Rules to Live By (if You’re French): Expat Edition

Given the legions of Anglos that have colonized Paris, the French need special rules to maintain our positive relations. Here are some helpful hints for Parisians when dealing with foreigners.
1. Do not allow others to mangle your beloved language (even if this means mangling theirs). When spoken to by a native English-speaker in perfectly understandable yet ever-so-slightly-flawed French, always respond in broken English. Even if your English is crap, they would much rather you insult them in their native tongue than be permitted to carry on in imperfect French.
2. If employed in the service sector, when attempting to serve a non-native French speaker, (e.g. procurea fresh baguette, take a dinner order), be sure to show how hard you are struggling to understand their French. How? Lean slightly forward and grimace while cupping a hand behind your ear. Feel free to interject a helpful, “QUOI??” Customers will appreciate your efforts at complete comprehension.

3. Unless you are on the metro or bus, do not apologize for anything — ever. Apologizing is very serious business and should not be taken lightly. It is a sign of weakness and worse — of being wrong — and must therefore be studiously avoided. If circumstances call for an apology (being late for an appointment with an Anglo, for example), use humor and charm to deflect attention from your error. Remember, we are only wrong if we say so.

4. Never hesitate to scold others’ children or provide parenting advice to complete strangers. This is particularly true if the strangers are not French as they have much to learn about how to behave in public. If you are not a parent yourself (or better yet, your offspring are now adults), your perspective and guidance will be particularly well received.

5. As you know, France is the only country in the world that produces good wine. When presented with credible evidence to the contrary (a Sonoma Valley Cabernet, for example) be sure to express utter amazement and share your opinion that it must have originated from French vines.

6. On the subject of cheese, see #5.

7. As a true Parisian, you love New York and London and would even like to live there (for a period). As for the rest of the U.S. and England (and their inhabitants), a bemused distrust is only natural. Notable exception: San Francisco.

8. It’s important to remember that not only are all Americans obese, they sadly know nothing about good food. Most subsist on a steady diet of KFC and pureed Big Mac milkshakes. If you find yourself in the presence of an American who appears unusually thin (for an American), be sure to tell her that “she is not like most Americans.” This compliment will make her day.

9. Last, never forget that Americans and Brits are rarely facetious or sarcastic. Always take them at their word so as not to cause offense. 😉

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6 thoughts on “Rules to Live By (if You’re French): Expat Edition

  1. Your blog is very interesting, I love to read about expat in France. On the other end, I am a French girl, who's been living overseas for nearly 6 years (UK, Japan, Australia) after falling for an Australian man!
    I currently live in Sydney and I blog about healthy lifestyle based on the principles of the French paradox (no dieting, focussing instead on eating for pleasure but with moderation, making healthy food choices, and maintaining a level of fitness by being naturally active).

    I'd like to hear stories from Expats who have lost considerable amount of weight after moving to France, to share on my blog in order to encourage my readers to quit dieting and follow the French approach instead. If you have any expat friends in France fitting if this category please send them my way! Merci beaucoup.

    PS: I'm currently having a French goodies giveaway on my blog, open internationally. Feel free to enter if you like.
    http://mademoiselleslimalicious.blogspot.com.au/

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