What do the French think of the Québécois? (that’s French Canadians for US Americans)


(asked by David B. from Québec)


I would like to know, what do the French really think of the Franco-Québécois, or even of the non-francophones from Quebec and Canada. Just to see as to how it differs from their overall and/or personal appreciation of that great American figure that is the college kid, the tourist, the expat, and their otherwise non as caricatural compatriots…


Well, first you need to know that the French are fully aware that Franco-Québécois are very different from anyone else in North America. That may not be the case for other Canadians, as French people can’t really make a distinction between Americans and Anglo-Canadians. And as far as non-francophones from Québec, it’s quite simple: most French people don’t even know they exist.

For the French, Canada’s population is made of two kinds of people:

  • The English speakers that are all over Canada except Québec and that are either no different from Americans, or simply irrelevant.
  • The French speakers that are in Québec and only in Québec.
  • All the other ones (francophones outside of Québec, non-francophones in Québec, natives, etc.) simply don’t exist.

And so, what do the French think about Franco-Québécois?

A few things…
Let’s see…

They think that Franco-Québécois speak funny.

Delusional anti-Anglo French people (the Anti-American ones and the ones that are convinced that English is going to destroy the French language) love French Canadians for the resistance they symbolize against the Anglo enemy. However, be aware that those Talibans of the French language love the Québécois in Québec only, from the distance. When actually interacting with them, those French people can be pretty condescending with the Québécois, after all, they think that they don’t speak the “real” French language, just a bastardized French that just good enough as a rampart against the invasion of the English language that’s going to wipe us all out.

Apart from that, “normal” French people don’t think much about the Québécois, except for a general positive feeling, the kind you have for a distant cousin you see once every few years. They’re family, but they’re not really part of your life.

The second main topic as far as the relationship between the Québécois and the French is concerned is the Franco-Québécois singer. Our English-speaking readership may not be aware of that, but you need to know that France is literally invaded by Franco-Québécois singers… It seems that France really has only a few French singers, most of them actually come from Belgium and Canada.

Young Celine Dion

Dear American friends, this is what you escaped in the 80’s.

Why is that? Well, I think it makes sense when you’re a Franco-Québécois singer that if you have a potential market of 65 million people on the other side of the ocean, why get stuck with your home market of 7 millions? Also, being Québécois is somewhat exotic in France, which is always a good marketing tool.
One thing everyone must be aware of is that the French population is divided into two irreconcilable sides when it comes to Franco-Québécois singers in France.
On one side, you have people with no musical taste and/or standards whatsoever and they love them, these really are their favorite singers.
On the other side, you have people with musical taste/culture/standards, and they can’t stand Franco-Québécois singers, and they hate the Québecois for sending them to us. For example, you must be aware that Céline Dion has been huge since the early 80’s in France… yes… I know… Moving to the US and have a career there was one of the best thing that could happen to France in terms of music landscape (it wasn’t good news for me as I lived in the US at the time).

I have a question for any Franco-Québécois that would read those lines: Why do you send us all of your worst singers? I mean, I know for a fact that Québec has also some very good musicians and very decent singers and bands, so why do we only get the crap? Is that all because of the trend that Starmania started about 40 years ago and that Céline Dion kept alive for the next two decades? Why?

As a last word, I can’t talk about Franco-Québécois and the French without talking about Marcel Béliveau. Know that the French loved Marcel Béliveau, that to many of them, he may be the funniest thing that ever came from the Americas. All the French still love him and miss him dearly. If you’re a Franco-Québécois and need a conversation starter with a French person, just mention Marcel Béliveau. 🙂


Marcel Beliveau

Marcel Béliveau, soon to enter the Panthéon.


(note: this post was originally written on another blog back in 2009, it may or may not need an update. If you’re French and think it needs one, feel free to comment on it)

(note 2: I usually try to give credits to the pictures I take from the internet and I make sure it’s OK to share them – and by the way, do the same if you want to take some of mine, see Community Commons rules in the sidebar – but in this case, hard to find the actual source, sorry… If you are the owner, please drop me a note, I’ll give you credit or take it out, you decide)




About David Billa

David was born and raised in the French South West. After a few years in the US and a few more in Paris, he finally settled down in Japan. He blogs here about his various experiences and travels, with an emphasis on his home country, France.

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33 thoughts on “What do the French think of the Québécois? (that’s French Canadians for US Americans)

  • Margaret

    With respect to the singers, I think it’s because Québec invests a lot in helping new musicians get off the ground, and we also have a culture of promoting indie music. The French musician Daran moved to Montreal and cited that as the main reason. Here, we have live music in bars and cafés all over the place, and we’ll go to concerts and support unknown artists. From what I’ve heard from my French musician friends, there are very few opportunities to perform in public. Basically, in France, people don’t want to listen to you unless they know who you are (from TV, perhaps) and they know you’re good, from what I understand, and the economics does not work in favour of new musicians trying to break in. I think the many excellent French musicians have had potential careers stunted due to this.

