Stereotypes partially stem from the truth, so–from one of our resident French staffers–here are seven clichés about French tourists that will help you identify them abroad.
We French bear a heavy burden when we travel abroad: the reputation of cheap grumpy tourists who don’t take well to other languages. And since clichés almost always stem from the truth, we have learned how to spot French travelers abroad…sometimes without them even having to speak! So, here are seven tips for spotting a French tourist abroad…(to be taken with a grain of salt of course)!
1. The French tourist does not do well in foreign languages…
We’re not good at other languages. Even if we start consulting language books from a young age, we are still unable to follow a conversation in a foreign language. This is a little bit out of shame, a little bit out of laziness and a little bit out of pride…”everyone should know a little French, it’s the most beautiful language in the world!” Therefore, we don’t make any linguistic effort when traveling abroad. Just because we’re going to Portugal for two weeks doesn’t mean we’re going to bother learning basic pleasantries like “hello”, “good evening”, “thank you”, and”please”. In the end, we learn to say the essentials, like “beer” and “wine” and how to ask for the toilets. And then if you don’t understand us when we speak French, we will simply speak louder, convinced that you will then be able to understand us better.
2. The French tourist is grumpy
When dissatisfied, we can be very demanding, and we won’t hesitate to get our point across. We can always find a good reason to complain such as waiting too long in a restaurant. At some point, we’ve all complained that the service was too slow even if we are on vacation as we’re always in a hurry. Maybe that’s why we jaywalk or try to skip the lines. Yes, we know how to queue, but we will often try to get ahead one or two spots “nonchalantly”, so beware! If, on the other hand, someone does this to us, we will express our disagreement in a patronizing tone.
3. The French tourist is cheap
We always grumble if we have to pay for water, food or bread, especially in Italy. Even if it is only a modest sum, compensated by a price that is generally lower than the average restaurant check in France, we will continue to complain about this additional cost until the end of our stay. We also very often “forget” to leave a tip or pay our bill.
4. Their appearances never deceive
We can recognize our compatriots at first sight without them even having to speak. We’re discreet and, above all, we’re adventurers! Whether we travel to the American West, go glacier trekking in Norway, visit all the museums in London or travel through Madrid on a mini-train, we will always carry at least one Quechua backpack. We love Quechua! However, our top travel companion is the Routard guide!
5. The French tourist is attached to French cuisine
We like to think of ourselves as gourmands! A bad culinary experience can ruin our day if not our entire trip. And, to make sure this doesn’t happen, we put all our trust in the Routard guide. However, the food will never be as good as at home! After a while, we grow tired of hamburgers and pancakes as well as those repeated servings of pasta and pizza. And the bread will just never be as good as what we have at home.
6. The French tourist needs benchmarks
Ok, traveling is great but we always need a little bit of something that reminds us of home….we’re lost without our camembert and sausage. To reassure ourselves, we can’t help but compare everything we discover to something from home: “Oh yes, Lake Powell is impressive, it reminds me a little of Lake Salagou” or “The Sumidero Canyon is not bad, but it’s got nothing on the Gorges de l’Aveyron”. When we walk past a shop with a French name, we are very proud! And if we see, say, a chain that we recognize from France, we’re elated and reassured, and can’t help but jump for joy. And above all, when we meet another fellow countryman, it’s a celebration! It’s like meeting a family member after spending years alone in a hostile environment.
7. The French tourist speaks loudly and thinks that no one can understand him or her
Finally, when we’re abroad, we cannot help but make comments or criticisms in French, convinced that no one can understand us. We really enjoy having a laugh at the expense of others we encounter when we’re out and about. True story: my sister-in-law was on the subway in New York when a young French man made a comment to his partner making fun of her very pale complexion, comparing her to an aspirin tablet. Well, she understood everything and while she might not be able to compete with their ability to bronze, she is much smarter than them and all the better for it.