On an outing today in Nantes, a French girl asked me what some of the stereotypes of French people are. Obviously, stereotypes are dangerous because they wade into waters of generalization. Not all French people fall into these categories. However, she wanted to know & this is what I came up with:
- French people love baguettes (and cheese…and wine)
- French people smoke
- French people are well dressed
- French people are cold to foreigners
I agree with the first point. I’ve seen everyone from kids to teens to seniors chomping down on a baguette in the street. I agree with the second point. I’ve seen everyone from kids (kidding) to teens (not kidding) to seniors sucking on a cigarette in the street. And I agree with the third point. I’ve seen everyone from kids to teens to seniors all dressed better for a walk to the corner store than I am on a good day!
However, I’m quite happy to throw the fourth point right out the window. Since I arrived in France (including Paris) I have met kind, generous, helpful people willing to go out of their way to help me. Strangers came to me to help when I was clearly lost. Phone cards were offered to me when I needed to make a call. And food was offered, just because it was there & I didn’t have any.
So no matter where you are, don’t let a stereotype pre-cloud your impressions. Visit it with an open heart and mind and there’s a good chance you’ll be met with the same.