Feeling discriminated against!

Hi, just wondered if any readers have ever felt dicriminated against because they are English?? I felt awful today whilst at the hairdressers having some highlights done...I was left sitting in the chair for 40 minutes whilst the hairdresser started highlights on her assistant, I was getting very worried about my hair as I know the bleach is not left on that long but thought it best not to say anything until i had seen the finished product...At last she came over to me and started to finish my hair, then again I was left sitting there for another 20 minutes while she finished the assistants...Needless to say it came out (not literally!!) nearly white, which I was not pleased with and told her, she babbled away very quickly saying it might have been a different bleach and it wasn't much different to how I usually had it !!! She only charged me half price but I still wasn't happy. I feel sure if I had been French this would not have happened. A friend of mine went to a lotto evening and bought raffle tickets, hers was pulled out first and she was really happy as the 1st prize was a Senseo Coffe Machine but when she went up with the ticket the guy doing the raffle stated that "For a change they will start the raffle prizes with the booby prize first!!" Am I being over sensitive???

Thought I would update anybody interested in my hair debacle....had to have it all chopped off!!!! It was breaking off at the ends and gradually working upwards towards my scalp!!!!1 Went back to the original hairdresser and complained, she cut some off, charged me and murmured something in french under her breath....but it just got worse so tried a different hairdresser who was shocked at the condition and said the only way was to cut it as short as possible..Came out looking like an elderly pixie!!!! Have got used to how short it is but dont like the mousey colour but cant have any highlights for a while yet. Want to go back and at least demand all my money back but dont know if this is the done thing here in France??? Any ideas anyone or should I just put it down to experience !!

I've got the whole "in-law" thing going on, because other half is from Paris> The family are just the oddest people ever, too "familial" if that's possible. Maman, Papa, and their 30 year old kids all have to go out shopping when it's time for Papa to buy new trousers. I can't deal with the way they all seem to live in each others' pockets. I think it has to do with everyone growing up in a 40 metres squared apartment.

I thought it was just the in-laws, but it turns out the majority of parisians are like that.

I just found the constant being told to go home grated on me, and the crap when I answered a phone call, in public, and EVERYONE would drop everything, including their jaws, and stare at me,unabashedly, for the entire duration of the phone call.

None of that where I live now, there seems to be a tolerance of anglophones. I will be honest,though, I had a mate visit from Belgium last year, and, being Black, he did get gawked a a lot, but, on the upside, all other black people said hello to him on the street!

lol! Well, I realise it would be a gross mistruth on my part to say Paris is perfect! But it is nice not to be stared at or treated differently because I'm the only person there with a different accent!

I find you meet people who have moved around and they are far more "open". My social circle in Paris is mostly people from elsewhere in France and I think that is the difference.

Cheers Neil, I'll happily fit in with the pequenots, being honest, my memories of Paris are different to yours, but I can assure you, where I live now, in the "countryside" as you put it, people have welcomed me with open arms (as soon as they've learned I'm actually not English,but I think that's going to happen to any non English anglophone in France.


Maybe you should have refused outright to pay!!

I have seen this from a different standpoint. We are an Australian family, and we always tell people that we aren't English. It's a bit of a novelty, and we notice a change in attitude. Sometimes we get asked what our "first" language is and we say "Australian", so they try talking English! Sometimes we get asked if it's similar to English and we say it's almost the same!

Most of my work is in Paris where contrary to opinion, I find people more "normal" and speaking with an accent isn't different. It's more normal!

But I did a 6 month freelance in the countryside, and I got treated like the outcast with 2 heads or 11 fingers. Apart from their heads leaning to one side when I spoke, I was teased by my manager for being Anglo-saxon. The reason was that his uncle worked at Airbus and the A380 development was late because of the wiring. It was the Germans doing the wiring. I work in IT and don't do wiring! So why was I being teased? Well, Germany, there's a state called Saxony, and that gives its name to the saxons, Anglo-saxons, geddit?

When I left, he did apologise and said it was a "joke"!!

But I'll throw my lot in with the Parisiens anyday, and look down on the country folk as "les péquenots" !!!

