A Meditation

The French: Why Does Everyone Hate Them? (and Why You Shouldn’t)

On berets, wine, cheese and being mean

By Katherine Gunn July 15, 2015

Shutterstock 97836725 n2xjne

Actually, feel free to hate this guy.

Image: Shutterstock

The French have a bad reputation. I’m not sure entirely how this got started, but by now it’s a well-accepted fact. Here are four reasons you might hate the French, and why you really shouldn’t.

The French are easy to make fun of

The berets! The striped shirts! And what’s with Napoleon? So short! Well, the striped shirts are a classic look, I’ve never seen a French person actually wear a beret, and Napoleon? Not actually short. You may have heard it before, but in Napoleon’s time French inches were longer than English inches…so when the English heard his height in inches they all started making fun of him, but he was actually average height for his time.


First of all, if you’re below a certain age, you should know straight off the bat that the French invented school. Well, Charlemagne, an ancient emperor, invented school before France was actually France. But don’t worry, the French hate Charlemagne for that too—French schoolchildren even have a song they sing called “Sacre Charlemagne,” which translates roughly to “stupid Charlemagne.” It’s all about how terrible it is that he had to go and invent school.

Yeah, but the French are annoying, and super-pretentious.

The French do tend to be snobby about their wine and cheese. But, let’s face it, they do have great wine and cheese. And don’t get me started on the bread! Being snobby about it is just how they show national pride. And have you seen Americans show national pride? “We’re the best because we are! We have a cool flag!”

The French are mean, and they might be a little racist.

Okay, here’s the thing. In France, conversation is based on debate and being clever. In America, it’s largely based on being nice to people. I’ve heard plenty of Americans start sentences with “I’m not racist, but…” I’m not convinced that the French are actually more racist than anyone else, they just have no problem voicing unpopular opinions. And they may sound mean, but they really just value being direct, and occasionally cleverly insulting each other. Which is also to say that the French probably don’t actually care if you don’t like them… Just be a little more clever about it.

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