French Language Blog

Gallic Pride Posted by on Sep 25, 2008 in Culture

As I was quick to observe when I began living in Paris in 1997 as a young, impressionable university student, the French are very, very proud of their language, culture, history, wine, food, geography, women, clothing, music, brands, etc. etc. and did I mention their food and wine?  After having already lived in Spain where, especially at the time, most people were still wary of demonstrating even the slightest bit of nationalism out of fear of being called a fascist, I was actually quite shocked to find that a country existed with people who were just as avid flag-wavers as the Americans.

One of my close French friends is a very typical chauvin, in other words he manifests excessive patriotism and like many of his compatriots, shows an exaggerated admiration for his country.  No matter what the topic is, he somehow always finds a way to insert his Gallic pride into the conversation.  For example, once we were at a restaurant and after I tasted the wine the waiter had just filled my glass with, I said “hmm it’s very good”…and he said, “Of course!  It’s French!”  He has responded in that same way many, many times since then whenever I acknowledge liking anything I come across when in France.  He has also stated many times that the French language is the preferred language of diplomats as it has the most nuances and can therefore explain any situation.  Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but he insists.  The French roads and highways he drives on are the most modern in Europe.  The French women know how to best dress and put on make-up.  French cheese is the only cheese in the world that actually tastes like the grass from the pastures (supposedly that’s a good thing).  French beef is so good and uncontaminated that it can be eaten raw (as in steak tartare).  The French invented soccer and Zidane is the best player in the world.  He, like many other French people, proudly assumes the title of chauvin after it was popularized by the comedy La cocarde tricolore in which an actor named Chauvin personified extreme patriotism.  A French cleaning lady once haughtily told some of my fellow university students who asked her to clean up a mess in the hallway that they could not treat her “like a dog as they were in France!”  What??? She was the cleaning lady…wasn’t her job to clean?  Charles de Gaulle’s credo even states, “From time immemorial there has been a pact between the greatness of France and the liberty of the world.”

Although the term ‘Gallic pride’ which makes reference to the land (Gaul) settled by the Franks known today as France, can be used with a positive connotation, in English, we occasionally…okay if you look at newspaper and magazine articles and such…we often use it to refer to French people but in a derisive and critical way.  But, given that the French are proud of being chauvins and proud of their Gallic pride…I think it’s all in good fun.

Here is a video where you can clearly see and hear just how proud they are.

Vive la France!

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  1. Stokey:

    Ce que j’ai entendu dire, pendant pas mal d’années, c’est que les americains manquent de culture. Il se peut que les francais admirent l’Amerique mais, en meme temps, ils se moquent un peu de nous,n’est-ce pas? Qu’est-ce que vous en pensez?

  2. chanda:

    Hmmm….Stokey, I wouldn’t say that the Americans lack culture. I don’t think that’s true. Unfortunately, I won’t be blogging about American culture because this is a French blog, but American culture and history is quite rich I can assure you. And in the years I lived in France, I never once heard that from any of my French friends. It is true that the French admire the US and at the same time are quite honest about what they dislike about the US. I believe though that every country in the world has good things and not so good things…you just have to be subjective which is hard sometimes due to many reasons including the media. Merci pour vos impresions!