There are few countries that have the ability to inspire opinions in people the way France does. Certainly there are some who have a pretty negative attitude towards it, but there are more who have the opposite opinion. For everyone who complains about the food and the people, there are more who find it all captivating.
It is true that you are unlikely to be ambivalent about France. There are various reasons why it provokes strong opinions. These opinions are particularly widely felt in English-speaking countries. Part of the reason for this is that maybe more than any country, the French have largely resisted appropriating UK and US culture. There is a reputation the French have for having a superiority complex, and they do say we hate in others that which we most fear about ourselves.
Part of people’s antipathy towards France also comes from a buried anti-intellectual sentiment. In France, culture and art are hugely relevant and a major selling point for the country. This divides opinion among Anglophones, some of whom admire it and aspire towards it. Others view it as supercilious and pretentious. But the interesting thing is that much of this distaste for France is held by people who have never been there.
If You Don’t Like France … Try The Food
If you’re someone who loves France, you may be disconcerted by the reasons people give for not being keen. Very early in the conversation, people will mention frogs’ legs and snails, and everything being drenched in garlic.
What this reveals, more than anything, is a vision of France that has been learned from joke books. Real French cuisine is better exemplified by meals like tartiflette, cassoulet or poulet basquaise. All are delicious, hearty meals that go down equally well with wine or beer.
If You Don’t Like France … Check Out The Scenery
Whatever you feel at home in, in terms of scenery, France has something for you. From the classic beach resorts such as Nice and St. Tropez to the forests of Brittany, there are few countries that are prettier. But if you want to gaze in real awe at nature’s creations, there are great skiing holidays that really showcase France properly.
The Three Valleys region in the East of France, not far from the Swiss border, is home to some beautiful scenery. Even if you’re not much of a skier yourself, the tourist industry in the region means there is plenty to do. Just remember to take a spare memory card for the camera.
If You Don’t Like France … Hop The Border
If you really don’t like France, then maybe there is no helping you. However, bear in mind that the size of the country means it has a lot of borders. You may not hit it off with la vie Francaise, but if you’re in a hire car there are other countries close by.
Drive south and check out Spain, or to the east to any one of a number of places. Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy are all close by. In all, there are seven European countries that border France. At all of these borders are French towns with a taste of the other country. So even if you’re not enamoured with the first place you go, it’s a launchpad for others.