Saturday, June 14, 2008

In which Soleil encounters French stereotypes

D and I discussed Sex and the City over our usual Wednesday afternoon café meet up. As I already shared, I didn't think the movie was amazing but I'm glad I saw it. D really liked it, and she said that her favorite part is the fact that this group of women are always there for each other and always solve their problems together. So I took advantage of the opening to ask if French women really are as hard to be friends with as everyone says. The stereotype is that they are always jealous of each other and constantly competing for men, and that it's just very hard to become friends with them. She said that's absolutely true, and mostly because of the jealousy part. She told me some stories, and it almost sounds like French women are jealous of the happiness of their friends. Bizarre, non? D is definitely not like that at all, she's along the Sex and the City American girlfriends model. I guess that's why we're getting along so well.

Yes, they smoke A LOT. Of all the new people I've met through D in the last several weeks, only two are non-smokers. One of my favorite things is walking through the crowd of parental smokers outside of the schools while picking up or dropping off their kids. I feel like I should get a chest x-ray to make sure I haven't developed lung cancer. I'm not joking. It's so, so much better now that smoking is forbidden in bars and restaurants, but really, you'd think they would get the hint that it's time to quit!

The French are always surprised when I tell them that Americans think they all cheat on their significant others, and then say that it happens just as often in the US, except we're more hidden about it. Which may very well be true, except I can't even tell you how much gossip D has related to me that involves someone getting cheated on .....

Last week one of the other teachers told me that I've lost a lot of weight since coming to France. I didn't tell her it's because I'm getting off the steroids, i.e. medication from hell, and that I'm actually back to my normal size.... but anyway, to continue with the story, this then led to her telling me how much healthier France is than the US, you know, the usual tales about how we never excersize and eat French fries and chips all day long in front of the television while chugging gallons of Coke. I would say that she's right and France is healthier than the US (which is changing as they adopt our bad habits), except that I definitely eat a lot worse in France than I do at home! In the US I never eat French fries, and yet I get them alllllll the time here. I also make myself nachos more often than I care to relate. Luckily I have to walk everywhere so I'm not packing on the pounds where I can see them, I'm just clogging up my arteries so I'll have to get open heart surgery in the next five years.

Sadly I have yet to see anyone wearing a beret while wearing a striped shirt, holding a baguette and a bottle of wine, and smoking a cigarette. And standing next to their bicycle. With a dog. That has pooped on the sidewalk. But I'll keep my eyes peeled.

8 comments:

Jennie said...

I think that's why I will never have any female French friends... I have nothing in common with them! I don't smoke, I'm not fashionable, I don't want kids, I don't do a bazillion activités or exercises, I'm not the jealous type, etc...

I do think the idea of cheating is different in France though just because dating doesn't really exist here. In the US, you can casually date more than one person and sometimes it's accepted, whereas in France, if you're "seeing" more than one person, it's cheating. I don't agree with the American idea of casually dating though. For me, it's serious or nothing! But yeah, I can see the stereotype of "liberal love" in Europe and how Americans think they sleep around or whatever.

And oh my god, am I sick of French people thinking all Americans are fat and lazy. I NEVER ATE DAMN FRITES IN THE US!!! We were served frites like every other day at my school this past year. I was so sick of them!!!!!

I have seen an adorable old man wearing a beret and cycling down the street with baguettes in his little bike basket. I wanted to take a picture so badly!

Andromeda said...

I think I am either just naive or oblivious or superblonde or something, because I am sure there is jealousy with some of the girls I know, but I don't see it. Even with Ben's ex, (who I sat next to most of the party!) she was really nice, but not that fake nice, and if anything, I am jealous of her for being all French and skinny, lol.

Maybe Lorraine girls are just chiller, or I've lucked out or something. Most of them do smoke though, so nothing is perfect!

Au Soleil Levant said...

French women are such a mystery. Clearly no one has figured them out. No wonder so many French guys end up with non-French women! Who has the time and energy for les françaises?!

Jennie, that's an interesting difference to point out between American and French ideas of cheating. So maybe their claim that we cheat just as much is based on that? Or maybe I'm just too young to have endless stories of who cheated on who?

And just to throw it out there again: all the smoking sucks. Really wish they would get on that whole quitting thing.

corine @ Hidden In France said...

Well I'm French but I neither smoke nor cheat on my husband and I am capable of deep, loving friendship.

.. oh but wait.. I have been living in the States for 20 years. I wonder if this has anything to do with it? : )

But seriously, it takes a while to get accustomed to the ways of another culture. It took me forever before I met my first American friend. American women were a true mystery to me. Now I see there is no mystery, and that the spirit of sisterhood between America women real and wonderful .

Au Soleil Levant said...

Corine I hope I didn't offend you with this post! You are absolutely right, it takes a while to get used to the cultural differences. Guess that's why they call it culture shock! I really love getting to know the French and French culture. Maybe if I stay for another 20 years I'll end up a smoking, jealous cheater? ;)

Now on to my favorite American stereotype: that we wear n'importe quoi, n'importe où! Man did I have a good time with that one when I was home in April.

Leesa said...

Hi There...

I am fortunate... I have quite a few female French friends... all who speak English fluently and only one who smokes (in fact, she barely smokes at all- I've never even seen here smoke, and when she revealed to me she smoked, I was shocked!) The French friends I have are all very sweet and I know I could count on them if I ever had a problem.. Also, I teach private English classes and I have become friends with almost all of the moms- they invite me and Alex over for social events and often share personal information that they don't even tell their spouses or other family members...
Also... I "knew of" many more people in the U.S. who cheated on their "other" but none here in France... Most of my female French friends are single, too.
I ate better in the U.S.- I was a vegan and stayed away from junk food/processed food.. Here, I eat healthier.. but my when my hub buys snack foods, I join him... Oh well.. I'm back to the gym at least! Take care... Leesa

Monique said...

haha I totally gained a buttload of weight when I was in France :(

damn pastries!

Au Soleil Levant said...

Leesa - thanks for another perspective. I think a lot of it depends on where you live too. In Paris there are so many different people to meet, whereas in the countryside in Picardie, there are only so many people.

Monique - thanks for reminding me to eat a ton of pastries before I leave!