    • David Billa Post author

      Yes, all this is true, but why is it that all the Québécois singers that become big in France are lame, when I know for a fact that there is very good music in Québec (for the reasons you mention)?

    • Charles

      French artist managers are amazed how talented are Québécois singers. They have much more experience performing live then French ones. That is what said Isabelle Boulay years ago. When she started to sing in Europe it is after 20 years in bars and night clubs in Quebec.

  • PAUL

    You forgot the Acadians… The next sizeable French speakers outside of Quebec. Ask a person from France what an Acadian is without resorting to saying well you know the Cajuns… Acadians are famous for wanting to be left alone, especially by the Québécois and secondly by France neither of which have done us any favours in the 375 years we have been here in the Maritime provinces.

      • Bill

        Great insight
        I’m a Kiwi living in Canada & was looking for an understanding of France Vs Quebec
        Canadians aren’t usually aware of how large the Canadian Province Quebec is either
        Quebec is over twice the size of Texas and four times the size of Montana
        also it’s nearly 3 times the size of France !

        • David Billa Post author

          Be careful with your size comparisons. Texas is roughly the size of France, so Québec can’t be both twice the size of Texas and three times of France. 😉

          Double-checking, Québec is roughly 1.5 million sq. km.
          France is roughly 670,000 sq. km, and Texas almost 700,00 sq km.
          So Québec is a little more than twice the size of both. 🙂

  • flo

    Not sure which generation you belong to but nobody I know has ever heard of Marcel Béliveau, so I think using him as a conversation tip might not be the best idea 😉
    I think you are a bit hard on French Canadian singers, Garou is not so bad! But then maybe I am a person without musical taste 😛

    • David Billa Post author

      Not sure which generation you belong to for never having heard of Marcel Béliveau. 🙂

      I think I may have heard Garou once… If I have, I have heard him sing once, not twice… 🙂

  • R J

    Interesting read. I was pleased to find a person of French birth who was less than enamored with Celine Dion. I have always felt that she was a poor singer, to say the least. I also believe that her smiley personality was forced, not real.
    As I have never been to either France or Quebec, I cannot comment otherwise on your manuscript. However, if you will indulge my retaliation, why does France send the U. S. so many untalented actors?

    • David Billa Post author

      Oh, I know lots of French people who dislike Céline Dion… Pretty much all the ones who have a musical culture and some taste. However, as I think I have mentioned, she actually sings when she sings in French, as opposed to yells when she does it in English.

      For the French actors, I don’t know… Which ones are you alluding to? In any case, blame Hollywood that called them over.

    • Sarah

      RJ, I can answer that (3 and half years too late, I know)! That’s because we don’t have good actors, at all…so whichever ones you get, they’re bound to be bad.

  • Marie-Noëlle

    David, I can tell that M. Béliveau was known in France through his tv program. That was quite popular. But it stopped a good while ago. Some people can remember his jokes mostly. I can tell you that my 2 children (both in their 20’s) have never heard of him.
    And they, alike me, do not know any singer from Québec apart from Garou. When I say “know” I do not mean “like” nor “dislike”. We do not know any musicians…
    We know more comic artists, such as Anthony Kavanagh, Stéphane Rousseau, Rachid Badouri… etc… through their live shows (or on tv). Gilbert Rozon is quite well-known as well.
    To me, Québec is famous for its artistic creation and festivals (theatre, improvisation, circus, …).
    Is it a cliché ? I haven’t got the clue… I’ve never been.
    You, David + readers can tell me.

  • Norm

    I live here with the french ‘peppers’ or ‘pepsis’ as we like to call them and here’s the summary: If you are partying and you want a lot of noise and classic good time you’ll never forget they are great.. if you want to work, have a relationship of live life as a normal human being they are garbage of the country. Their values are shit, their daughters are whores, their men are stupid and their politicians are weak. They are for the most part unconscious and schtizoid personality disorder is their mainstay psychiatric condition. If you want a a bunch of freaks to live in the now with, good sex, great food, lots of top quality drugs.. they are the best in the universe. Just don’t expect the other shoe to drop, it never will. They are one-dimensional in time. Planning for the future or looking to the past, rarely plays into the conscious awareness. I wouldn’t live any other place, but that’s only because I’m one crazy fucked up individual from being brought up here in the first place. If you hate big city corporate capitalism, this is the place for you. If you want the true artist life, come on down. Just do NOT marry a FC. You WILL get divorced – 100% of the time. Marriage is as foreign to their culture as is eating monkey brains is to ours.

    • David Billa Post author

      I was not going to publish your comment, because it’s not making any sense, but I’m intrigued so if you ever read this answer, who knows?

      Where is “here”? Who are “they”? What is a “French peppers or pepsis as we like to call them”? What is a FC?
      I have no freaking idea what and who you are talking about.
      I don’t want to sound patronizing, but you’re aware that when you’re saying something, the important thing is that your audience understands you, right?

      • Rose

        Randomly found your post.

