Why the French are so arrogant (and why Norwegians aren’t)

My home country, France, is internationally known for its great wine, food, kisses, seductors and philosophers. What a creative nation: as good in bed as in the kitchen. But there is a but, of course. Paris is not that romantic after all (it’s actually quite dirty and noisy), and French people are also internationally known for their rudeness and arrogance. We have been elected as the most unfriendly nation in the world for travellers, as well as the most arrogant nation in the European Union. That includes our own fellow Frenchmen qualifying themselves as the most arrogant… You have to give it that at least we are realistic about it.

These “prizes” mean that either we try very hard at treating people badly, even the tourists who are obviously quite intelligent as they come to visit our beautiful country, or we are born and raised arrogant for a reason.
In Norway, where I now live, arrogant is the worst qualification Norwegians wants to be called and perceived as by other nations. Obviously the French don’t mind it too much.

So let me tell you the simple reasons why French are so arrogant and why, on the opposite, Norwegians aren’t (or manage to hide it very well). Before anything what is arrogance? It is when someone believes they are superior to others and show it in an insulting way.

1- History: Longing for the past
We were once the kings of this world (if I remember my history books well, which were probably biasedly written by French megalomaniacs) and we miss it. On ideas, philosophy, colonial empires, language and so have you. So we still pretend like this is how it is supposed to be. Not that long ago French was the diplomatic language spoken by the European elites. But hellloo neither the 20th century nor the 21st are seeing the revival of French intellectual influence in this world. We aren’t the kings of the world anymore but French have this great ability not to give a shit. WE should learn English for the Americans? HAHA this country is 300 years old and eats fake meat and they want to teach us stuff. So even when learning English we make sure we have the thickest French accent so that no one can ever think “oh wow that guy made a real effort”.

Norwegians on the other hand. Well, they were also the kings of this world one day a long time ago, in a way: everyone remembers the merciless Vikings who conquered the world from their history books. But the recent history of Norway is that the country was always part of someone else’s empire: the Swedes or the Danes. It is only 200 years ago that Norway became independent and extremely recently that it became a wealthy nation. I read that after World War II Norway was the poorest country of Europe with Portugal.
While the French have had an nicely sized ego on the international scene, the Norwegians seemed to have suffered from some kind of inferiority complex. A French meeting a foreigner will expect him/her to speak French, and perfectly. A Norwegian meeting a foreigner will just be happy he/she knows Norway is its own country and not a city in Sweden.

2- Society: Arrogance as social recognition
Norwegian and French societies are very different and the ways for one to be acknowledged and respected are also completely different. In France those who are socially valued are those who 1- know a lot (or pretend they know a lot) about anything from art to philosophy or geopolitics, 2- who have a high social status (by being from an elite school) and 3- those who are arrogant. It doesn’t matter what you know, who you are, how much you earn, as long as you are able to make everyone else feel like you and only you knows. The winning combination is being arrogant + having entered an elite school. And being a man. And being white. Let’s not even go there.

Being humble will lead to your social death in France. There is a saying “Trop bon, trop con” which basically means being too nice makes you an fool. You might have walked alone to the North Pole, if you are not able to talk about it in a superior way the social value of your exploits will be reduced.

In Norway however it is the total opposite: it seems like being modest here is the one thing to be if you want to be respected and be socially acknowledged. Here the winning combination is to be humble + nice. Who cares if you studied, if you are competent in your work. As long as you are “snill”. It is written all over the Law of Jante ruling many aspects of Norwegian social life: “You’re not to think you are smarter than we are”.

And it is in fact one of the things that surprised me when I moved here: people seem so modest. Even the super rich don’t show off too much, and the highest professors still wear old shirts and dirty shoes. They will talk to a cashier with as much respect as to the Prime Minister. In any social setting: a party, work, a supermarket, treating someone else like they are inferior to you will not gain you any respect. Quite on the opposite people will look at the ceiling thinking how rude you are. It is refreshing when coming from France because we don’t have to fight so much here for every of our ideas. Then again, debates sometimes seem very politically correct in Norway, it lacks a bit of spice and confrontation for my taste.

In Norway, why be arrogant? Your boss listens to you, during an annual meeting you have with him or her to discuss all issues linked to your job. You can talk in meetings and be listened to without being shouted at, and people will politely disagree if anything. Arrogance is not a matter of social survival in Norway.

3- How to detect Norwegian pride, sometimes tainted of arrogance

That said, arrogance does exist at its own level in Norway. The thing is that for a French it will be undetectable: we are used to showing or seeing people treating others like they are the scum of this world, so a Norwegian even trying very hard to be patronising will be hard to detect for us. It’s the same with seduction. Norwegian men can try very hard, French women are so used to be heavily flirted with that the subtleties of Norwegian seduction will appear like a simple conversation.
However, I have seen it, more under pride than arrogance. Many people here have the intimate conviction that their system and their country are the best in the world. That the whole world wants to come here (believe me it doesn’t, my parents don’t even want to come on a holiday). Norway is definitely the welfare system with the least deficit, yet saying all the time that it has the best quality is, well, a bit arrogant.

