CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

Are foreigners in or out of favour with the French?

PUBLISHED: 10:43 24 August 2016 | UPDATED: 15:42 24 August 2016

Stephen Clarke hopes the French will still favour their foreign friends post-Brexit © Tim Wesson

Stephen Clarke hopes the French will still favour their foreign friends post-Brexit © Tim Wesson

Archant

With hamburgers and cappuccinos appearing on menus, France was just about embracing global culture. But will Brexit change this? Paris-based writer Stephen Clarke hopes not

With all the recent talk about Britain and its links to the European Union, a lot of my fellow Parisians have been thinking aloud about how they view the Brits, and foreigners in general.

Of course, some of them cannot resist taking a purely historical line, explaining to me that Britain has never cared about the continent except as a convenient battlefield, and that no one in mainland Europe would worry if we retreated once and for all behind our defensive wall of seawater.

Most Parisians have been much kinder when discussing the prospect of losing me as a fellow member of the EU club, mainly because this talk of British isolationism has come at a time when France has been opening up more than ever to foreign influences.

The best example is the word ‘Brexit’ itself. As soon as the Brits started using it, the French media adopted it, and early in 2016 I did a French radio interview where it was being bandied about as freely as ‘baguette’ or ‘Camembert’.

Read more: What effect could Brexit have on British expats in France?

This has not been France’s only show of internationalism in recent months. One morning, in my corner café, I read a newspaper article announcing that the French now eat more burgers than baguette sandwiches. This is a cultural revolution on a parallel with Cuba inviting the Rolling Stones to play in Havana. Since time immemorial, the French national bread-and-meat combination has been the ‘jambon-beurre’, a ham baguette, while ‘les burgers’ were officially frowned upon as a nasty American habit.

It is the same with cappuccinos. Time was, if you tried to order one, French cafés would tell you to go to Italy (or something similar). Now, most of them are happy to sprinkle a cent’s worth of chocolate powder on an old-fashioned café crème, and charge double.

Even beer has recently undergone a revolution, with almost every region of France now making tasty versions of Anglo-American pale ale. The stranglehold of the industrialised lager has been broken, and a whole new world of French culinary experiences has opened up, thanks to international influences.

So all this talk of potential Brexiting came at a strange time for the French. They were just getting comfortable with the idea of embracing global culture (or elements of it, anyway), when the Brits turned round and slapped them in the face.

This is why I make a point of telling everyone in Paris that whatever happens in our uncertain political future, we French- and English-speakers will always be friends. Especially now that France has started making decent beer…

Stephen Clarke’s new novel is Merde in Europe.

Read more columns about French life:

Why I love France even more than the summer

The highs and lows of raising British children in France

Why do shops in France shut on a Sunday?

How many times shoudl you kiss in France

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Living in France

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The quality of family life in France is one of the reasons why expats rate the country so highly when asked how they feel about their lives overseas, according to a new study

Read more
Expats in France
Monday, October 8, 2018

When Jacalyn Burke left the UK for New York, little did she know that she would meet her long-term partner Kate Fitzgerald and that they would buy their first home together in France. Jacalyn tells us how they made it happen and why they love life in Charente-Maritime

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

With a little thought and some careful planning, you can stretch your budget and make sure you don’t waste a single penny. Here are 9 ways to save money in your French home and have more to spend on enjoying life in France

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Relocating to France? Make sure you prepare these 6 things before the big move to your French property

Read more
Expats in France
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thinking of setting up a campsite in France? Here’s what you’ll need to consider when it comes to planning permission.

Read more
Friday, April 6, 2018

Understand the home-sharing website Airbnb, including the latest French rules, and follow our top tips for using it to rent out your property in France

Read more
Running a business
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

With its unbeatable wine and cheese and laissez-faire attitude, there’s nowhere better to retire than France. But which cities are best for growing old in? Here’s the top 10

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Thursday, January 25, 2018

If you are buying in or moving to France you will need a French bank account but before you open one make sure you read these 11 things you need to know to avoid making a costly mistake

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

France might be experiencing a shortage of general practitioners but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a GP willing to take on new patients. Here’s what you need to know about finding and registering with a doctor when you move to France

Read more
Expats in France
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The French pharmacy is so much more tham a place to pick up your prescriptions. Here are 11 things you might not know about pharmacies in France.

Read more
Healthcare in France
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now