A few observations on the French!

Our columnist Mathieu Bock-Côté is currently staying in France, from where he observes French news from a Quebec perspective.

A few observations on the French!

Our columnist Mathieu Bock-Côté is currently staying in France, from where he observes French news from a Quebec perspective.

We say a lot of bad things about clichés. Too many, in fact. Because a cliche didn't become a cliche for nothing, and it doesn't stay alive for no reason.

Let's take one by chance: we like to say that the French like to debate. This cliché, let's just say it, is true.

At the table, whether at the restaurant or at home, they argue with each other, or at least they do not hesitate to raise their voices and tell themselves very frankly that they are kidding. And this is even more true when they are on television, where talk shows are everywhere.


The discussion heats up and we wonder if they will end up hitting each other on the head.

And yet, no. Not at all, even. Or at least not all the time. They discuss, firmly, very firmly, even, but in the end they only discuss, in an infinitely more lively way than we will ever do in Quebec.

You could say that they have made conversation a way of life.

Just a few days ago, I was with two young friends from Quebec passing through Paris on the terrace of a café. A man is listening to our conversation at the next table. He finds the opportunity to join our exchange. Everything was not forced, it almost went without saying. There is also a sense of French friendship that is unique in the world. The friendship here, I believe, is deeper than elsewhere.

Additional observation: the French care about the right word. It strikes me. I'm not saying that they always find it, but they are inhabited by this concern. We can make fun of the Anglicisms they adopt by believing themselves to be modern and American. Basically, they explore the language in a rich way and bring it to life while maintaining an intimate link with literature.

Last observation: there is, whatever one may say, a French elegance. Not only are the women well dressed, but the men are too. And as long as we don't consider style as pure fashionable coquetry, but as a way of inhabiting the world, of presenting ourselves to others while having a little dress at the same time, elegance pulls us up .


I am convinced of one thing: Quebec grows by cultivating its ties with France. It grows there every day. He grew up there politically, of course, because France is our only ally.

I do not idealize France. She has her faults and her quirks. She is heading towards a major political crisis. But it carries a magnificent culture, which speaks to us, and to which we have immediate access.

It was otherwise said that it was our mother country.

This French chronicle was linked to the presidential year. It comes to an end. I might pick it up again in the fall. In the meantime, I will end it with two simple formulas for this country which is so close to us: long live France! And long live the French!

We know that our time is losing its mind in the name of inclusion. We had further proof of this recently, when Le Parisien told us that in many French schools we no longer celebrate Mother's Day, but the day of the people we love. Because we should not offend children who do not have a mother or who have a bad relationship with theirs. In the name of inclusion, a universally appreciated symbol is sabotaged.

Anyone who reads French newspapers is struck by the violence that affects certain neighborhoods – a violence that the media tend to present as a series of miscellaneous facts, as if they refuse to draw the political consequences. However, in Marseille, in the south of France, a few days ago, a doctor was stabbed in front of his children by a man claiming to act in the name of Allah. Once again. You get used to even the worst.

Talk to Parisians about their mayor, Anne Hidalgo, and they'll all tell you pretty much the same thing: she trashed her city, or at least let it trash. Paris remains a magnificent city for those who visit it, of course. But it is indeed a city deconstructed on a daily basis by absurd municipal decisions. But let’s keep the essential in mind: Paris is beautiful! It's hard not to fall in love with this city.