The five things the French find most annoying about Brits

France and Britain - near neighbours and (mostly) friendly rivals, but what do the French really think of their cross-Channel pals? We asked French writer Olivia Sorrel Dejerine to do some research.

The five things the French find most annoying about Brits
The friendly rivalry between Britain and France continues. Photo: AFP

Let's get one thing clear from the start, in general the French are kindly, warm and welcoming to the many British people who decide to move to France, trading Marmite, rain and proper curry for sunshine, fine wine and 1,000 different types of cheese.

But there is always a little friction between different cultures, so when we asked our French friends what they really thought, these are the top five (affectionate) complaints that they listed.

Everyone in France is a sensible, restrained and elegant drinker. Sure. Photo: AFP

1. Booze

The French love wine – rouge, blanc, and especially rosé when summer comes. Generally speaking, it would be fair to say that the Frenchies enjoy a drink.

However, the French people we spoke to seemed to believe they always did it reasonably and elegantly, and only considered the British as being heavy drinkers.

“They are pissed all the time,” said Baptiste, 32.

“They always have red cheeks,” said Charlotte, 30.

Not only do the Brits drink too much, but – quelle horreur – they don’t even drink good alcohol.

“They love red wine, but rarely drink one that is good,” lamented Nicolas, 43.

2. Attitude

It's a well-worn cliché that the French are arrogant, but actually that character trait came as one of the top bug-bears French people have about les Anglo-Saxons. The French people we talked to complained of the British being big-headed, strict and uptight.

“They think way too highly of themselves,” said Eric, 63.

“Everything shocks them and they are quite moralistic,” said Margaux, 30.

Brits were also seen as difficult to get.

“It’s complicated to figure out what they think,” said Caroline, 34.

“There is too much fake chit chatting,” said Gedi, 31 who lived in London for nine years.

And while the British may cherish their individuality, one Frenchman listed this as their most annoying trait.

“They do nothing like the others – they don't drive on the right, they didn't want the euro, they voted Brexit, they have a kingdom, they eat supper early,” said Clément.

British food does not get the thumbs-up in France. Photo: AFP

3. Food

When it comes to the relationship the French have with food, saying it is passionate barely scratches the surface. 

No matter which region of France, people will be proud of their local spécialités and of course, brag about it.

But even for Frenchies who don’t really care about gastronomy (they are quite rare but they exist), British food seemed to have left an impression. 

When asked about the British, it seemed most of our respondents thought of their first food experience in Britain – which probably happened during a school trip.  

“They don’t realise their food is disgusting,” said Baptiste.

 “They have supper at 5pm, I don't understand that,” said Margaux.

While Clément made a remark about the iconic “tea time”. “The fact they have “tea time” annoys me,” he said.

4. Language

In studies comparing levels of English across Europe, France generally does quite badly.

Although progress has been made (the younger generations generally have a much higher standard of English than people in their 60s), it is still safe to say that most people in France don’t have a great level of English.

But if there is one nation consistently worse at language-learning than France, it's the UK.

“They have a terrible accent”, said Charlotte.

Clément, on the contrary, thought the accent sounded good but it was just that he didn’t understand a word.

“I think they have an elegant accent, but they give the impression they are going to sneeze every time they say a syllable,” he said.

5. History

Britain and France are often referred as “historic rivals” with a legendary conflict that dates back a thousand years.

And it seems like French kids really listen in history class as many of the adults we spoke to mentioned the Hundred Years' War (1337 to 1453 – maths was clearly in its infancy back then) and the death of Joan of Arc (1431).

“They burned Joan of Arc”, said Claire, 25.

Adrien, 30, mentioned the Battle of Waterloo. He said this defeat was so important for him he “refused to stop at the Waterloo train station in London”.

But before we get too carried away trying to restart the Hundred Years' War, we should point out that the French do like many things about the Brits; their tailoring skills, their open mindedness when it comes to clothing, their music and (importantly for any Brits reading this article) their sense of humour. 





Member comments

  1. What about what the French find appalling about Americans?

    I can tell that the editors of this publication are brits but considering that there are at least 100,000 Americans in France, maybe it’s time to slant SOME MORE articles toward the interest of US. readership? Or have a dedicated British section altogether as you currently have for Sweden for example?
    I do enjoy reading your articles daily as a subscriber very much.
    Stephanie from Los Angeles

  2. As a British person I’m sick to death of seeing bastardised American English spelling and pronunciation.PRIME EXAMPLES sok for sock, color for colour
    and of course jaguar DON”T AMERICANS SEE THE “U” ???
    It’s pronounced JAG U AR NOT NOT NOT JAGWIRE !!! ok rant over

  3. And as John Cleese would say “dont mention the you know what” which Charles won all by himself.

  4. If you look at the shopping trolleys of the average French family they are seemingly mostly full of processed items. No different than the UK.

    But I have to say that when I was back in the UK and was in a major Waitrose I was appalled at the lack of choice. E.Leclerc beats Waitrose hands down. Grand Frais is also good.

    Weirdly E.Leclerc often deletes item ranges completely – for example, cooking olive oil just vanished as has Lavazza il Mattino coffee just recently.

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