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If you want to keep your French friends, then DO NOT do anything on this list.
There’s a myriad of irritating things you could do to put off potential friends pretty much anywhere, like ordering the most expensive thing on the menu and asking to split the bill, or retelling that one story no one laughed at in the first place.
But there are some that might particularly get on the nerves of French people and are best avoided, unless of course your aim is to use this list to intentionally annoy your French coworkers, friends or partner (which we’re not condoning).
Do all of these and you’ll be on track to being the least popular Anglo at the soirée.
1. Get sloshed at an apéro
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Although “le binge-drinking” is alive and well in France, apéro culture is a whole different ball game. Don’t mistake this for a house party, at the apéro (short for apéritif), the nibbles aren’t just there to help you absorb the alcohol, and you’re actually meant to have a civilised conversation.
Downing liqueurs like shots and dancing on the tables might firmly cross you off the guest list for next time.
2. Sit inside at a café, meaning they can’t smoke
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Every season is terrasse season in France. When it comes to siting to eat or drink outside while having a smoke or watching people go by, the French become impervious to the elements.
Your French friends might not appreciate making them move inside, so make like the locals, wrap yourself up in a big scarf and find a spot near the heater if you can.
3. Insist bien cuit is the proper way to eat steak
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It might physically pain a French person to cook a steak until it’s bien cuit or “well done”. In France, it’s the bloodier the better, and asking for steak beyond à point (rare to medium rare) is only for tourists who ‘”ruin” the flavours.
If you really want to lose their respect, ask for très bien cuit, we dare you.
4. Refuse to go and watch French films in the cinema
France is proud of their cinematic heritage, so watch your popularity plummet as you decline their invitation to go see the latest French art house film saying you’d rather go watch Die Hard on DVD at home.
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5. Laugh at their French accent
We might think the French accent is sexy and cute, but the French can be quite sensitive about it.
They tend to mock each other for having imperfect English accents, so what you might have meant as a light teasing could go sour.
6. Think it’s funny to say ‘sacre bleu’, ‘zut alors’, ‘mon dieu’
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French people really love when you say hackneyed phrases no one really uses to them. Try it out and see how many eye rolls you get from your French pals.
7. Break with cheese etiquette
Having cheese as a starter, asking if they have any crackers, cutting the cheese however the hell you like. All big no-no’s according to French norms on cheese eating and could provoke the ire of purists, like when one French mum broke with convention on Camembert cutting (pictured above).
8. Say you love France (when you only mean Paris)
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Little will rile non-Parisian friends more than equating the capital with the whole of France, they might snap back at you with the old phrase “Paris is not France and France is not Paris“.
9. Say the bread at the supermarket and boulangerie tastes the same
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There’s a reason the fresh bread section of the supermarket is so small, strictly for emergencies and convenience only.
Bread from supermarkets like Carrefour is not to be compared with “the real thing” from the numerous local bakeries.
10. Say you’re envious of their ‘easy’ 35-hour work week
Everyone knows the 35-hour week is a myth, the average French person puts in 39 a week and certainly won’t thank you for bringing out the old “French workers are lazy” stereotype.
11. Turn your nose up at French cuisine
French people, by and large, will tell you they’re proud of their country’s cuisine, so wrinkling your nose at a boeuf bourguignon and asking if you could go get sushi or tacos instead won’t make you many pals.
12. Tell them you’re a vegetarian (or worse, a vegan)
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Meat free diets are gaining in popularity in France, especially in bigger cities, but in the wrong crowd, telling French people you can’t share their planche mixte might get you some concerned looks.
13. Make jokes about them going on strike all the time
“Hey if you don’t like it, why don’t you strike about it! Because you’re French…get it?”
Your French friends are unlikely to be impressed by your spot on observational humour. Unless they work in the transport sector, they’ve probably never been on strike in their lives. Save the jokes for friends who work in SNCF or AirFrance where they might at least hit the mark.
By Rose Trigg