And there we have it! I cant work out from your reply Emily if youre directing your comments at me or just in general. Just because someone puts a positive spin on a negative situation does not mean they are burying their head in the sand, walking around in blissful silly isolation and just managing to exist. I am new to this site NOT to France and have read and learnt an awful lot from many of the debateshere but do not believe everything I read as gospel. I have found that the best way to lead ANY life and learn how to get on in it, is to integrate with people around you, try to be pleasant, helpful and NEVER make swift judgements of someone or a situation you may find yourself in. Were debating discrimination against Brits by the French here. Would we treat a Frenchman/woman in the UK whose manner appears rude or distainful the same as a pleasant and polite French national?- I dont think so! Im not saying there isnt rascism here in France, that would be a ludricous statement but I am saying a smile and politeness even when youre really peed off gets you better results - its human nature and some people based on their whole mannerisms whether they are British French or any other nationality will be treated worse than others. And yes Ive heard the "be rude and agressive back, its what they expect!" comments - just dont agree with it - I wasnt brought up to be like that and would only behave like that if I was defending my family in some kind of serious situation - Mamma Bear and all that! I think in the general scheme of things it comes down to the fact that our two nations have completely different mentalities and if you dont acknowledge that -that is where Problems arise!

I'll give you this much,many expats moan constantly, and some even go out to find a chance to make themselves discriminated against, just like some people play the race, or gay card constantly in their lives, but I will say this.... there ARE french people who will continue to dislike people based on their origin, and, you know what, I find, where I work, Germans, russians, sweedish, all getting lesser treatment, because they speak english as a common language, and so get taken for "rosbifs" by the staff.

Also, there are French people too who cannot go away for a few days, or enjoy a meal out without finding something to gripe about, but you know what, we're all the same in that sense.

Sorry Beverly, but I really don't agree with your comments, I have lived in France for ten years, and I've found that most people working in the service industries in france to be unhelpful and rude - many of our visitors who come from all over the world also find it a shocking experience! There are exceptions of course, and yes for many years I used the smiley faced approach and 'sorry for my poor french' but it just doesn't wash where I live! It doesn't put me of living here, but my children, who are more attune to this culture, tell me I should be as equally rude - not something I would advocate or be comfortable with. Anyone that has been here long enough and doesn't live in a bubble will at some point be exposed to some form of discrimination (don't get my husband started on what's happened to him) but an acceptance of the cultural differences helps me to keep it in perspective - and the odd smile doesn't do any harm either!

See its working already!

Me too.

Turn this thread back on itself - has anyone ever considered that it is our attitude/s that causes some of these problems? I read some comments on here and many people are just so affronted and angry or deadpan in the way they express themselves. I see and hear many British in action be they immigrants/ex-pats/second home moaners or holidaymakers, and many of them, whether they speak fluent, mediocre or poor french are just as miserable, rude and arrogant as we like to paint the French when were having a rant! I'm not saying were all like that but some Brits do come across as cold and superior even to other Brits. I dont have many problems in my day to day life in fact if anything I find people go the extra mile to be helpful and friendly to me. The one thing I always have is a smile on my face and generally an apology for my poor French and it generally brings out the best in people or positive discrimination, however you want to describe it - whatever- it is a known fact that, even if you are "complaining", if you have a smile on your face people find it very hard not to smile back - give it a try and see how people change!

I have been kept waiting at hairdressers like this (though fortunately before any work had been started!) and watched other people coming in after me and getting served straight away whilst I sat there in an invisible coat (I had actually informed the lady that I had previously made an appointment). In the end I had to ask the woman when she was going to start on my hair, only to be told that she was busy and she would see to me as soon as she could. Twenty minutes later, after two other people had walked in and got served straight away, I announced that I couldn't wait any longer as I had to collect my daughter from school, I was met with shocked expressions, but sometimes I do think that certain French people like to have a laugh at us English! I must admit, if I had 'won' the 1st prize, I would have insisted on having the 1st prize - the French simply wouldn't accept anything less!!


You know what I most miss since coming to France, is the easy, uncomplicated way of having even just friendly superficial relationships; easy conversations with people without having to "weight every" single word, and fun and laughter or deep, interesting conversations and discussion with friends.

Trying so hard to fit in is starting to make me feel like a hypocrite. I feel like I am betraying myself, charging myself short by pretending not to care about the things I have learned during my former life: tolerance, a hatred for any kind of racism, superficialness and most of all hypocrisy.

