French or Foe

Old Feb 23rd, 2007, 12:36 PM
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French or Foe

A friend who lived and worked in Paris in the 90's gave me FRENCH OR FOE by Polly Platt and CULTURE SHOCK FRANCE by Sally Adamson Taylor to read before my first trip to Paris. I just finished reading both of them. They were both published in 1998. I found them interesting, but I didn't take either of them to be the final word on French people or culture. Any comments on these two books??
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Old Feb 23rd, 2007, 12:48 PM
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I don't know the second book but I absolutely cannot stand Polly Platt and her take on French-American relations. As someone who lives in Swiss Romande and who has a close childhood friend who has lived in Paris for the past 24 years I can't agree with much of anything she says.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 03:02 AM
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Ther's a slightly more recent book called "Sixty Million Frenchmen can't be Wrong", which I bought assuming it would be humourous. It's not, particularly; but as someone who thought she knew about France, I found it really insightful
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 03:20 AM
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The best disection of the French is "The French: Portrait of a People" by Sanche de Gramont, 1969.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 07:04 AM
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But France has changed enormously since 1969.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 09:09 AM
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I'll put in another recommedation for 60 Million Frenchmen can't be wrong!

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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 09:58 AM
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I'll put in another recommedation for 60 Million Frenchmen Can't Defend Themselves!
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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And I thought "60 Million Frenchman Can't Be Wrong" was atrocious. The author didn't understand much about anything but certainly repeated quite a few prevalent misconceptions.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 10:21 AM
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I have absolutely no idea how "accurate" they are, if such a concept exists, but I really enjoyed Tim Moore's "French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France" (he cycled the route, not in the actual race), and the hilarious "A Year in the Merde" by Stephen Clarke, who says "there are lots of French people who are not at all hypocritical, inefficient, treacherous, intolerant, adulterous, or incredibly sexy; they just didn't make it into my book". A bestseller in Paris, btw.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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I didn't find 'A year in the merde" very funny. Nor do I find Mayle's books hilarious either. That guy did a lot of harm to the Provence area he was living in.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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How do you mean, he did a lot of harm in the Provence area he lived in?
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 10:53 AM
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Was Mayles supposed to be funny? I couldn't ever get far enough into one to tell. I thought he was supposed to be more ecstatic and spiritual or something.

"A Year in the Merde" was (in part) a bitter and mean-spirited send-up of Mayles, which is why I liked it so much.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 11:43 AM
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lmlweb
Yes he did, there are bus tours taking people to what used to be his place.


Just imagine how YOU would feel if you lived in the neighborhood. ;-))
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 12:03 PM
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If I were the neighbours, I'd get some cheap dishes, and the sell them as Peter Mayle dishes - he ate off them. They'd probably sell for a bit.

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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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I agree with fnarl99 about Mayle. I'm going to look for "A Year in the Merde." A bitter and mean-spirited send-up of Mayles -- now that's a review I find irresistible.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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Polly Platt has managed to turn outdated stereotypes into a viable consulting business. While sometimes amusing, I doubt that most of her observations will be of much use to a visitor. She seems to live in a rarefied atmosphere, peopled by those who have a particule in their name.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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I agree with you toupary. For example she says never bring wine to dinner.
My French Friends are not rich and are grateful for what we bring. She also says don't ask to use the toilet.
Her advice is not for the general population. Excuse m while I use your sandbox
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 01:58 PM
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LOL, CigaleChanta. I needed that. It's my birthday, and I'm feeling OLD. Even in Paris.
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 01:59 PM
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>>>>>>
"When normal American people say bad things about the French, it is always because they haven't been there," she says. "So whenever I hear of friends planning a trip, I organize tea or lunches with my French friends in Paris. The Americans always came back transformed."
>>>>>>

teaching people that the french are actually 'nice'??? this drivel must be aimed at the lowest common denominator. how worthless, uninteresting and condescending is this rubbish? do american companies actually hire this person to consult on this rubbish?
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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 02:11 PM
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Walkingaround, it's all about self-promotion. What a humanitarian. Maybe we should nominate her for the Légion d'honneur.

By the way, I've been living here for a year and a half, and I still haven't been invited to tea.

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