All in all, there are 65 million inhabitants in France and obviously all of them can’t be arrogant. Some live in Norway and had to drop that because it is so badly viewed here. Some never were but know how to avoid the arrogant ones in parties and family dinners. There is another French saying: Knowledge is like jam, the less one has the more one spreads it. At the age of 18 I met a professor in university who had 2 PhDs and was incredibly passionate and at the same time very humble. I realised that arrogance is just a way to hide one’s ignorance and insecurity. When you know that you are right you don’t need to scream it to the world and step on two persons on the way telling them how idiotic they are.
Yet in France arrogance has become a state religion, so I advise you to get tuned in if you move there, so that you can get what you want from administrations for example. But remember, arrogance takes you so far (look where it led Nicolas Sarkozy!).

A Frog in the Fjord: One Year in Norway Book

102 thoughts on “Why the French are so arrogant (and why Norwegians aren’t)

    1. As a Scots girl at the age of 18 I spent a whole summer with a dramatic and sometimes arrogant family near Paris. It was a summer of great adventures and I arrived back in Scotland rather insufferable and somewhat arrogant. French arrogance lodged itself inside me. Here I am at the ripe age of 53 realising that I was formed during that summer and some of that forming has not been to my benefit in the long term. I grew an appetite for dramatic events and wanting to be the centre of attention. Life went on and I loved France and any adventures there. Add the South of England drivenness and I was set up for a hard time in Sweden where humility is important. I was stuck between what I call Madame (or Milady) mode and a depressive schism where I felt powerless because I wasn’t used to this type of society. It all ended very sadly indeed and back in the SE of England I long for that more humble and nature dominated culture with greater social equality as opposed to the British class system. But this is all hindsight now! Alas.

    2. French have to be arrogant otherwise people would immediately recognize they are idiots who think they are cool just becuase they put a lot of parfume on and talk with the funny accent. France is rubbish compared to Spain, Italy or Greece their monuments, food and wine is worth ZERO compared to Spanish, Italy and Greece….If you fall for the french trick you are an idiot there is absolutely nothing behind their facade…they are uncapable of true freindship with people from other European nations….french girls…..I rather not say anything.

      1. You are a racist idiot, Mauro. I don’t know what is the more despicable, arrogance or racism.

      2. Well what you said is simply absurd! to say France’s food and wine is worth zero compare to Greece and Italy is completely untrue and arrogant in itself! You just listed a series of absurd clichés “They put a lot of perfume on and talk with the funny agent”. I have no idea where you lived or how much time time you spent in France but you sound like a very frustrated close-minded person. Maybe afrustrated French person even actually! And your English is not that good at all!

    3. If the French are arrogant because of their history, then why aren’t the British perceived to be as arrogant? The British Empire was the largest in history, they made many of the most important scientific discoveries, their language has become the international standard, they defeated Napoleon, much of the modern world is shaped by their legacy, they did not surrender to Hitler etc etc? Asking as a Canadian (with a British monarch on our money).

      1. Because British culture is more self-deprecating, at least on the surface. It’s got a lot to do with the class system but you really aren’t supposed to blow your own trumpet here or look too proud of yourself, or people will think you’re stuck up and pretentious. Of course it doesn’t mean that people aren’t actually arrogant underneath that facade and we all know it but you should at least try to look down-to-earth and working class.

        France is kind of like that when it comes to material wealth (people will pretend to be poorer than they are and it’s considered crass to shove wealth and success in people’s faces) but you need to look clever and dominant and be able to hold your own in an argument, to get on in France.

      2. Brits are actually way more arrogant but in very subtle ways. They often use nuances in their speech to hint at how better they are than you while still smiling at you. This way of acting is actually much more annoying to me.

        I still cannot forget the words of my teacher in England when she “welcomed” us there for summer camp (I was a 12 year old schoolboy from Greece): “In England, we queue and we say thank you” (as if we were all savages who didn’t know any basic manners).

      3. I have noticed British arrogance n some instances – they are rich and used to getting what they want. After all they were the Empire! Maybe with the economic changes that is different. But they are also very POLITE which compensates for a variety of sins. And there is that wonderful humor.

    4. Article starting off interesting, then you had to throw in gender bullshit and feminist claims. Please, you make yourself look stupid, it’s such a shame…
      Ei Norsk berte…

      1. Do you really think that her saying males have it easier “to be acknowledged and respected” is gender bullshit? Feel free to move to France, Germany, Britain, … for some time and have a look for yourself. Women here earn less money per hour they work, they get interupted a whole lot more in conversations and people are more likely to follow instructions from a man than a woman. Those are not feminist claims, these are scientifically proven facts.

        Maybe I missed what else you are reffering to, otherwise your criticism is really unbased. While that doesn’t make you outright arrogant, it really makes yourself look stupid. What a shame.

    5. So how Greeks should behavor with the history they had?!! Philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, literature, theatre, olympics.

    6. I’m French too, and I was really sad reading this comment and these answers. I find it unfair to say that the French speak English badly because they chose it, it’s wrong, we just have a lot of trouble.

