Ask a Frenchman Posts

    I’ve recently come upon a French cultural personification called “Marianne.” My simple assumption…


(asked by Larry from Australia)


Can you please tell us a little more of French attitudes towards Robespierre? Is he generally regarded as a bloodthirsty tyrant or a great liberator these days or is the answer more nuanced than that? There are surprisingly few books about him in English and not that many websites either, given his significance as a political figure. Those resources that do exist seem to give a very incomplete picture of him and it is hard to understand the man and his motivations: in other words, was he an idealist who believed passionately and, ultimately, fanatically, in Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, or a cynical, power-hungry opportunist? Some websites give the impression that he was very protective of his younger siblings growing up and this formed his attitude to the extent that he thought of all of the French citizens as his family and he wanted to “protect” and father them all, whereas other sites give the impression he was an extremely cold and ruthless human being, softly spoken (as opposed to a ranting, table-thumper like Hitler) but extremely dangerous to have as an opponent.

I think it is important to understand as he is the first in the long line of lawyers-turned-politicians that dominate our democratic parliaments today, so I would greatly appreciate in any insights or thoughts you have.



(asked by Jessica from Singapore)


Your blog is great! I was wondering whether you could recommend some books by contemporary French authors? I like reading translated novels from authors of a country. I think reading could help us understand the French way of thinking!

Which authors are popular in France? And do you think any of them are translated into English? What English books are popular in France?




(asked by Kristin from Scotland)


Bonjour Monsieur,

I was just wondering what French people think of ginger/red hair and if there is any prejudice against it?
I just call it Ginger hair but some people find this term offensive. Is there an offensive term in French or is roux/rousse just a descriptive word without any derogative connotations?

I have seen quite a few French websites about ginger hair but what is the real attitude towards ginger hair and how are they portrayed in society and in the media? For example quite often they are seen as the temptress or the nerd in a movie, or they have the reputation of being hotblooded or fiery tempered in novels etc is this the same?

I live in Scotland where ginger hair is very common but it must be much rarer in France, how is it viewed there? Are there any preconceptions about ginger hair? What is it like being a ginger kid in France or for that matter an adult?

Do you know any good jokes about gingers or any funny stories?
Also what do french men think about women with red hair?
Do they find women with ginger hair attractive and what about men with ginger hair?

I am ginger myself and I am really interested as how we are seen in France some of my french friends say people think it is funny yet others assure me that ginger hair is lovely but I was wondering if they are just trying to being nice!? I have looked up many articles and I am hoping you can give me your unbiased view as you have no need to sugar coat your answer!

Thank you very much in advance for taking the time to read this and hopefully you will shed some light for me on how gingers are viewed in France!

Merci beaucoup,