Why the hatred?

I have been struck lately by several blogs I’ve read by other Americans living in France who seem to be having an entirely DIFFERENT experience than the one I have had. I don’t think I’m overly “Pollyanna-ish;” I think I’m honest in my assessment of my neighbors and friends, etc. But all of these blogs seem so negative about the French. I truly don’t get it.

For example, a friend sent me a link to this blog,which is written by an American living in a small village, just as I do. I was truly surprised by the attitude she describes.

I’ve been coming to France for 30 years and have known many, many different French people in that time from all walks of life and from all corners of the country. I have NEVER felt “dissed” because of being American; I have NEVER been treated as if my ideas didn’t count; I have ALWAYS been welcomed and listened to.

And, it’s not only blogs like this one that have surprised me; there was a really nasty article in The Daily Beast the other day that irritated me a lot. I was going to leave a comment, but didn’t feel like registering on the site so I could do it. I put the writer’s experience down to it being Paris, but I wonder if it’s not just that she has really snotty friends…

When I lived in L.A., I tried to make French people that I knew understand that America was NOT New York or Los Angeles, and that there were as many cultural differences across the country as there were between France and America. I try to help American friends understand that Paris is NOT France and that waiters in cafés are as likely to be performing their “shtick” as anything else, and behave the same way to French patrons as American ones.  But I fear it is a lost cause.

I am really trying to understand the experiences of both of these writers, but I must admit that I find that difficult. Could it be a question of personalities? That is, do I blind myself to slights because that is just the way I am? I really don’t know, and I do hope that my overall positive experience isn’t setting some other person up for failure if they don’t find the same attitudes on their visits to France.

Ciao for now.


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4 thoughts on “Why the hatred?

  1. Well, I skimmed the entry you linked on the Daily Beast. The author states that she was at a sale at Lanvin, standing in a crowd of women in fur coats. Which rather begs the question: How did she get in, and why was she there? A sale at Lanvin sounds as if it would be a hoot.

    I, too, fail to understand why someone would live in a country she so obviously dislikes, and this particular she sounds rather unpleasant and quite snippy. I certainly will go out of my way not to read her forthcoming book on French life.

  2. Thanks, MG! I feel as you do; why live in a country that you seem to dislike? Of course, she’s not the only one, as I’ve run across a number of ex-pats from various places who have moved here and not found it to up to their expectations. However, I really believe you get the same thing out of a place that you put in, so perhaps the attitude comes from within, not without?


  3. Hi Randy,

    It is interesting how different people can have such different reactions to similar things. For example, a lot of people dislike New Yorkers and think they are mean-spirited and what have you. I have been in New York a number of times and I have yet to meet an unfriendly New Yorker. I have the same experience about France.

    While we don’t live in France I have a couple of experiences from our trip last year. The French people were very nice to us. We really had no negative experiences. Heck, in one restaurant when another patron learned we were from the US, he bought us wine! Furthermore, I asked some British friends who live in Southern France about the French attitude towards Americans and whether we should be concerned. They shook their heads and said that in Southern France there was much more disgust (if that’s the right word) towards Parisians than anything.

    Finally, the article you mentioned from the Daily Beast talks about French smugness when they won the World Cup. So, the Italians weren’t smug when they won the World Cup in 2006? Or how about us Americans whenever we win a gold medal in the Olympics? Goodness, if you win the World Cup and are NOT smug, then something is wrong. By the way, for every French flag I saw in France I see 10 American flags in the US.

    Furthermore, the article states and I quote: “They have always touted their outdated views that their quasi-socialist economy out performs free market capitalist countries like America and Britain.” How can ANYONE claim that America is a free market capitalist country when our very own government spends a whopping $700 billion to bailout Wall Street? This sounds more like Sweden than anything.

    Finally, having lived in the US during the run-up to Bush’s war in Iraq, I am glad I was not a French person living in the US considering the hostility of most Americans towards the French.

    Hopefully with Obama’s election our two countries can finally come together as in old times.

  4. All good points, Cognac! Certainly right now the U.S. and the UK aren’t models of anything positive economically. At least France still has some manufacturing going on here.

    Snobbery can definitely cut both ways.


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