      (and I apologize for my mistakes I’m bad at English but I really like English culture!). It’s true that we do a lot of debates in France, but it’s simply a matter of culture, I think.

      And finally the most important no I’m not proud to be French I hope what you say is not true but ultimately I believe there is some truth.

      Now I’m almost ashamed to be French I’m sincerely sorry for your bad memories in France and I apologize for my spelling mistakes.

  1. Yesss… French people -although a very interesting culture- have a horrible attitude… everybody know… sorry. I really loved how Norwegians are.

      1. get over it, is not racism people cannot give numbers … that is human nature not racism … omg … you are a pin head that is not racism is an opinion LOL … do you really expect the world to like French people if they suck????? get used to

      2. It is you (and your kin) who is the arrogant French Racist, kindly start your engine, rev up, and Fuck Off,

        Kind Regards,


        PS, Speak Fluent French, Ye’re Just not worth the Bother, Arrogant Pricks

  2. Hello. I’m sure that everyone is now convinced that French people are so arrogant since a French person said it. Being French myself and having travelled and lived in different foreign countries, I’m sure that this isn’t true and that our image isn’t as bad as the French love to think and say. I met tons of people who travelled in France and who thought that people there are nice and helpful. As many, I think that the French culture holds a love for disdain and hierarchy that I hate. But spending time in foreign countries always makes me think that every society has a dark side that is easily hidden by very charming day-to-day habits.
    I also think that even if the French are sometimes more rude and arrogant that some others, there’s something charming in the fact that they always criticize their own country. But as in every other countries they don’t always like being insulted as part of a group, especially because some of them are trying hard to change the image they’re supposed to carry… Voilà, quoi.
    Oh, and last thing : we may have been elected the most unfriendly nation in the world, but it was an online poll that gathers random answers… If you take a look a the top ten, anyone who traveled in the US or in Germany would be very surprised.

    1. “…there’s something charming in the fact that they always criticize their own country.”

      I suppose. I’ve seen this self-deprecation many times, and thank goodness there is a smidge of it that pops up occasionally, because I find that it’s vastly overwhelmed by their unsolicited monologues about the superiority of the French language vs. English, the superiority of French food vs. “American food (which they don’t know well or at all),” and the endless bragging about the wine and cheese, which is often followed by a brilliant question like “Do you have good wine and cheese in __(not France)___?” I finally told my French husband (I’m American) after another evening of this with his family and friends, “France is a GIANT FARM. You SHOULD have good food and wine. Congrats, you do, but can a person get an ear break? What’s this need to constantly mention it?”

      France is a beautiful country with lots of great qualities, but humility is not a strong suit here.

      1. Yeah, they can dish it out but they can’t take it. They criticise France and French culture a lot but if you’re an outsider, particularly an ANGLO-SAXON you’d better not try saying the exact same things. I love them, I really do. But they do have a national chip on their shoulder about the English language and American culture becoming the globally dominant one instead of theirs.

      2. Yeah, they can dish it out but they can’t take it. They criticise France and French culture a lot but if you’re an outsider, particularly an ANGLO-SAXON you’d better not try saying the exact same things. Even though they are constantly complaining about Anglo culture this and that, which they don’t actually understand as well as they think they do. I love them, I really do. But they do have a national chip on their shoulder about the English language and American culture becoming the globally dominant one instead of theirs.

      3. I have been living and traveling in France a couple of years now. I love their culture and everything old and tangible and I look forward going to the many videgreniers, brocants and trocs every weekend /or even weekdays. French food is great but I think their cheeses tend to be a bit smelly.. I prefer Spanish cheese and Bask brebis cheese is also delicious. The French language is certainly not easy to pickup and seems at times very sophisticated.
        I did not have a lot of problems learning foreign languages in the past, I learned a variety of languages like Spanish, English, but also Mandarin, Bahasa Indonesia. I struggle with the French language, although I had it at highschool for 4/5 years, the French don’t seem to be as accomodating as eg the Spanish, I often have the feeling that they are not interested to get to know me! To me they always seem to be in a hurry while they take their time with their compatriots and I see them easily get along with each other, even in such a way that they often seem to act just to please each other which seem to be enforced by their conventional & collective way of thinking. Socially France is regarded as a collective society comparable to many Asian societies. I think I am disappointed and struggle with this sort of mindset, similar to what I experienced in HK and China, often their actions come over as intolerant and superior even as exceptional. I love French historic artefacts especially their 1900s antique they left for us to appreciate. When I see all these walls been built here in the past supposedly to keep foreign (English) armies out, like their wonderful walled chateaus, castles, and medieval villages, I can only assume that intolerance and ignorance must have been common in medieval times, I think to a lesser extent this is still the case today. Today the French in general I certainly do not take as arrogant but I think I do see them often come across as intolerant even xenophobic in language & cultural sense. I also wished the French would be a little bit less conventional I think their use of language creates barriers, sets people apart and seems dated. Again it’s what makes France special culturally now they should accept others’ cultures as equally important!

