From New Zealand to New Brunswick; San Francisco to Sidney; New York to Nottingham plus every other country and city in the world where most everyone speaks English, the French have neatly lumped us into a language lexicon they call: “Les Anglo-Saxons.”
Though inaccurate — which they readily admit — it’s convenient as are most generalizations.
It seemed only fair to turn the tables and ask them what they think of us since I spend an inordinate amount of time asking others what they think of them.
My specific question was: “What do you like, dislike, admire (or not) ‘chez les Anglo-Saxons?‘ “
Prepare yourselves for some unsettling surprises. Among my respondents most have traveled, if briefly, to the British Isles, Canada or the United States. Renée is the only one who lived abroad for several years in Richfield, CN. Taking that into account, many of the answers I suspect come from articles, films and television programs which have left them with certain stereotypical impressions of us.
Here we go. . . (“They” equals Anglo-Saxons, for reference.)
Cristel: I think they often have an air “précieuse” and “coincée” which is to say, “inhibited, repressed” and “affected.” However, she quickly adds, “I love your (she’s speaking generally) sense of humor.”
One thing I don’t understand though is, how can a woman leave her house without any makeup at all, just for herself if not for anyone else?
Sophie: In general I think they make little effort to make themselves look pretty. Sometimes I’m surprised by their association of colors like red and green as if they didn’t own a mirror.
Also I think they’re loud.
I’ve noticed too, since we live in an area with lots of different nationalities, the English and somewhat the Americans like to find their compatriots rather than becoming part of a French community.
Claudia: In England they eat cheese after dessert, can you imagine?
Anglo-Saxons don’t seem to have any interest in coquetery. I don’t understand. It’s so much fun.
On the other hand, I think they have no fear when they get dressed. If it’s comfortable, that’s what counts. It’s not like us we’d rather be miserable and look good than be comfortable and maybe look not so great.
Edith: I love the eccentricity of the Englishwoman. I think it makes her fascinating. We don’t seem to be able to pull that off with any charm. It’s a shame.
American women can be sumptuously beautiful. Sometimes I think though they can be overly concerned with always being politically correct. It can be very boring and constricting.
Sandrine: We take time to eat a real lunch which I think helps us stay relatively slim even though recent statistics say Europeans in general are heavier than they were in the past. I’m not sure Americans eat properly.
Also, now here’s something I really don’t understand: Why would an attractive woman, well-dressed for work, wear tennis shoes with her ensemble? Why wouldn’t she choose to wear ballerinas, they’re pretty and just as comfortable? It makes no sense. Why does she want to look ugly like that even if she’s only walking from the Metro to her office?
Anne: I think, American women in particular have lost their femininity. I believe being a wife is a metier, not something to be taken lightly. Our role, even if a woman works, is to support her husband and make whatever sacrifices necessary for her marriage and for her children.
When a woman gives up her femininity it is she who loses the most. What is more pleasurable then being séduisante, pretty, flirtatious and charming? It makes our lives rich and amusing.
Renée: I loved our life in the United States. I’ve never seen such openness and generosity. You have to live years in France before you’re invited into a French home. I was invited for “morning coffee” by our new neighbors before our boxes were unpacked.
Another thing, we Frenchwomen think we’re the world’s most extraordinary mistresses of la maison, well let me tell you I was in absolute admiration of my American neighbors. I’ve never seen such perfect organization. I learned a lot. And, they were good cooks.
One thing though, I think American men could be a little more romantic and charming with the women in their lives.