Skip to comments.Is There More Than A Whiff Of Truth About Gallic Charm
Posted on 10/08/2005 6:00:03 PM PDT by blam
Is there more than a whiff of truth about Gallic charm?
By Kim Willsher in Paris
It is one of the most enduring and insulting of national stereotypes: the Frenchman as a workshy character whose unpleasant body odours owe as much to his aversion to soap as to his love of garlic and onions.
The French dismiss such talk as no more than cruel caricature, dreamt up by their beer-swilling, overweight and perfidious English neighbours. Now a leading French journal has produced figures suggesting that it may be closer to the truth than anyone except perhaps rush-hour passengers on the Paris metro might ever have imagined.
PY Gerbeau dismissed the statistics as ridiculous
A booklet published by the weekly Le Point magazine draws on a mixture of polling information and academic research to paint a sometimes surprising and not always flattering picture of Gallic daily life.
Among the statistics contained in 24 Hours in France An Unusual Portrait of France and the French is the fact that only one in 10 of the population regularly uses soap, while almost one in 25 admit that they never shower or bath, and one in 33 say they never brush their teeth.
No wonder, perhaps, that nine out of 10 French women and half of all French men apply perfume and cosmetics every day, spending 17·7million (£12·4million) between them. The French do spend long periods in the bathroom: between 48 and 56 minutes each day, according to the figures. Yet much of this is apparently devoted to pursuits other than cleanliness. While in there, one third say they read and one quarter that they daydream. A further 14 per cent make telephone calls, eight per cent sing, six per cent smoke and one in 100 eats.
Last night Pierre-Yves PY Gerbeau, the chief executive of X-Leisure, who came to Britain in 2000 to run the Millennium Dome and stayed even after that project flopped, dismissed the Le Point statistics as ridiculous, bloody annoying and unhelpful. Mr Gerbeau, who once described himself as a short, fat and ugly Frenchman, declared: This idea of the 'Frog who doesnt wash, has a baguette on his head and a string of onions around his neck is passé, déjà vu. Its about as real as the Englishman in his pinstripe suit and bowler hat.
However, Mr Gerbeau, who is married to an Englishwoman, refused to describe his own bathing regime, or to comment on another of Le Points statistics that offers an insight into another myth. While Frenchmen not least the 39-year-old Mr Gerbeau are unquestionably charming, their reputation as tireless lovers is undermined by the revelation that they make love on average once every four days.
The French fondness for downing tools is illustrated by the fact that around 2,000 are, on average, on strike each day of whom 1,384 are in the transport industry producing one new industrial dispute and two strike warnings across Frances celebrated rail network every day.
This was one fact Mr Gerbeau was prepared to admit. Now this is serious, he said. The French economy is a total disaster and it is one reason I live in the UK. Theres not one politician prepared to take them [the unions] on, as Mrs Thatcher did in Britain during the 1980s.
To forget their woes, each day 2·4 million French people take mood-altering prescription drugs and more than 550 have facelifts or other plastic surgery. About 450,000 smoke cannabis every day. On the streets of Paris where, according to Le Point, the citys 200,000 dogs deposit 16 tons of dirt on the pavements every day a group of students was happy to discuss personal hygiene. I dont know about the others but I shower every day, said one 19-year-old. A couple of the boys with her looked sheepish. Having said that, one of my friends forgot his toothbrush when we went away on holiday, she added. We had to really insist that he went and bought another one.
Even Gerard Depardieu, one of Frances best-known actors, has contributed to the smelly stereotype in his films including Boudu, released in March, where he played the part of a tramp. An internet site of anti-French jokes shows that, whatever the truth, the stereotype is thriving. Whats the best place to hide your money? it asks, providing the obvious answer: Under a Frenchmans soap.
What's this I hear about Garlic Charm?
Where did this love of un-cleanliness come from? The proto-Celts? The Franks? The Visigoths?
This still doesn't explain why French tanks have four reverse gears and one forward however.
It may be cruel, it may be brutal, but if it's true, you can say it.
"the Frenchman as a workshy character whose unpleasant body odours owe as much to his aversion to soap as to his love of garlic and onions."
I just like seeing it in print.
France = Cooties Central
Based on the time I spent there - cold, drafty bathrooms with very little hot water and next to no water pressure.
Hey, if the phew fits.
Yeah, French plumbing is pretty poor, even when compared with the Brits'.
Not my fault.
Though I'd drop soap flakes and water from the skies on them if I invaded.
If "cleanliness is next to Godliness", do you think the french are going ANYWHERE near it? ;)
I smell a Kerry in there somewhere.
Don't know. It's my opinion that many Europeans contain the 'dirty-gene,' lol.
They got it from the Vandals...
At least they had valid reasons back then...
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