  3. I really like the way you write and described the comparison between French and Norwegian society. It’s very important to highlight well the subjects. I lived in France 17 years of my life, France gave me so much, many people call me “cocky” because of my arrogance. Some of my myriad of international friends consider me more French then French. I’ve grown up in a famile where education started on religious private school and if you were not adapting to it you’ve been put in the French School. That was my case!

    I’ve learn in France : have pride of my difference – ( porter ta différence avec fierté! ) thing here in Norway we cannot do ! When you listen to Rossi de Palma, actrice et model, made her speech in Cannes at the last day of festival , two years ago, she was proud to be different ( peculiar, extravagant, flamboyant, what else we can give other synonyms).
    Here in Norway everybody must look the same or not show that difference ! When in this tiny society appears have lack of symbols and heroes! Lufthansa in Germany made jokes about Norwegian Airlines because the company couldn’t find enough Norwegian celebrities to name their airplanes and started to add Danish or Swedish celebrities.

  4. Haha 🙂 love your self irony..and I love the French. After living there for four years, I do miss the french mentality up here in Norway sometimes.
    Just discovered your blog today…it is awesome!! Looking forward to read more of it! Greetings from Majorstuen, Ulrike 🙂

  5. I can only confirm the arrogance of French people, probably more those from Paris than from the rest of the country.

    I had a very bad experience lately traveling with them in an organized trip in an African country. Being myself from North Africa, I could not believe the extent of the arrogance of my French companions in the trip. Both their behavior with me (not accepting that I have a higher educational status, even though I tried to hide it to prevent problems, having previous experiences), and with the locals reflected how much they think they are the best.

    They could speak only French (while I spoke 5 languages), yet they missed no occasion to “correct” my French…

    I thought part of their problem is they keep carrying the “colon” attitude toward people from countries that France colonized (both my own country and the visited country). But from reading your blog, I think it’s not only that (even though it is also that).

    It was so funny (and sad) to hear them say how proud they were of French cuisine, French cheeses… when they could not trade their “butter and jam” breakfast for the local options of taster and healthier local breakfasts. When we travel, we better be open to try local food, discover local customs, not dragging our own customs… in that case, better stay home.

    Conclusion: I decided never again to travel with French people… bad for the French travel agencies…

    1. Your attempt to generalize a “one time”personal experience is pathetic at best. If you really want to see hardcore arrogance; most of Africa is on top of the list.

    2. “They could speak only French (while I spoke 5 languages), yet they missed no occasion to “correct” my French…”

      What I see in your comment, is that you are even more arrogant than French people.
      If arrogance is French, you head is certainly big like a watermelon.

      “I thought part of their problem is they keep carrying the “colon” attitude toward people from countries that France colonized”

      That’s totally wrong. French never colonized America, and American people complain about arrogance, so you are completely wrong.

      “not accepting that I have a higher educational status”

      Ouh, what a watermelon you have!

  6. Nice one! I am Bulgarian and I have lived in Iceland for many years. And speaking broadly, if you substitute French for Bulgarians and Norwegians for Icelanders you might get quite the same picture. I think arrogance (the way you describe it for the French is a kind of southern European thing) while being humble is typical Scandinavian. At the same time there are of course the differences, as you mentioned, between the countries who have been “the rulers” and “the ruled”. Both Bulgarians and Icelanders have an inferiority complex and in both countries you will hear a lot how it is the best place in the world to live in (in Bulgaria you also hear a lot about how it is the worst place in the world to live in, but that is another story). On the other hand, Danes, who are culturally very close to Norwegians, but were on the ruling side, are certainly more French-style arrogant in some ways than Norwegians are.
    A lot of generalizations here, but you probably know what I am talking about.

  7. The french are great in bed? I want a beautiful french woman to prove this to me the sooner the better. You are right in what you say that arrogance is just a facade for ignorance and stupidity. But I think this is universal. I respect people who has achieved greatness, possess intelligence and integrity whether they are arrogant or humble.
    People who blame Janteloven if they don’t get the respect they deserve, are always nobheads full of sh*t in my experience. Like Aune Sand and similar “geniuses”.
    I work with a man from Normandie and he is a great guy. Must be the Norman in him.

  8. I feel the need to comment this post because de historical reasons are a bit messed up.
    French arrogance (for the ones who believe in it) must be explain by other arguments than the colonial empires and the supremacy of France across Europe many years ago. Portugal also had an impressive extension of colonies and currently portuguese language is spoken all across the world (Brasil, Angola, Moçambique, some parts of India, Macau) and portuguese people (in general) don’t behave arrogantly…
    Those times when France had colonial empires go far back…of course they are more recent that the Viking Era or the Portuguese sailors overseas finding India, but still they are far away from having and important impact in they way those three nations behave and see themselves currently.

    Regarding this comment “I read that after World War II Norway was the poorest country of Europe with Portugal.” It might be true but that is a random coincidence – Norway was occupied during world war two; Portugal was not involved in the war, we had a dictatorship. And now Norway is quite rich and Portugal is poor. So how does this impact arrogance or lack of arrogance?!