I have tried, but people here are either not interested in friendships (maybe its just my kind of friendship they are not interested in), or, a lot of times I get the feeling that they are intimidated by "their" own, self created perception of us of being just "too different" from them. It seems that they don't just see us as another ordinary person, they always put a name on us i.e. la Canadienne, l'Americaine, etc., sometimes worse. And since they can't fit us into any of their molds, it seems we are not worth the bother.

There is however a light at the end of the tunnel for me. The house that we have been trying to build for the last 5+ years is going to be finally finished at the end of the summer! I will be able to have people around me of my own choosing and in my own space and will be able to entertain again. I am so very much looking forward to family and friends visiting from Canada and some other countries that I have lived in, and with any luck I'll be able to make, if not friendships, but at least some friendly acquaintances here in France.

Since I came to France my partner and I have been living in a bachelor apartment (belonging to his family) the size of a matchbox which put a damper on entertaining or having people visit.

My « positive future » here in France will start when I will be living in my own space, with my own things (in Storage for the last 7 years), choosing the people I want in my life and being able to have my two girls coming to visit whenever possible.

Emily, to conclude this conversation I will say that I still love this country. That I enjoy the sense of history one gets when driving or walking through it, the beauty of the country side, the things that surprise and delight me everytime I visit a new part of it. That I take immense pleasure in being able to see things growing almost year around and am looking forward to do some of that once the house is ready (gardening). The rest will only have a secondary place in my life.

I should probably not say this, but since I thought that I was the only one feeling somewhat "off" living here, I am glad that I am not alone, (misery likes company, sort of thing, I really am sorry ). It has helped me a lot being able to talk (write) to someone else that understands. I admire you for not giving up and for trying to turn the tables and make this work for you ! I guess in our own ways that is what all of us are trying to do, just that I need a little push and to remind myself once in a while …. how lucky I am !

Thank you again, Emily!

Emily, I like the way you express yourself about this kind of behaviour, even in light of what you went through with your husband (from an earlier post of yours). I too had similar experiences with my French partner, not quite as bad, but also quite upsetting to me. I expect nothing more and nothing less than to be treated with Respect and in a Dignified manner, and to be Defended during adversity, just like I do in return.

My partner grew up with parents that treated even their own children with disdain (nothing he did was ever good enough) and distance (they don't touch each other and no one ever talks about their feelings, dreams or goals),but all of a sudden expect to be taken care of with dignity in their old age! Did I miss something there??

Fortunately for me, he had travelled a bit outside France and leaned that in other countries it does not matter so much what the neighbours, other family members or the butcher next door think about anyone else before meeting me. Once in a while he resorts back to his upbringing, but I usually can stem that right in the butt by asking him to repeat the reasons why he chose me and not one of his own. But I am deviating from the subject, sorry.

I have tried, as you have, to surprise French family and friends with different things I cook, different things I create ... only to get THAT look, I am sure most of you know it! Even though they "vous" me, which should denote a certain respect, most of the time they don't even give me the time to finish a sentence while I am struggling for the right words.

I have given up, they just don't seem to be able, or most likely don't want to, jump over their own shadow. When together, we smile politely at each other but never turns the conversation to something that even comes close to anything personal. The Italians have the perfect word for this behaviour: Menefreghisti! It denotes "indifference", and anything not French is treated like that!

I am using my partners "average French family" (their words) as an example, but it seems to me that many, (but thankfully not all) people in this country are just like them. And I seem to meet them wherever I go, even at the grocery store ;)

Thanks again for this talk .... this is the first time I talk (write) about this since I came here. Its difficult to talk about this to friends from another life (before France), friends that envy you for living here, and to admit that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

I notice that I'm discriminated against until it comes up that I'm Irish, and then it's elbow nudging and hearty laughs all round as they tell me it's "better". I got a lot of that in Paris. Down here, in Haute Savoie, people are more welcoming, except at holiday season, where they're so sick of English-speaking tourists.

Even in the hotel, there's the attitude that we can go the extra mile for French guests, but, anyone speaking English (even if they're russian, or mexican, and use English as a common language), they're given the basics, and nothing more.

