(asked by Nicolette from California)
I was in a relationship with a French guy. The relationship was very good here in CA. So, he invited me to France to spend Christmas with his family, meet his parents, etc. I was excited about this, and accepted.
I arrived to meet a very wealthy family.
During my seven week stay (in their secondary house) I was invited into the big house for 2 meals with them, a lunch on my 5th day there, and the Christmas meal.
That pretty much sums it up for social time with his family.
There were no conversations with me. I stayed for five weeks after Christmas.
I may have taken this personally if they had come to know me AT ALL, but that didn’t happen. (…) So, basically, I want to know if this was a cultural “norm” for this social class in France. Was this a cultural difference? What should I know here? Any cultural explanation you can give on this topic is greatly appreciated.
First, let me tell you that this behavior is not normal and is pretty rude actually. I don’t know of any French family that would do that. Usually, when a French person has a foreign boyfriend/girlfriend, and when there’s no racism issue crawling its way into the situation, the French family is pretty excited to meet them and to share with them whatever it is they have to share (that’s usually a lot of food, some local sight-seeing and a bunch of stories, although this will vary from family to family).
You could have offended them, but if they met you only on your fifth day and barely interacted with you, I doubt that it comes from that.
There may be an issue with their son. Maybe he offended them one way or the other and you were the collateral damage in the story. Still, seven weeks is a long time.
Now, as you mentioned it, there’s the social class issue. Those people are wealthy and wealthy people live under different social rules in France (and sometimes even legal ones), not only in France, I know.
Maybe they were from an aristocratic background, and those people tend to be extremely homogamous. It could have been their way of telling you (and their son) that you’re not of their rank, are not part of the family and never will be.
Or maybe they were used to their son bringing back his new trophy foreign girlfriend every year or so, and they couldn’t care less about you, knowing that once you’re gone, they’ll never see you again. However, even if that was the case, not interacting with you was rude.
Maybe it’s something else entirely, but it’s true that the aristocracy and the upper bourgeoisie in France don’t like to mingle with people “below” them, they don’t feel the need to respect them, nor to be polite with them (in their eyes, they’re not rude, you’re just undeserving of their politeness).
In other words, not pleasant people that you don’t want to meet, unfortunately, they’re the ones controlling the country.
Now, it could be something I’m missing, but I doubt it.
Anybody here has any other suggestion to what it could have been?
Or if anybody from the upper layers of French society reads this and feels that it’s not beneath them to comment on this plebeian blog, I’d like to know their opinion.