(asked by Michel M. from the Netherlands)

I hope you can answer my question.
My question is: What do French people think, in general, about Northern-Europeans? By ”Northern-Europeans” I mean Dutchmen, Germans, and Swedes for example.
I’ve heard that French people think that Dutchmen and other Northern-Europeans have a ”cold personality”, that they are less ”chaleureux” than the French (Cause France, is the country of ”amour”). Is this true?

Yeah, I guess this is a general stereotype about Northern Europeans. But then, I don’t really know if all the French have the same preconceived (mis)conceptions about Northern Europeans as some of them live pretty near France.

I guess Southern French people will have the general feeling that Northern Europeans are colder, but they’ll have that feeling about Northern French people as well.
Whereas Northern French people may have a more detailed view of Northern Europeans, and think that Southern Europeans are more welcoming, but that their friendships are more shallow too and those kinds of things, of course, they’ll also think that of Southern French people.

I don’t think I can go into more details with just the label “Northern Europeans.”

If you go down to more details, let’s say, each nationality, preconceptions will be more precise.
I guess one can say that the French think that the German are colder, more logical, and more organized, the Swedes are tall, blonde, gorgeous women (there are no men in Sweden according to the French) and that the Dutch are the most liberal people on this planet and are much more relaxed and easy going than their neighbors (must be the pot).

I don’t think I can answer with more details without falling into the national caricatures or on the contrary without saying the usual: the more you know a nation, the more you realize what’s true and not true about preconceptions, and that they don’t apply to all people, but I think that’s stating the obvious -even though I’m not sure it’s always that obvious for everybody if I trust some comments I get sometimes (see yesterday in previous post for example)

pixel What do French people think about Dutchmen and other Northern Europeans?

9 Responses to “What do French people think about Dutchmen and other Northern-Europeans?”

  1. The stereotypes about the Dutch are also the following:

    * They often go to France for holiday
    * They are scrooges, don’t want to spend anything and don’t enjoy life
    * They accept weird ideas such as a “pedophile party” which is not understood elsewhere.

  2. The Dutch is( are ?) a wonderfull people. The best people one can meet in Europe including UK. I give them the gold medal. (I’m french). The first words I learnt in Dutch was : ” ik ben blij”. ( “I’m happy”, something like that). Dank u.

  3. Here in the Touraine, I would say that Ben’s summary of the stereotyping of Dutch people is close for the first two. I have never heard anyone suggest the third one.

    The main comment one hears is that the Dutch come on holiday, but don’t spend any money locally. They bring all their own food. No one can understand why you would visit France and not eat the local food! If they have a maison secondaire here, they furnish it with items they brought with them from Holland.

    These are the stereotypes of course, and I am not French, so I am just reporting what I hear around me in France.

  4. About the “pedophile party”: just look at the results of a Google search:


    [But in America too there are parties that would better not exist, such as the “American Nazi Party” (yes it unfortunately exists)]

    This party is referred to as “pedophile” by some of the most serious newspapers, and it is not a joke at all.

    My “not enjoying life” is related to saving their money too much and not spending anything in France. For example, while in France, they won't go to bars/cafés.

    But of course those are stereotypes and all the Dutch people I know are extremely enjoyable :)

    Ah, I add another stereotype: they are fond of biking.

  5. Hello “AskAFrenchman”

    What a strange nickname. I use my first name, but maybe I should have made a nickname saying “AskAFrenchWoman”, LOL.

    I don’t know what I think of Dutch, Germans or Swedes. Nothing much different than French in my opinion. At least nearly all of them speak English, not like us who mostly can’t understand anything all the millions of tourists coming to visit Paris say.

    It’s really embarrassing I think. I know my English is not good, but at least it’s good enough that I can help tourists if they have problems taking the Métro and finding places, or even understanding signs.

    But Whynot would know more about Dutch tourists because he lives down south of France and he said there are many foreigners there, and especially from north Europe. Here in Paris, it’s not so, we get many people from Asia and everywhere in the world.


  6. What strikes me about German and Dutch, which they seem to have in common, is a tendency to behave like they own the place when they go on vacation. it’s how it feels at places where they visit en masse. I remember seeing colonies of Dutch on the coast of Spain and German hordes in Mallorca who really had attitudes that would be considered despicable in their own country : loud, obnoxious, littering beaches with empty bottles, playing mind numbling loud music, no intention of discovering the local culture… In some parts of Mallorca, near beaches, you won’t find Spanish food at all. Sausage, beer, fries and titty bars (where sometimes they bring kids !) make you feel like the place turned into a nightmare. They even have a political party there if I’m to believe the locals.

    I have met and enjoyed my share of decent Dutch and German, it’s not my intention to pretend they’re nations of rude brats. But when they gather in hordes for vacations it’s scary.

  7. many of the French I know (in the Dordogne) cast the Dutch as untrustworthy. As far as Germans are concerned … don’t even go there.

  8. It seems to me that all tourists are alike. In groups, no matter what nationality, they’re obnoxious. Be they Dutch, German, American, whatever.
    I do remember though, as a teenager on vacation in middle France (about 30 years ago mind you), I was greeted coldly, until they learned I was Dutch, not German.
    I was very much welcomed as a Dutch person, really not very much had I been German.

  9. As a Belgian I see this cult of ‘the warm south’ and ‘the cold north’ from another perspective, which shows up how ridiculous it is. I am North of France, but South of The Netherlands and we are generally regarded as cold, ignorant farmers by the French and civilised Zuid-Nederlanders by the Dutch.

    Curiously the French-Speaking Walloons (also north in regard to France) are not seen as cold, must be the language bond.

    To contradict myself though, many Belgians think the Dutch are ignorant, penny-pinching louts.

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