Snobs, beaches and drunks - 5 things this joke map teaches us about France

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
Snobs, beaches and drunks - 5 things this joke map teaches us about France
People walk on the beach as seagulls fly at sunset in Le Touquet, northern France (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

A popular joke 'map' of France, widely shared on social media, has sparked endless jokes at the expense of certain regions of France.


But while the map - created by - is clearly intended to be comic, it teaches us some important points about France's regional divides, local stereotypes and in-jokes.


Here are some of the key points.

1. Everyone hates Parisians

The map is purportedly France as seen through the eyes of Parisians, and contains a series of snobbish and rude generalisations about every part of France that is not maison (home) in the capital and its surroundings. The great majority of the country is labelled simply as paysans (peasants).

The general stereotype about Parisians is that they are snobs, rudely judging the rest of the country which they regard as backwards and full of ploucs (yokels) apart from small areas which make nice holiday destinations.

Like all sweeping generalisations, this is true of some people and very much not of others, but one of the few things that can unite people from all areas of France is how much they hate les parigots têtes de veaux (a colloquialism that very roughly translates as 'asshole Parisians')


2. Staycations rule

Holidaying within France has been the norm for many French people for generations.

As the map shows, Parisians regard the southern and western coastlines as simply plages (beaches) which they decamp to for at least a month in July or August. In the height of summer French cities tend to empty out (apart from tourists) as locals head to the seaside or the countryside.

READ ALSO Do France's traditional summer holiday tribes still exist?

In winter the Pyrenees and Alps are popular ski destinations.

3. Northerners like a drink

There is a very widespread stereotype, although not really backed up by evidence, that the people of Normandy, Brittany and the Nord area like a drink or two. Many suggest this is to cope with the weather, which does tend to be rainier than the rest of France (although has plenty of sunshine too).

READ ALSO Does it really rain all the time in Brittany?

Official health data doesn't really back this up, as none of these areas show a significantly greater than average rate of daily drinkers, although Nord does hold the sad record for the highest rate of people dying from alcohol-related liver disease.

What's certainly true is that Brittany and Normandy are cider country, with delicious locally-produced ciders on sale everywhere, well worth a try if you are visiting.

4. Poverty

The map labels the north eastern corner of France as simply pauvres - the poor.

The north east of the country was once France's industrial and coal-mining heartland, and as traditional industries have declined there are indeed pockets of extreme poverty and high unemployment. The novel The End of Eddy, telling the story of novelist Edouard Louis' childhood in a struggling small town near Amiens, lays out the social problems of such areas in stark detail.

However poverty is not just confined to one corner of France and the département that records the highest levels of deprivation is actually Seine-Saint-Denis in the Paris suburbs.

5. Southern prejudice

According to the map, those from the south are either branleurs (slackers) or menteurs (liars). 

This isn't true, obviously, there are many lovely, hard-working and truthful people in southern France, but the persistent stereotype is that they are lazy - maybe because it's too hot to do much work - and slightly shifty.

Even people who aren't actually rude about southerners can be pretty patronising, as shown by the reaction to former PM, Jean Castex. 

Castex has a noticeable south west accent which sparked much comment from the Paris-based media and political classes, with comments ranging from the patronising - "I love his accent, I feel like I'm on holiday" - to the very patronising - "that accent is a bit rugby" (a reference to the fact that TV rugby commentators often come from France's rugby heartlands in the south west).

READ ALSO Why all the snobbery around French regional accents?

In his first year as PM, Castex undertook a dizzying schedule of appointments around the four corners of France and since leaving Matignon he has taken on the ambitious task of sorting out the problems of Paris' RATP public transport network, so hopefully the lazy myth can now be put to bed.


And anyone tempted to take the piss out of his accent - glottophobie (accent prejudice) is now a crime in France.

For more maps that reflect France, head to


Comments (3)

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Anonymous 2021/07/06 00:30
It's not the translation I had 50 or more years ago and is said to cause blindness. It begins with a ₩ and ends with an r !
  • Anonymous 2021/07/06 15:18
    I think no-one who has ever watched an episode of Spiral/Engrenages can be mistaken about the real meaning.
Anonymous 2021/07/05 20:05
Your translation of 'branleurs' as 'slackers' is, to say the least, euphemistic.
charles_603522409f9ab 2021/07/05 19:55
Unfortunately it looks like the unscientific misinformation spread by the vegan community is now aimes at reducing consumption two of France’s highest quality and most nutritious foods: meat and dairy. By implementing managed grazing as Allan Savory has taught, ruminants can graze in marginal climates where it is difficult to raise vegetables sustainably and at the same time draw down Historic Carbon. Ruminants properly raised are a climate positive and more profitable for the farmer/rancher. This will preserve France’s position as producing the highest quality cheese and meat and reduce greenhouse gasses faster than vegetable crop monocultures which require more pesticides and fertilized inputs. This should be the area of focus and not the restriction on ruminants which can turn “straw into gold” with no chemical inputs by producing nutritious and delicious meats and cheese from otherwise inedible weeds and agricultural byproducts such as straw.

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