    From my point of view logging on historical reasons to explain the arrogance of a nation is missing the point – the real reason hiding on the back of historical arguments is the policy of national education programs chosen for the nation. An another much more complex factor is the structure of society itself…
    One thing is for sure Norway and Portugal have a tradition of acceptance and being open minded about learning other languages and cultures. In Portugal emigration was always very common an that contributed to develop a national conscience on the importance of learning and respecting foreign languages and cultures.

    1. I think Margarida pointed something: all the courses given to the french kids concerning the History of the world converge to the history of France (Palaeolithic illustrated with the Lascaux caves, Roman empire through the Gallo-roman culture with Gaul pictured as the direct ancestor of France, Middle-age explained mostly across the architectures and battles on the pre-France territory, the Early modern period across the French Renaissance, adding to this the Age of Enlightenment with the estimated French philosophers etc.).
      I do not know how it is done in the foreign schools but it seems like the French program is very megalomaniac and very rarely teaches what is happening in the other countries. And the examples I am quoting below are only from the primary school program (http://cache.media.education.gouv.fr/file/32/09/0/encart_33090.pdf, page7).

      Another thing is the way how people are/were educated in France. Since the first step in school, kids are rewarded or punished with marks: your “goodness” or “badness” is quantified and compared to the rest of the class. If your number is lower than the one of your neighbour, you just worth less than him. Since the very beginning you are subject to a constant evaluation of your abilities and performances. I guess it rubs off on the daily life: if you do not say and show to everybody how brilliant you are, you have no chance to be recognized as such.

      1. Thanks Mélodie,

        Solid feedback, It could be such a lovely place,

        Alas, They are simply an arrogant shower of pricks

  9. haha that’s true but it’s also true that most frenchmen will say what they mean to your face, while most norwegian will be passive and not express themselves. Finding a balance is probably the key 🙂

  10. I am french and have been living in Norway since 5 years.
    I think i am spending 80% of my social interactions trying to repair this terrible reputation we have :P.
    When i came here, i decided at once i would absolutely avoid trying to meet any french and instead, just dive into the Norwegian culture to try to blend in and understand their perspectives. I learned Norwegian as fast as i could, bought some of these funny and beautiful typically norsk genser og alt som mulig.
    To be honest, there are still many aspects that i don’t get. Trying to read what they are thinking is impossible to me. “Bra” can mean anything from “it’s ok” to “this is the idea of the century”, which is a bit unsettling when you are used to the blunt way of the french.
    Though, i feel here at peace. Such a huge priceless peace. You can have a conversation without it turning into a battle of egos in 2 seconds, political debates are friendly. Friendly. I just cannot imagine in France a person from the right speaking with a person from the left in a peaceful manner and an argumentation that is not full of shitty rhetoric or lame under-the-belt attacks.
    The workplace is just the same. You are expected to work hard all the same of course, but you are not feeling like you are a slave that should feel happy to have gotten the job and thank the one that gave it to you 17 times a day.
    French people like fencing whenever possible. They are bragging. And funnily enough i miss it sometimes because this arrogance is also often just for a theatrical purpose (especially in Provence where i grew up).
    I guess we just have some weird ways to display our passion and identity.

    1. Cher Gynko, tu m’enlèves les mots de la bouche, c’est exactement pourquoi je vis ici aussi. Car bien que j’adore les debats et autres discussions enflammees, ici c’est très paisible. Ca me manque un peu des fois, comme à toi, mais on ne peut pas tout avoir paraît-il! Tu viens d’où en Provence? Je suis marseillaise

      1. oh, j’avais pas vu ta réponse.
        Ma famille est vers Hyères, dans le Var donc vraiment pas loin de “Mareuseilleu”.. On peut évidemment pas tout avoir, mais je crois que le niveau de verdeur de l’herbe est suffisamment bon pour me donner envie de rester un bon et long moment ici… Je vais d’ailleurs acheter mon Bunad dés que possible, j’économise pour les boutons en argent :p


  11. I discovered your blog quite recently, that is why I am commenting on almost all posts. This is a great blog and I enjoy reading it.

    Regarding this post. I completely agree with the below:

    “Then again, debates sometimes seem very politically correct in Norway, it lacks a bit of spice and confrontation for my taste.”

    This is so true for Norway, it is so difficult to get Norwegians to say anything that is politically incorrect (at least when they are sober), and discussions about politics, immigration, social problems are very dry and predictable. When I open up a topic to discuss, I almost always know beforehand what a Norwegian is going to say. It is not that they are boring or do not have opinions of their own, they are just to scared to express them, too worried to be perceived as a racist, sexist. However, if you really want to know what Norwegians think, just go and read the comment section in Dagbladet or VG.

  12. I am an Indian and my girl friend is from France. I never seen such a kind hearted person in my life before. She visited India many times. Here everybody likes her for her kindness. So I will not agree with this statement that FRENCH PEOPLE ARE ARROGANT . may be some people are arrogant but we can’t generalize.

