saying "they caught us?".

And finally the cat was found in their driveway, that's kind of a big hint.

I have lived in England, New York for two years, California for oneyear, Ireland and a few months in Canada. Yes all places have their ups and downs it is true, but none compare to this.

In a bar in New York I always got my drinks served to me, not thrown at me. In markets in Ireland they have no problem with me lifting the fruit, in fact they find it helpful because it means they don't have to do all the lifting and moving. Canada is a very quite country but people show respect. The markets in England are more than happy to serve people, and with a smile. In California the people are relaxed and sometimes vain, but when asked to do something they are more than helpful.

In regards my own attitude, I feel that I smile more than anyone here I have encountered, sometimes to make up for my limited French I make it a point to always be polite and say Bonjour, Merci and aurevoir along with anything else I can manage to get into a conversation. Sometimes I think that may be the problem.

I detest racism in all its forms, but I do believe in statistics. Statistically speaking someone who is Jewish is more likely to be a carrier for Tay-Sachs disease. I don't think it is racist to say that, it is simply a statistic. I have met some nice people in france, but I have met a much higher percentage of rude people. Is it wrong to say this, can I not express how I feel after my neighbour slaughtered my cat, didn't knock my door, didn't move him out of their driveway, left him out there until frost covered his fur and then lied to me?

ErnieY I have to say you have very strange friends. I'm not a great fan of anacondas but I would not socialise with someone who boasted about slaughtering them. Cruelty to animals is one of the potential markers for antisocial personality disorder.

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[quote user="Bead"]ErnieY I have to say you have very strange friends. I'm not a great fan of anacondas but I would not socialise with someone who boasted about slaughtering them...[/quote]I simply said I knew 2 people Bead, that's a far cry from them being friends or people I voluntarily socialise with, one happens to be a work colleage and the other someone who drinks in what was my local in UK. 
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[quote user="Bead"]


In regards my own attitude, I feel that I smile more than anyone here I have encountered, 
 I have met some nice people in france, but I have met a much higher percentage of rude people. Is it wrong to say this?


[/quote]

Bead, I am very sorry to read about your cat.

I certainly don't feel it is wrong to say that you have met more rude people than nice people in France. Although this will not make you very popular on this forum, as a number of people seem to have nothing but positive experiences,  idyllic relationships to their neighbours, etc...

I can well believe that you smile more than most people you encounter. This is my experience too, after living 6 years where I do now. Many locals in my area are downright rude, indifferent or hostile, and you have to virtualy mug them to get a bonjour out of them. No amount of smile and bonhommie will drag them out of their suspicion - anyone who came from further than 10kms up the road is a stranger, and on the whole they do not like strangers.

As someone who lived in the UK for most of my adult life, I was quite struck by the unfriendliness of the local people in this area when we moved here. However, in spite of this, we both managed to make a life for ourselves, by joining a number of organisations, and making friends, we now know many people in our little town. But the overall unfriendliness remains - some tell me that it is normal here in the Midi - it is true that there are probably huge regional variations and local ones too.

There is no language problem for me -  I am French.  But I still feel that overall, insofar as one could generalise (which is not far at all!!!!), the British people I have encountered in London, Sussex, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Devon, Manchester, Birmingham, Berkshire, etc.... have  been much more open and friendly than the French people I have come across here.

You see, I love France, with all its warts, so I put up with the French.  There is little choice, and there are times when there are very pleasant surprises.

 

 

 

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Thank you so much 5-element, I was begining to feel that saying anything that wasn't nice nice was totally unacceptable. Just a word of aggrement here and there leaves one feeling that one is not losing their mind compleatly.

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I have not found any problems with my neighbours when in France ....mind you.....I have been living in a Dorset village for the past 16 years and I am not accepted yet  !.....I have just about learned the language   "" I says to she ......and she says to I ..... ""  you need a straw sticking out of your teeth to perfect the accent !
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