Saturday, January 17, 2009

Can't we all just get along?

The times, they are a changin', hopefully, with the door soon to be hitting George W Bush in the backside, the start of a new chapter in American history, etc., etc.

Living in France during the Bush administration has been about as fun as a cold shower on a winter's day in Siberia. All I could do was sit back and watch as Franco-American relations reached an all-time low.

Between the playground name calling (cheese-eating surrender monkeys, Old Europe), the francophopia (freedom fries and freedom toast), and the calls for 'Iraq first, France next!', it was often difficult to defend my reasons for living in France to family and friends back in the States.

There's a naive hope that things can only get better and that the relationship between the two countries will turn friendly again. Even if it's just to satisfy my selfish desire to live comfortably as an American expat in France.

I hope that the Bush administration's parting shot at the French, the tripling of import duties on Roquefort cheese, will be the last of the political taunting we'll see for awhile. (And Lord knows we certainly don't need José Bové all fired up again.)

I recently came across a handbook that was issued by the US military to GI's arriving in France at the end of WWII, called 112 Gripes about the French, or in French, Nos Amis les Français. The purpose of it was to refute or explain some of the 'gripes' or misconceptions GI's might have had about the French.

Maybe it would help if a copy of this was delivered door-to-door in the States today. Or failing that, maybe we could just kiss, on both cheeks, and make up...


Isabelle said...

Very nice post!
I started reading the 112 gripes too, but it will take some time to read them all.
I've always wondered why there is this love/hate relation between France and the U.S. After all, at the start of the war in Irak, we weren't the only ones to be against it (Germany and Russia among other countries were against this war too).

I always read about cultural shocks that Americans experience when coming to France, did you (or your husband, as an Englishman) have any?

The Duchess said...

Hi Isabelle,
The gripes are pretty funny, but some of them I suppose could still be relevant today, because there are still so many stereotypes that exist about France for Americans!

I first came to France 15 years ago, and there were so many little, day-to-day culture shocks. They all seem a bit silly now when I look back. Things like personal space, long-life milk, waiting in line so long, presentation of the meat in the markets, saying hello to everyone, only buying cigarettes at a Tabac, dealing with administration, and name a few.

It's the subtle little cultural differences that I'm still dealing with now, like French dinner parties, the school politics, the holidays, making friends, things like that. Not sure if I'll ever run out of things to get used to! But I wouldn't want it any other way. I guess I like to feel challenged!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the insight, I've often wondered about how our recent craziness is viewed by the rest of the world.

I found your blog through while looking for insight on moving to France-that's my dream. We vacationed in St. Thibery in 2005 and fell in love!

The Duchess said...

Hi Cheryl,
Thanks for stopping by and good luck with achieving your dream of moving to France!