France is a country beloved by millions, but its people have a reputation for perhaps not being the most friendly bunch. A new survey has asked the French what they think of this stereotype and where they think you should visit (and avoid) if you want a warm welcome.
France is one of the most visited countries in the world. Its gorgeous mountains, top-class cuisine and sunny coastlines attracted 66.6 million tourists last year.
But despite this massive popularity, the country may have a slight image problem when it comes to the friendliness of its inhabitants.
The stereotype of French rudeness rightly or wrongly endures.
But what do French people themselves think about it?
To find out, 1500 French residents from 15 cities were asked how welcoming they thought their country was in a survey by the language learning platform Preply.
In a very candid response, more than two-thirds said they agreed with the stereotype that French people are unfriendly.
When asked why there is an international stereotype of French people being rude, respondents said frequent swearing and cultural differences leading to misunderstandings were the main causes. And one fifth accused media portrayals of French people in TV and film of perpetuating an inaccurate stereotype.
Where in France should I visit for a warm welcome?
If you’re thinking of going on holiday to France anytime soon and want the warmest welcome possible, respondents were also asked to rank the most and least friendly French cities.
Based on their recommendations you should be packing your bags for a trip to Toulouse. If the southern city doesn’t take your fancy, why not a winter trip to the Christmas markets in Strasbourg which came in second place.
Rennes, the capital of Brittany, ranked third and Bordeaux in the west rounds off the top four.
How friendly is Paris?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Paris features in the top five least friendly cities, but it doesn’t take the unenviable dishonour of being the worst. The French capital placed a respectable fourth.
Next in line, and possibly showing that its inhabitants are not as nice as the name suggests, is Nice. Marseille slots in at second and the southeastern city of Lyon takes the unwanted crown of the least friendly city in France.
Why you should visit Lyon anyway
As an adopted Lyonnais for the last two and half years, I feel it is my duty to defend my city. Sure I’ve had some awkward moments with French people on public transport or when dealing with bureaucracy (which you can read more about here), but you can have these things in every city.
What you won't find everywhere is the beauty that there is in Lyon. From its two handsome rivers to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière that keeps watch above the city, Lyon is really worth a visit. And with so many tourists preoccupied with Paris, you get a more laid-back (and apparently rude) vibe than in the capital.