  13. I concur with Aliya. They seem to dwell in their past. And see themselves above the rest…younger people sometimes cooler but often unwillingly carry this attitude.

  14. Obviously, you haven’t lived long enough in Norway to be subjected to the real nastiness of Norwegian arrogance. It might not be as obvious as the French style arrogance, but I can assure you it is as poisonous as the French kind. When I think about it, it is probably worse.

    1. It hurts me to say you are right…there can be arrogance here too, it is just much harder to sense for a foreigner like me 🙂

  15. To me, the French are alright, there is nothing bad about them. I have met some decently friendly French people during vacation. They are maybe not as friendly as British/Americans, but they are definitely not really the worst either.

    But the only problem that I have with the French is that I sometimes cannot understand what they are saying because they don’t want to speak other language besides French. That is why when I talked to the French people that I met at vacation, I have to open up google translator to help me speaking French with them.

  16. My mum:

    My daughter sent me this blog entry, I suppose primarily because it is well written and funny, but maybe also because I keep telling her exactly the same.

    Obviously, and as some blogger mentioned in their answer, not ALL Froggies are arrogant. And sometimes their arrogance is only their way to be funny.

    Having said that, I have lived in different countries and I have often felt the same way as Foginthefjord and find it sometimes difficult when going back to France.

    True, I am spoiled. I live now in Australia, near the beach and people here are more concerned about finding the right wave to surf or the best coffee to take away before going for a walk along the beach than about showing off.

    I still regularly listen to French podcasts though and often think from what I hear that

    1) people ARE arrogant about their knowledge and easily make fun of others, if they don’t share their knowledge

    2) the required knowledge in France is very narrow channeled and mostly based on French culture. In short, not know where Hervé Bazin was born might provoke taunts, but not knowing who is Jane Austen will not be seen as a lack of erudition.

    Also, there is a ranking when it comes to evaluate knowledge:

    1) literature

    2) history

    3) politics

    4) famous people

    5) science

    6) foreign culture

    Number one being obviously the more valued.

    Having said that, I still love hearing French people being arrogant, because it mostly comes with wit and fun and pep. I just choose not to be arrogant myself. That’s all

    (ahah, that WAS something arrogant to say)

  17. Arrogance comes in different shapes and forms.
    I haven’t been in France long enough to know differences. But Canadians who travel between Canadian provinces and Quebec, will often convey outside of Montreal, francophones don’t necessarily automatically switch to English even if they know the language.

  18. Ah, the arrogance of the French!
    How much don’t I love to rub it in the face of a friend of mine who’s half English and half French…
    He’s got a kid with an Italian woman by the way. Living in Malta.

    My first encounter with French local culture was my first night in Paris many years ago.

    Went out for a meal in Montparnasse. Was treated with hospitality by the people at the next table. A guy and two girls showed my that not all French are stuck ups with a bottle of Bordeaux up their behind…
    Getting piss drunk in Paris is an interesting experience. I can certainly understand the attraction which Olaf Bull felt when Prohibition kicked in.

  19. Hi, I have a question. Since they are so proud of their country and everything.
    – Are they willing to learn other’s country or even curious about other country? or they don’t even care about it?
    – Are they not like foreigners? For dating, are they mostly will just prefer Norwegian?
    I mean in majority of them…Will they not trust about others country product and everything?

  20. The French, arrogant? Definitely. Insecure? Definitely. Intelligent? Definitely. Hardworking? Not convinced, but you all make good cheese. Great article. J’adore !

    1. I hate this “The French are.. “, “The American are…, it’s the beginning of racism. French are not more insecure than intelligent. I don’t think we could label a whole country as “intelligent”, they are not, or “insecure”.

  21. I went to Paris around 10 years ago and felt the french had a sense of self importance no matter what their status which to me is good for mental health. In America those who wait tables, work in retail are treated as inferior. This did not happen in France. I generally was treated well. I was able to get by with my French. However, I had to rescue my daughter several times once when she could not get her order in a cafeteria and I had to go and intervene with my French. However, generally I was treated positively even though my French is not at a high level. I would love to return, it is a high light of my travel. I actually found the British to be quite rude and confrontational on occasion. If they worked in the United States they would be fired for insubordination.

    1. honestly i went to the uk in the summer and omg how arrogant people there is, super rude if you have broken english, super racist towards ”pakis” and ”slavs” super igonorant of other cultures, i went back home to mexico and everyone was like omg you became so racist, and i did notice i brought back this horrible attitude i got from the british

      1. Eh, if people are taking the piss out of you in Britain, then they like you. If they’re being super polite to you then that’s more of an insult. No excuse for the P-slur though.

  22. This guys is freaking genius!! Two sentences:
    -“We were once the kings of this world…we miss it”
    – I realised that arrogance is just a way to hide one’s ignorance and insecurity”

    WOW! Counldn’t be more true

  23. When I came to France where I have now spent more than 50 years I soon found the country to be very different from what we learned in school in the late 40’ies. That Norway exports stockfish to France because they have to eat fish every Friday, and that they drink wine because water is not drinkable.

