​No matter where you are from, odds are you have read books, seen movies and heard stories about both French and Spanish cultures. These experiences generally create ideas, musings if you will, about what the people or culture of a certain country is like. These stereotypes are, for some reason, more often than not false - and at times even quite offensive to the respective country’s population. So what better way to disprove (or confirm!) these stereotypes than to see them for yourself, on a wonderful tour through the fantastic France and Stunning Spain? Get aboard a Renfe-SNCF en Cooperation train to travel between destinations, and prepare for the holiday of the year! 


The French are passionate and romantic 

Couple kissing in front of the Eiffel tower

Whether it’s because their capital city is commonly known as the City of Love, or because the world’s most passionate kiss has been called a French Kiss, a lot of foreigners will agree that the entire country has an aura of love and romance about it. A summer fling strolling through the streets of Paris is a bucket list item for many avid travellers. The question here is whether or not the French are truly more romantic and passionate, or could it be that they are just more open to showing it off?  Be it their warm, sunny weather, the openness to public displays of affection, or their casual and confident flirting, it does seem to be quite true that the French have a different, more casual approach to love - but does this make them more romantic?

French are rude

French are rude

The French do seem to tend to be strong and confident people, but in no way does this make rude. If you imagine yourself being chased down a Parisian alley by a man wearing a beret and waving a baguette at you, swearing in heavy French, you can put your worries to rest. 

What may happen is that you might find the French to be slightly more direct that what you are used to, and will give their honest opinion or situation when asked. 

Be nice and polite, however, and you will find that you will be treated in exactly the same way. 

No one speaks English

No one speaks English

Many foreigners travelling to France have an embedded fear that they will not be able to communicate with the locals. This is far from true. Although most French people will appreciate a tourist’s attempt to speak some French, most people do speak at least some basic English - especially in larger cities and tourist destinations. What they do not find particularly charming, however (and neither would any other nation) is when people expect them to speak English under any circumstance, without even asking. 

So once again, just be polite, maybe even learn some French basics to get your conversation started - check here for a 101 Guide to French and Spanish for your travels -  and you will see people answer in kind! In fact, a large majority of people will find it a great opportunity to put some of their English to practice. 

French food is just frogs, snails and brains

Snails dish

Many people, when thinking of French food, automatically think of Haute Cuisine, of impeccably prepared and decorated dishes of French delicacies such as frogs legs, cooked snails and cow tongues. 

And while these are a part of French cuisine, along with many other weird and wonderful dishes, they are delicacies - meaning you will not find them in any corner shop, passing restaurant or family fridge. So fear not if you do not find the ides of these dishes quite as appetizing as you may like - although they are a unique experience and cooked and seasoned to perfection by incredible French chefs, they are far from the only food you will find when eating out. Cheese, however, is another story… 


Spanish are always late

Spanish are always late​

It is quite common thought that Southern European countries, and Spain in particular, have a slightly more relaxed attitude towards timing and time in general. And although they do run on a somewhat different schedule from other countries, this does not mean they are late. 

The truth is, Spanish culture do things later than others, and due to different factors, namely weather and temperature related, this makes sense. Lunch tends to be around 2 or 3 pm, pushing dinner back comfortably until after 9 or even 10pm. The nightlife is late-lived also, beginning around 1 or 2 am (at the earliest) and keeping up until well after the sun rises. 

Again, this does not mean they are late - just later - perfectly on time for their own timing. 

Spanish always take siestas

Spanish always take siestas​

As for the oh-so-famous Spanish Siesta,no want to disappoint, but this is unfortunately not as popular a tradition as most Spanish would like. Similar to our previous example, the Siesta is very much weather-related - and dates back centuries. Back when farming and land-tending were prominent, popular professions in Spain, the sweltering heat of the young afternoon made it impossible to work, meaning farmers would get up early, and make the most of the hours between 2 pm until around 5 pm to have a long lunch and take a rest. Although the tradition of sleeping in the afternoon is no longer very practiced, the concept of a long afternoon lunch break is. Many shops and stores will close for around 3 hours in the afternoon, and instead stay open until later (generally around 8 or 9 pm), not only giving the employees of these shops the time to go home and have a relaxed lunch, but also 9 to 5 employees the chance to go to these shops after work. 

Bullfighting is the national hobby

This may well be the falsest of all stereotypes. Not only is this not true - it is a very controversial subject within Spain. Although Bullfighting may still play a part in some Spanish traditions and festivals it is no longer considered a sport and there is a very significant part of the Spanish population who are adamantly against this practice. In fact, two of Spain’s regions, Catalonia (of which Barcelona is the capital) and the Canary Islands, have banned this tradition, and several others are debating following in their footsteps. 

All Spanish dance the Flamenco

All Spanish dance the Flamenco​

Again, this is a very false stereotype. Flamenco is an art form, taking years and years of lessons and professional practice to perfect, and although it is originally from Spain, it is far from true that most people practice, or even watch it. Flamenco comes from the south of Spain, namely Andalucía, and must like Spanish gastronomy, there are very significant cultural differences between Spain’s different autonomous regions.  This mean that while most Spanish are appreciate and take some pride in the tradition, it has very little influence on the day to day lives of the majority of Spanish men and women. 

Join the conversation

  • Marta 28/09/2016 17:20:25
    Very funny!

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