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I was Michele la grande during my stay in Bretagne, as I towered a good ten inches over my host mother. She was fabulous. My first purchase when I got to Rennes was a pair of black boots so I could "faire comme tout le monde" -- but the practical purse always gives me away. I could give you a scarf lesson, if you'd like -- I actually got that one down! The trick is to toss it on quickly and not think too much about it except for tucking in the loose ends. It's all about the panache, baby! Great post!


i love your list. i guess i have my own different list but usually people just think i'm a chinese girl that dresses sort of raggety. anyway! i'm thinking about getting a t-shirt made that says, 'je ne suis pas chinoise!!!' :D


I'm tall too: 5'11, and the French often mistake me for a Dutch person. As for the conversation, I think it is a general American thing that we don't have the 'analytical to the last dying breath' gene.

But I am what I am. And I can drape a mean scarf. Which helps me pass for a French woman, that is, until I open my mouth to speak. (Oh, the accent. That one is a dead giveaway.)


Being in France already, I have to say that it is number four that is letting me down. We went to a very chic restaurent today with new colleagues and I had no idea if I was in fact behaving in an appaling manner...oh well, the food was great.
I can take you shopping for accesories next time you are in Paris....


Thanks for that great list, Jean. I should really try to write my own, although I think that I act totally different in France and in the U.S., and I have written about this weird phenomenon several times in my blog.

I cannot wrap a scarf either, and might want to learn how to do it. Overall, I think that I look much more American than French because of the way I dress.


Hi Jean,
A very smart and funny list indeed. N°2 made me laugh... You're right about our poker face! And I really like the so animated face of american girls (isn't it mainly a girls thing?), with this kind of little head movments as to say "yes" while they are speaking to you...


OMG - LOL!!! This post cracked me uuuup! Esp. the "poker face"! SI DROLE!!!


I think it is genetic about the ability to drap a scarf but fortunately I am 1/8th French and I can sort of do it and with the help of a good girlfriend who happens to be French, I think I have it down. :) My problem was I wasn't using the right kinds of scarves. ;)

Ah, the intonation, me too! I love trouncing Frenchies when we play French scrabble. So fun!


Jean, have you read David Sedaris' short stories in "Me Talk Pretty One Day"? Esp. the bit on living in France? I think you would enjoy them very much.


Michele, Sammy, Anne, and Flare,
I will investigate whether it's the scarves themselves that are tripping me up. I don't have a drop of French blood in my veins, but I am determined to prevail!

PT and Elisabeth,
I would like to see your lists. Elisabeth may have to make two :-)

Pierre and Dauphine,
I was shaking my head "yes" while reading your posts. (Just can't help it) I think it is a girl thing.

You are freaking me out! At the very moment I was reading your post, my spouse was reading aloud out of that same book--but he hasn't gotten to the France part yet, so I may have to steal it from him. The man is hilarious.


I am French and I am tall. Too tall for a girl as a lot of people say. but I don't care about what they think. I never wear any uggly scarf or other clothe and...I love the accent american people have when they speak French. It's just so lovely!!! Don't lose it and don't forget your roots just to "be like French people". All French people are not the same, and all French people are not "pure French"...My grand-parents are from Spain, people can see it from my hair and skin, but can't believe it when I stand up!!




Learning the land where high fashion was invented,is a good thing and really usfeul to do,and the thing you tell about the stereotypical American in France,is really good to see,and also the thing about the French perspective,is superb to see and this is good if you are thinking about this topic and working on this.

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