    Arrogance is not so much an outstanding caracteristic. More so, as my brother said, first time he visited me: “Her er folk ikke redde for å drite seg ut”. Or in polite English: Here people are not afraid of making fools of themselves.

  24. This is a much later post but all I can say after a two week holiday in Paris from hell (thank you you mean little Frenchies), that French men are the worst I have ever encountered. If they behaved that way in Australia, they would likely to be punched by an Australian man for being disrespectful. As for being great lovers – what a load of nonsense. People who are not compassionate cannot be good lovers. I wouldn’t romantically go within 100 feet of a French man. Their arrogance and utter rudeness is such a complete turn-off. As it is with the women. There is no softness / vulnerability that I can discern that would make them truly attractive. In Australia I don’t know anyone who is married to a French person. Seriously – get over yourselves. It’s actually quite sad.

  25. I really understand why French are arrogant. There are so much racist comment, and hateful comments about French people on that page (I don’t talk about humorous, ironical comments, but truly hate comments), that anyone could understand how to be more and more arrogant as a defence. Go on like this, and you will find people more and more arrogant, this is a vicious circle.

    @Jessica You only went in a part of France, I guess Paris. You cannot generalize like that. I saw very racist Australian, people who were disgustingly racist, I do not generalize, and always welcome something who is not from my country. I try to know the person before putting a label on their front.

    I’m happy I’m not like you, I’m happy to not judge someone according to their nationality. I’ve seen so many people of different nationalities and ethnicities behave very badly in my life, but the one who make generalization “all the people” are like that, are the worse.

  26. there is a difference between being perceived as smart and confident and being preceived as trying your best to be smart and confident, and almost every country can detect that. I’d say if you re a teenager or young adult who hasn’t fully grown into a hollistic intellectual being, you can employ the second method, because you re unaware of it, and it can bring you attention. But if you re mature enough, you will know arrogance is working against you coz it shows your insecurity. And people can detect this intuitively.

    1. like the way everyone here ius showing their arrogance?? critizing and bullying a country and dont see the irony of it? like seriously dude the french and the brits arent that much different in question of matters, in fact all europeans are pretty similar in the way they treat each other and other, but got I’m done reading english articles, always bashing, always racist and ignoran

  27. Omg are english people really that hateful and arrogant? I’ve been to both france and england and english people are usually more arrogant, they usually are always talking shit about other countries and comparing themselves always pointing out of how great england is and omg you guys cant be more hypocritical criticizing a country while showing the same attitude you say this country has?? for my fellow french poeple just to let you know here in mexico we are used to english speakers ignorance, dont pay attention to this ignoran racist english people, here in mexico we knoe french people are super nice and warm and welcoming like any other romance culture unlike english racist culture

  28. Great fun reading, although I cannot agree nor disagree 100% with any of the generalizations.
    I love Norway, but living here and understanding the culture fully and the language rather fluently gives a different perspective as the Norwegian «slights» are often embedded in what you don’t say, how you actually say things and tonal inflection. Most foreigners and new immigrants have little idea that they have been insulted.

  29. Not sure if this post is supposed to be ironical or not, given that it’s full of ignorance and misconceptions. That being said, one clearly has to be blind or live in denial to believe that Norwegians are not arrogant.

    Norwegians are extremely nationalist and usually have a narrow vision of the world, which are often very good drivers of arrogance. Their nationalism have always stopped them from joining the EU, thinking that the EU would damage their country — known as the “best in the world” (according to Norwegians, of course) — and that they can fare better all alone. Yet, this outsider of a country that doesn’t want to do things like its neighbours gladly takes all the advantages the EU has to offer. Reminds me of a small island, also famous for its arrogance, that recently decided to leave the EU. Decision fuelled by nationalist pride and longing for the past. How Fren… oh wait!

    The Norwegians are a nation that believes it can do everything better than everyone. Every once in a while, I’m treated with a “Norwegian are the most warming and friendly people, they are the best at doing music, sport, parties, etc.” or “Norway has the best economy, the best culture, language, food, social and healthcare systems, etc.” They even dared to call one of their cake “verdens beste” (literally “the world’s best [cake]”). Seriously Norway?!

    And the arrogance is visible in other societal aspects like environmental awareness. When most nations understand the necessity to reduce their footprint on ecosystems, the current mentality here in Norway is more like “why would we have to save energy when we can afford wasting it?”.

    The author, who seems to have a strong complex of inferiority (and seemingly poor knowledge of history), confuses everything from arrogance, social recognition, intellectual knowledge and success. She then apparently decided to insult and label as arrogant anyone who speaks his/her mind or looks/sounds more successful/cultivated than her. Maybe she could have tried entering an elite school and go tell her boss “I’m better than you ’cause I graduated from Sciences Po you piece of sh*t” to get her a promotion… or a visit to the local unemployment office.