Attitudes are very different in different parts of France too, from the Aveyron Bordeaux is lumped in with paris and other area as having some of the snobbiest most arrogant people going...! And as Emily knows, I came across quite a bit of that in Britany too but very rarely come across it here. But even in the aveyron there are differences; the ruthèmois are notoriously cold and snobby as they live in the capital, yes that's what we joke about here, the capital of the aveyron with the same snobby ideas as in paris!!!

Emily, you said:

"Too bad that they don't understand that to a Brit they just look pompous, disrespectful and unkind (instead of strong, capable and trustworthy."

Emily, not only to Brits do they look that way. I worked for some time in an international environment and can say that almost everyone had the same impression of the French. Its really too sad, and so unnecessary.

Having grown up and lived for a very long time in multicultural Canada, this kind of "having to act superior" behaviour I encounter here in France surprises me every time I have to deal with it. I doubt that I will ever be fully able to let it be just "the normal" accepted way of dealing with the rest of the world. One can show authority and grandeur with kindness, without giving the feeling of abasement. Acting superior and using hierarchy in dealing with others are in my opinion just a sign of inferiority complexes and are perceived in most of the modern world as archaic.

Your sentence " The French like authority, grandeur, superiority, hierarchy, and to feel safe" scares me somewhat because that is exactly the way I too perceive my environment here. Back in history there was another European country that started with the same "likes" ...... and we know how that ended up.

Emily, I will not ever run back to get another item, in any store if one does not scan right! If they don't hire enough staff to go and check "their" wrong pricing, I will leave this item or just walk out of the store with nothing. In the future I will insist on seeing the price on the cash register of every one of my items they scan, or if it can't be seen from where I stand, I will ask the cashier to say the price out loud while they are scanning it! You'd all be wise to check your receipts as I find wrong prices almost all the time on mine.

Last week, for the very last time, they asked me to go back for an item which did not scan. I went, and the price that scanned on the item was not the one on the price ticket on the aisle. I only found that out after checking my receipt, then proceeding to line up at customer service (LOL, that expression is the biggest joke ever here) where after a 10 minute wait I was received without a smile, or an expression of being sorry about the mistake, and send to line up at the main cash office at the very other end of the long line of cashiers. To make a long story short, same behavior at the main cash office than at the « customer service ». It took 30 minutes to get reimbursed for an item that « they » could not get scanned and would/could not go and check at the aisle (lunch time, no one here to go check, bla, bla, bla). I am a reasonably calm person, I know that anyone can have a bad day, but being treated with disdain and disrespect and like « I » wanted to rip them off, I felt like my top was going to blow.

Returning once again to "customer service" (what was another 10 minutes of my time, anyways!) I asked to see a manager! An almost always impossible request in any store, because everyone you ask automatically elects themselves to be "the one". This time however, it was the guy I saw earlier stocking the aisles that came pretending to be him. He told me that he could not understand why I made such an issue about something (the inability of the store to get their prices right) so banal as a wrong price. When I said that this happens to me at this store almost 2 out of 3 times that I shop here (I am not exaggerating) and that I almost spend more time getting prices sorted out or getting reimbursed than the time I use to shop, he used the "n'importe qua" expression on me and that is when the top blew. I told to him to take this message to the « real » store manager:

« I used shop here ; I used to leave my money that pays your salary here ; I DO NOT work as a price checker at C...f...! And since the top was off, I added : Vous avez essayé de m’arnaquer pour la dernière fois! Then I broke the customer card and handed it to him.

I know that no one at this store will care about me shopping there or not, that is just not part of the French « business sense ». However, there were a fair amount of people witness to this disrespectful conversation and it surprised me to see that they obviously thought too that I was in the wrong !

« Se plaindre! »

Nous ne faisons pas ça ici! » This is one of the sentences that I hear more than any other since my arrival in France almost 7 years ago. Could give you a minority complex if one would not know that fortunately there is a whole other world out there.

Moral of the story : Maria, don’t let them get away with this disrespectful behavior ! You would not do that in any other country, and just because we do not perfectly master their language, it does not mean they can be rude to us.

Thanks for letting me get that of my chest …. and sorry for any bad French gramar or spelling :)

Have a great day :)

I agree with you Emily, especially about the part of "inability to admit fault"! And, it seems, saying that one is sorry is just not something that's done here either.