"Xenophobe's® Guides: Nationalism & identity"

Xenophobe's® Guides: How the French see themselves – and you

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What's the best thing in the world? Being French. Here's a guide on how you can adopt French nationalism and identity, too.

Xenophobe's® Guides: A book series that highlights the unique character and behaviour of different nations with insight and humour.

How the French see themselves

The French care about what really matters in life – being French. They care more about doing everything with enormous style than about what they do. They are convinced of their corporate and individual superiority over all others in the world. Their charm is that they don't despise the rest of us: they pity us for not being French.

They are a sensual people: who kiss where others shake hands; who proudly say that they make love in the same way that they eat; who write music that sounds like the sun rising out of the sea. This is why they delight in such refinements as taking seven and a half minutes to wrap a small tarte aux cerises – putting it in a box, tying it with ribbon and handing it to the customer as though it were a new-born baby – when the blessed thing is going to be consumed the moment it's taken out of the pâtisserie.

On anything that matters they consider themselves experts. Anything in which they are not experts does not matter. All life, all energy, is a grand force of nature, which they embrace whole-heartedly. They see glory in what others regard as defeat. They may lose an empire, Algeria, or a rugby match at Le Parc des Princes, but they know that France will rise again, more glorious than before.

The French would never say ‘Poor old France' in the way the English have been saying ‘Poor old England' day in, day out for the last couple of thousand years. The French have no time for national or corporate self-pity. Instead, the cry is ‘On, on!' to the barricades, the next election, the next invention and negotiation. There is a childlike enthusiasm and optimism about the way the French view Fate and Destiny. All will be well, they believe, simply because everything French is the best in the world.

They also see honour in seduction, triumph in a well-cooked entrecôte, and world supremacy in a bottle of grand cru. Not for nothing was Louis XIV called ‘the Sun King', for the French see brilliance in everything they do, and French statesmen from the Renaissance to the present day have likened France herself to a guiding light. Their role in relation to the rest of the world borders on the Messianic.

How they would like others to see them
Since the French are so full of their own self-esteem, they don't really care how others see them.

For more, read The Xenophobe's Guide to the French.

Reproduced from Xenophobe's Guide to the French by kind permission of Xenophobe's® Guides.

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