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Subjects to avoid with the French


letrangere

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Learnt the hard way this week that religion appears to be up there alongside the European Wars as a subject to be avoided at all cost.  Talking about scientists aiding human reproduction, not a subject I have particularly strong views on, purely to show I hadn't nodded off, I threw in the line that des gens croyants may have a problem with it.  Sudden silence followed by filthy looks, I assumed it was my French so tried des gens religieux instead.  Same reaction.  In the car later, close friend asked why I kept harping on about religion.  Eh?  "Religion is regarded as a philosophical issue and is deeply personal, it is not a subject for open conversation".  Most of those present were once-every-couple-of-years-Catholics, people I normally feel very comfortable around.  And it wasn't as if I had asked them how often they went to confession or took holy communion!  And seeing as though one woman regularly tells me of her husband's infidelity and their problems in the bedroom (ugh), whilst another updates me daily on the status of her menstrual cycle, I thought this reference to "deeply personal" was a bit rich!

Is it just my friends and colleagues who have a particular problem with this or has anyone else come up against similar? 

M

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I find religion a very hot potato with some people. Some teacher friends of ours got rather worked up over the religious headgear/ crucifixes in schools issue, particularly as we were comparing the French & British approaches to religion in education. I ended up wishing we had stuck to health issues.

Don't mention the war. Or the church.

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Which war are we talking about here? Couldn't be that UN police action that apparently finished in 2003 could it? There have been a few since Napoleon was around.

We had a dinner party the other evening, all French guests, and it didn't really get going until my wife asked them whether they were going to vote Oui or Non.

Well, two hours later.....!

Next time we will stick to pancake recipes or similar.

 

 

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[quote]And don't, whatever you do, invite them to search for "French military victories" using Google's 'I'm feeling lucky' facility. The result might crease you up, but I doubt they'd appreciate it at all![/quote]

Follow the google instructions and haven't laughed like that in years. 

Took some research but found out that it isn't a google page at all that it takes you to.  That happens to be a mock-up page of Google, suggesting a search for "french military defeats." The large Google logo at the top tends to distract Web surfers from the address in the Web browser: www.albinoblacksheep.com/text/victories.html.   Steve Lerner, a 22-year-old Toronto student, said he created the page as "a humorous way of showing political opposition against France's weaseling."

What a classic! Thanks for the laugh

Richards wife.... Lynda

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When I was a child I had it brainwashed into me that there were three things forbidden to be spoken of in public.

"Politics, Sex and Religion"

I am curious as to why one of the above is obvious in its absence in the conversation thread.  Are the French more open to talk of such matters or is it just taken as given as a dangerous topic in public situations?  Having been brainwashed from a child, I would be extremely uncomfortable to discuss any of the three "no-no's" in a public situation. 

Richards wife... Lynda

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Depends as to how the religion and politics are addressed really. We often have such discussions with friends.

And sex, well that isn't really discussed. Conversations here with friends are often far less coquin than those I have with friends in England.

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never ever to wash a tea pot!

Oh absolutely, Monika, it's something I had drummed in to me as a child by my mother who maintained it ruins the flavour of the tea.   I've never washed the inside of a teapot since.

Lynda: amongst my French female friends and colleagues, sex is very much a subject for conversation, much more so than with my reserved British friends.  Admitedly, these women are all townies and I guess they would regard themselves as being well educated, sophisticated(!) and unless it's religion or the war, broadminded.  But along with bodily functions, they regularly update their close friends with details of the sex life and talk openly without inhibition on the subject.  They're convinced British women have a hang up about sex, which a couple of them believe is due to all young British men being homosexual!  (It's something they grow out of in the 20s apparently.)  When I try to argue that this is nonsense, especially as Britain is now the European leader in the teenage pregnancies table, I'm simply met with that infamous gallic shrug! 

So, there we are, all French men are fantastic lovers and all young British blokes are gay!

Margaret

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How about talking about money, how much you earn, what did so&so cost etc? In uk it used to be taboo but I think now people are more open, in fact tending to boast. What's the french attitude? Pat.
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Pat, the same little group I mention in my posting would probably say that the British are also extremely conscious of how much people earn and that it's an extension of their (our) desire to slot people into groups/classes.  But I'm not sure I'd agree for they all talk openly practically to the point of boasting about their finances.  I remember a neighbour of ours in Paris coming in one evening with the concierge.  Whilst we were talking I could see them doing mental calculations as to how much the furniture and bits and pieces in the room were worth.  As she left, the neighbour stroked the John Lewis curtains as though they were a priceless Dior gown.  I was quite touched.  M
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My french friend told me about the demise of her marriage.  Apparently, her hubbie was having it away with one of the villagers - who were all pretty much part of the same salle de fete possie.  Her 'friends' would go round to their home and have the aperos/dinner parties and act like normal knowing full well, Monsieur Hubby was planting his carrot in someone else's garden.

I was shocked, I commented - why did your friends not tell you.  Her response was people would never interfere in someone else's marriage.  I can understand the philosophy of it but nonetheless I would be majorly annoyed if no one said anything to me. On the other side I would not feel comfortable going around to someone's house playing happy families if I new M. Hubby was having it away. 

Certainly something to know, I wonder if I had known about it and informed her, would I have been considered an interfering busy-body/marriage wrecker - most probably.  Something to be aware of, certainly around these parts anyway.

Deby (17 Charente Maritime)

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Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum, only my second post but great place this. I'm a Parisian - un 'titi' et un vrai !- (hope you won't mind me barging into yr forum folks), staunch lifelong anglophile, UK resident, ça va de soi. Among all of the previous no-no topics mentioned, I'd say the 'les foulards' one is really the only one that is very sensitive and must be approached with extreme caution if you're a Brit (as France's and UK's religious habits and so on are so different), not a definite no-no topic but be careful how you word yr opinions !  particularly if you're in favour the foulard-wearing girls and if you compare it to the UK system. All the others (religion, sex, infidelity, politics, money, etc.) well, it pretty much depends on the usual variables: who with, when, where, how, how strong is the Gamay you've just had, etc.  In the Menilmuche and Belleville troquets I frequent when back in Paname, on discute de tout avec tout le monde, so no trouble there !
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