I believe it was Napoleon who introduced the phrase "la perfide Albion" or "perfidious Albion" to the world, which is rather ironic given that most of the time it seems like it is the French who are perfidious. A month or two ago TimW had a "two things" contest where we were invited to suggest two sentences that perfectly summed up something. I submitted an entry on the French:
Laws, especially EU and traffic related ones, are for other people
It is impossible to eat lunch in less than an hour
I believe this to hold true, however I should also note that someone else added this one on Francophobia which also rings true:
It's a crying shame how much of the CAP/how long a lunch hour/how much sex with beautiful women in kinky underwear those smelly wankers get.
I wish I were living in France.
Since I do in fact live in France I'm not exactly a Francophobe, however, just as with all those islamofascist appeasers in the Grauniad, I'm going to put a big "BUT" after sentences like "Lots of my friends are French". The reason why I put that BUT there is because of rule 1 that laws are for other people. There are times when I appreciate this habit - such as looking for a parking space in Cannes last Saturday - but many more times when it annoys me. From personal experience I have seen French companies attempt to weasel their way out of contract terms when it is in their interest to do so yet, at the same time, do their level best to get other contract terms strictly adhered to. I wish I could say this was a one off but it isn't and I wish I could say that it was just due to my poor negotiation technique but since it happens to others I can't blame it on that either.
In addition to the recent cross borderacquisition hypocrisy, the EU Referendum blog has an example of a French company brazenly ignoring the EU single market rules and expecting to get away with just a small slap on the wrist. Of course there is a good case to be made that this is just standard business practise, or even that the French are just copying the ruthless ways of "les Anglo-saxons", but I think that if this is the case then the French have misunderstood something that most Anglo-saxon business managers undersand only too well that "what goes around comes around". Or in other words you tend to get better deals when you have a reputation for being fair and worse deals if you have a poorer reputation.
To go back to the personal level, I know a lot of fellow epxats, and even some French people, down here on the Riviera who refuse to contract with French builders because they have been ripped off time and again with shoddy workmanship. Indeed one of the more common topics at parties and dinners around here is what builder/plumber/electrician/... can be trusted or recommended. The French may fear the "polish plumber" but down here we like him because he does what he says he will do when he says he will do it.