    1. Oh, please. I didn’t personally vote brexit, but imperialism and longing for the past had nothing to do with it. It was the poorest, deindustrialised working class areas who voted to leave (just look at Wales) while the affluent middle classes voted to stay. It’s these arrogant bourgeois remainers who won’t shut up about “the top table” and global power and status, despite claiming not to care about these things. They’ve always sneered at the British working classes as culturally inferior to continental Europeans, and those working classes backlashed. I’m from an old Durham mining town and the idea that the people there are arrogant imperialists longing for the 19th century is just laughable. Honestly, I read Christophe Guilluy (who I know is controversial in France) but there’s a lot he says about la France périphérique that’s relevant to us too.

      Supporting the EU is not a mark of humility. It’s a way for former European superpowers to hang on to global dominance by pooling it. I personally think we’d have been better off staying but please don’t pretend it’s some kind of benevolent anti-imperialist institution.

  30. At the end of the day, all countries have some degree of pride and exceptionalism. Maybe this isn’t actually a bad thing. Maybe it’s perfectly normal. In the Anglosphere and increasingly elsewhere in western Europe, it’s fashionable for the metropolitan progressive bourgeoisie who identify as “citizens of the world” to make a haughty show of hating their own countries and their histories, but this is really just another kind of arrogance masquerading as humility. A progressive justification for some old-fashioned bigotry against the working classes.

  31. Con in French literally means c*nt. This meaning is old-fashioned (not archaic) which is why it no longer refers to female genitalia BUT it is why men invented it as a vulgar insult and people still know the meaning (think b*tch or p*ssy in English – both degrading and we still know the original meaning – a female dog and a pet to be owned and tamed). The casual use of inherently misogynistic language shows how much the French hate women, so it shouldn’t be surprising how typical it is for men to mumble insults at women in the street, just as they pass them, being as cowardly as possible. All swear words have a literal meaning, which is what makes them vulgar (connard for men/connasse for women – both coming from con or c*nt). If women encourage this trash, men will never respect them, as we can all see.

  32. This article is on point and very accurate. As a French man who spent 6 years of his life abroad and came back home 3 years ago, I can only subscribe to your point of view, as Sting says.

    I was blown up by the humility, intelligence and modesty I encountered in the countries I had the chance to visit and live in as an expat, while coming back to France was a sheer ordeal in terms of social environment.

    I don’t quite get why arrogance, even when there’s literally nothing behind, is so valued here. Might be a matter of intelligence and social discernment of the average population, who knows …

  33. What abt the US empire? The mecca of hustlers and hucksters. No values, other than war mongering, imperialism, and massive taxes/complicated forms/tons of fees-penalties?

  34. I’m pretty shocked about this article and the comments. I lived years in France in different cities and what you describe is more, for me, a ‘Parisian’ way of living than a French way of being. Even trough French, Parisian have this reputation of being, more French than the French themselves and seeing the world and even France from their castle (Versailles). Being arrogant and self centred always been one of the main characteristic of the ‘elite’ of Paris. Not of the French.

    1. Yep. People of the countryside are in general calm and cool people. But in France there are many arrogant old people however, baby boomers… They make a bad reputation for France unfortunately… I have encountered many and I wanted to slap them (I contained myself hahaha ) ! 😂

  35. OH MY GOD. This was so useful! You cannot imagine how much relief I feel for finally undertanding WHY. Why do norwegians behave so conformed like that. And now there’s a plausible explanation for it. Sometimes is really difficult to just have to “fit in” wanting to “stand out”, that definitely explains a lot. Thank you so much for your blog, as a foreigner living in Norway, it is helping me so much to understand the culture on a deeper level!! I’ll definitely buy the book <3

  36. Nowhere is French arrogance more evident, with decided racism as part of the mix, than in Asia and Africa. It is NOT to be tolerated or considered amusing. It is to be called out on all occasions where it is blatantly applied by so many people who have been steeped in their elitism for so many generations. To hell with France! Clean up your manners & hopefully your reputation. Beyond this posting, I have no strong opinions on the matter.

  37. I was born and raised in France, I left for the US in 1990. Each time I travel back, to see family mainly, I’m struck by how unmanageable the French are. Never happy, always complaining, and yes arrogant, always feeling superior, clinging to some idiotic items in their culture, such as foie gras and baguette. And now with this reforme des retraites, they are intimately convinced that their country, which export less than Italy, can afford to have them retire at age 62 while the rest of the world, including the most performant economies in Europe, Holland, Germany, Sweden, etc all retire at 65 or older. The French are immature in their expectation. They want all the goodies and toys brought by globalisation but think they shouldn’t work to get them.

    1. Raised in France? So the education should be not so bad and afforded you to find a job abroad…and you know what ? Keep your bitter mind , France doesn’t miss you.

    2. I’m French too, and I was really sad reading this comment and these answers. I find it unfair to say that the French speak English badly because they chose it, it’s wrong, we just have a lot of trouble.

      (and I apologize for my mistakes I’m bad at English but I really like English culture!). It’s true that we do a lot of debates in France, but it’s simply a matter of culture, I think.

      And finally the most important no I’m not proud to be French I hope what you say is not true but ultimately I believe there is some truth.

      Now I’m almost ashamed to be French I’m sincerely sorry for your bad memories in France and I apologize for my spelling mistakes.

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