Henry Samuel comes to the conclusion in the Telegraph today that the binding ingredient in Europe is the universal hatred of the French. Look at this survey data:
Why the French are the worst company on the planet, a wry take on France by two of its citizens, dredges up all the usual evidence against them. They are crazy drivers, strangers to customer service, obsessed by sex and food and devoid of a sense of humour.
But it doesn’t stop there, boasting a breakdown, nation by nation, of what in the French irritates them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britons described them as “chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless”. However, the French may be more shocked by the views of other nations.
For the Germans, the French are “pretentious, offhand and frivolous”. The Dutch describe them as “agitated, talkative and shallow.” The Spanish see them as “cold, distant, vain and impolite” and the Portuguese as “preaching”. In Italy they comes across as “snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed” and the Greeks find them “not very with it, egocentric bons vivants”.
Interestingly, the Swedes consider them “disobedient, immoral, disorganised, neo-colonialist and dirty”.
But the knockout punch to French pride came in the way the poll was conducted. People were not asked what they hated in the French, just what they thought of them.
“Interviewees were simply asked an open question – what five adjectives sum up the French,” said Olivier Clodong, one of the study’s two authors and a professor of social and political communication at the Ecole Superieur de Commerce, in Paris. “The answers were overwhelmingly negative.”
And who was surprised. Look at their President:
Update: The Anchoress has some biting commentary on the French.