Named and shamed: The French who bash France

The Local
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Named and shamed: The French who bash France

Finance Minister Michel Sapin recently told The Local that what hurts the most is French-bashing by the French themselves. So we've identified some of the main Gallic culprits of French-bashing that will be on Sapin's watch list.


"What I really don’t like is French-bashing by the French themselves. They are often the hardest on France," the minister told The Local recently.

“I sometimes see more positive judgments on France coming from abroad rather than within France.”

So who are the most prominent French French bashers?

There's so many who move abroad and take a swipe at their their home country from across the Channel or the Atlantic Ocean, but we've narrowed it down to six, some of whom you'll know, others you may not.

1. Eric Zemmour:

(Eric Zemmour (right) signs copies of his new book French Suicide)

Undoubtedly the basher-in-chief. Zemmour's book "The French suicide - the 40 years that defeated France", a ruthless indictment of contemporary France, has been at the top of the bestseller lists since it came out in October.

It blames the country’s woes on immigrants who refuse to integrate, on rampant political correctness that kills all debate, and on supranational organisations like the European Union.

Its success has confirmed Zemmour as the leader of a group of so-called “neo-reactionnaires”. Critics denounce him as sexist, homophobic and Islamophobic.

Gérard Dépardieu:

The larger than life actor’s most recent attack on his native land came in October, when he said France desperately needed a change of leadership to halt its decline under President François Hollande.

“If we continue like this, France will be a new Disney World, it will be France World, people will wear berets, and Chinese tourists will come and touch their moustaches and their big noses.”

He famously set up residence in Belgium in 2012, and has since explained that French “people are jealous of success” and he left the country because he thought “they were going to shave my head, like a collaborator (of the Nazis) in 1945”.

Le Figaro newspaper:

The conservative newspaper was accused of behaving like the official government mouthpiece during the right-wing Nicolas Sarkozy’s stint as president. But since François Hollande came to power in 2012, it has enthusiastically taken to French-bashing, blaming the current Socialist president for leading the nation on a road to ruin. Its daily diet of angled news stories and opinion pieces dissect Hollande’s policies and find them severely wanting.

Carlos Diaz:

An entrepreneur who founded a group called “les Pigeons”, French slang for fall guys, or suckers, which rebelled against President Hollande’s planned doubling of capital gains tax to 60 percent last year and other allegedly “business-crushing” measures. Diaz has however calmed down a little, and even gave Hollande a hug this year when the president was on a trip to Silicon Valley

Nicolas Baverez:

A leading figure in the so-called declinist group of intellectuals who chart what they see as France’s slow descent from its long-held place as one of the great nations of the world.

The titles of his books - such as La France qui tombe (Fall of France) or Nouveau monde, vieille France (New World, Old France) - make his stance pretty clear.

His latest, Lettres béninoises, is a work of fiction that depicts a bankrupt France in 2040 to which the head of the International Monetary Fund is dispatched to see if he can salvage anything.

EX-France international footballers:

France has a strange relationship with its national team players. It tends to be either love - like when they win the World Cup, or complete hate - like when they don't. 

As a result some of the team's players have taken to French bashing with varied degrees of enthusiasm.

Emmanuel Petit, the retired football player for the national team didn’t mince his words recently when he spoke about France’s treatment of Thierry Henry, whom he played alongside in the team that won the 1998 World Cup on home soil. “France is hypocritical and cowardly. Sometimes I think that if we’d been overrun by the Germans, we’d be better run,” he said.

And just in case he wasn’t getting his message through, he followed up with: “I have great difficulty with the French, I have never seen such arrogant, smug, lying and hypocritical people.”

Then there's Samir Nasri, another ex-international who has had a go at his country, from the safety of England , where he plies his trade with Manchester City. 

"France has changed a lot and I don't like it," he said. He was talking specifically about the French attitudes towards Muslims had changed: "The French are turning against Muslims. It's scary. It wasn't like that 20 years ago."

But the cherry on the cake came when he said: "I love England. I love London. This is where I see my future."

But that's nowhere near as bad as what Nasri's English girlfriend Anara Atanes said about France. 


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