Starts in French, then switches to English
Je viens de lire un article sur Rue 89 (ici) sur les conseils que certains guides touristiques donnent à leurs compatriotes (britanniques ou américains) qui s'aventureraient en France. Bien sûr, c'était plein de clichés (du genre, le Français drague, est toujours en retard, mange beaucoup de pain...) Il y a une part de vérité dans tout ça, et l'article est assez drôle (affligeant, mais drôle), mais j'ai eu envie de faire une propre liste de tous les trucs que font les français qui peuvent paraître dingues/bizarres à un Britannique ou un Américain.
I was reading an article about what some English and/or American guide books advise their fellow citizens to do or not do when they're visiting France, and it made me want to do the same. But I'm not going to go for the stereotypes.
It should be said that in the end the best advice is to be yourself, of course (but still).
-does la "bise" (no translation here): it's a social convention which involves at least one peck on each cheek (some people do up to three, don't ask me). It may seem to you like an invasion of your personal space, but the French do it all the time. Acceptable applicants for "la bise" are: friends (whether yours per se, or a friend's friends'), colleagues (on the same hierarchical rung), people you've met once in a bar (hoping that they'll become your friends), family. Should also be said that "la bise" is cross-gender. Problems arise when you're greeting a group of the afore-mentioned: you can either a) launch in a round of bises, b) give an apologetic smile and/ or a shy wave, c) say you've come down with stomach flu.
-says "vous". The people you don't do la bise to are the people you will have to "vouvoyer" (there's even a verb for it !). You should say vous to people you are meeting for the first time, to teachers, to your boss, to bank employeees, to hotel staff...just use it unless the person actually invites you to use "tu" (which is called "tutoyer" ! )
-isn't prepared for vegeterianism, let alone veganism." I don't eat meat" often equates with "I am a lunatic". Well, you've got to admit...
-eats cheese that smell like your grandad has just let one loose. But they actually taste good, try some. Or you could just have the wine.
-says weird things like "I'm going to put the car in the parking" or 'Let me write this down in my planning". Just nod.
-uses strange backward-words. It's called "verlan" from "l'envers" (ie, for reverse). Go with the flow, nod along.
-is convinced that no food is greater than French food. Don't even try to disagree. Again, just nod.
-goes on strike. There's always a reason to do so (and I believe so, too). Go on strike yourself, or just expect your train to be late, your flight to be cancelled, and the métro to stop running.
-doesn't function very well when it snows. In fact the whole country seems to come to a standstill. Again, expect all means of transportation to stop working —and expect to hear about it on the TV and Radio for days and days.
-doesn't understand the way to ride an escalator : some people will get on and stop right in the middle, others will park themselves on the right, others on the left. You may have to weave in-between them to get past. Or you could just be patient.
So, what do you think ? Forewarned is forearmed, right ? What have I forgotten ? Get the comments rolling ! I'm especially thinking of you, my human Eurostar friends.
And soon we'll do the opposite: advice to French people visiting the UK/USA.
Alors, qu'en pensez-vous mes amis français ? Qui aime bien châtie bien, non ? Le truc de l'escalator c'est quand même fou (ou est-ce que c'est différent à Paris ?) Surtout, n'hésitez pas à laisser des commentaires, je suis sûr que vous mourrez d'envie de vous moquer de vos compatriotes aussi.
Et bientôt on fait l'inverse : les conseils à donner aux français en route pour les Etats-Unis ou le Royaume-Uni. L'occasion de se venger ! Je vais avoir besoin de tous mes copains voyageurs.
Sur ce, bonne nuit, —and, as always,