The French president was speaking during a trip to Denmark this week when he spoke of his admiration of the Danish economic model which combines both flexibility and security (flexisécurité) when it came to jobs – in other words mixes a strong social security system with rules allowing companies to easily fire workers.
Speaking to French expatriats Macron went on to speak about the differences in the French and Danish cultures, which he believes have prevented France from following a similar model to Denmark.
“Let's not be naive,” said Macron. “What's possible is linked to a culture, a people who are the product of their history.
“These Lutheran (protestant) people (Danish) who have experienced transformations in recent years are not exactly the Gauls, who are resistant to change (Gaulois refractaires au changement),” said Macron, using a term for the ancient tribes that roamed France more than 2000 years ago.
Opposition politicians lined up to blast Macron for showing “contempt” towards the French people.
“The 'Gauls' will be happy to respond to his arrogance and contempt”, said Marine Le Pen.
Former minister for the right wing Republicains party Eric Woerth said Macron should not “complain”about his people.
Other politicians accused him of “humiliating” and “mocking” the French public.
It's not the first time Macron has had a dig at the French during a trip abroad for their apparent resistance to change.
Last year on a trip to Romania he said the French “hated reforms”.
And then last September on a trip to Greece he said: “France is not a country which is open to reforms.”