        I guess you decided to post Norm’s comment… lol
        Not that I agree with what he wrote, I can however shed some light:
        “here” is either Quebec as a whole or Montreal
        “they” are French-Canadians
        “French peppers” or “Pepsis” are slang words used by English speaking Quebecers to slur against French speaking Quebecers. The French speaking Quebecers in turn call English speaking Quebecers “des tête carré” (square heads)
        “FC” is French Canadian

        Hope that helps

  • Grant Mattos

    During my time living in Toronto for much of this year, I visited Montreal twice. I can honestly say one thing about Montrealers anyway is they seem to worship France. Talking to alot of the residents there they almost look up to France as an idol figure of sorts, and alot of restaurants and other things are France themed, including flags of France around. Most in Montreal anyway seem to have a stronger allegiance and passion for France than they do the rest of Canada.

    I have a feeling that people from France are not as enthusiastic towards the Quebec Canadians as vice versa, and look at them as a bit of the annoying little brother. I could be wrong on that.

    • David Billa Post author

      I think a lot of Québécois seem to worship France, as some sort of defense mechanism vs the Anglo world that’s surrounding them… I don’t know if I make sense, even less so if I’m right, but it’s been my feeling.

      In France, beyond the jokes, the singers and my sarcasm, I think that overall French people like Québécois (also partly because they’re the Astérix – not sure if you’re familiar with the character – alone resisting against the Anglos surrounding them), but all in all, they’re not that relevant nor important in the grand scheme of things. There aren’t a lot of them, they’re far, they don’t matter that much overall.

  • Luke

    Someone should update the French by telling them that les Quebecoises are now assimilated into Western culture, but happen to speak French. The idea that Quebec culture is radically different from anything surrounding it is laughable, and the continued so-called “crisis” regarding any threat to the French language is purely a red herring, a dread tale that baleful old people mutter to themselves behind endless cigarettes, not realusing they’ve been systematically kept fearful and xenophobic by far more worldly and avaricious political masters than the supposed Anglo wolves on the border.

    • David Billa Post author

      “Western culture”? Is there such a thing?
      I know of “Western civilization” but of course the Québecois (and I assume the Québecoises too, are they that different from their male counterparts, that you distinguish them this way?) are part of it (they didn’t assimilate, they always were a part of it), it goes without saying.
      Or did you mean “North American culture”? Except that North American culture singular doesn’t exist, plural, yes, Québecois culture is one of them. Not it’s not radically different from East Coast Anglo-Canadian, but it’s not the same either.

  • Luke

    I chose the feminine owing their personhood, and as we all know a person in French is an “une” or an “elle”. Donc, les personnes qui vienntent du Quebec sont les Quebecoises, non? I live in Montreal, am biingual and of French Canadian descent, and I can tell you that “les pure laine” as the old school Quebecers like to call them selves are some of the laziest, most sanctimonious, overty racist and entitled fools that walk the Earth. At least some of their kids and almost all of their grandkids are finally waking up to the wider world and accepting that they can’t live and prosper in a vacuum. Francophone Quebec millenials are bilingual, trilingual, cool and in touch. They don’t don’t at all what France thinks. There is sanity here, after all.

    • David Billa Post author

      This is not how it works. Les personnes qui viennent du Québec sont les Québecois. When you say “une personne québecoise”, québecoise is an adjective that agrees with the noun “personne”. When you say Les Québécoises, you’re using a noun and as such, what you mean is indeed women from Québec. (are you sure you’re bilingual?)

      For the rest, whatever you say.

  • Patrick Miller

    This is probably WAY out of date, but I have just discovered your blog, and I have been exploring.

    As an English-speaking Canadian living in Ontario, I found this question about France and French-Canadians an interesting topic. My wife is Quebecoise, and her mother has told us stories of the appalling rudeness she has encountered in Paris, due to her Quebec accent. Whatever.

    Regarding the post from “Norm”:

    “Here” refers to Quebec. Norm lives in Quebec, for reasons I can’t quite understand, given his opinion of the place and its people.

    French-Canadians are (or were) referred to as “Pepsis” (Pepsies?) owing to their fondness (real or not) for Pepsi-Cola over Coke. I’ve never head the term “Peppers”, but I don’t suppose that means anything much.

    “FC’s”? French-Canadians. What you call Franco-Quebecois. Just words, I guess.

    I must admit I was a bit surprised that you published his rant at all, as it seems to violate pretty much all of your rules for “Ask a Frenchman”. “Their values are shit, their daughters are whores”? Really? It seemed pretty familiar, though. Anti-French (read: Quebec-French) bigotry is pretty much the same as any other brand of bigotry; just fill in the blank. I’ve heard it all before.

    • Charles

      May be this guy is a reader of Mordecai Richler who knicknamed sows French Canadians mothers. I never understood how come a a writer of jewish extraction was not more aware of minorities concerns. First time I heard that stuff I was insulted because my two grand mothers were not sows. Even if they had have respectively 19 and 11 children. Before the sixties women had many children that is was call ”La revanche des berçeaux” (revenche of the cradles) in order to keep our influence in Canada when immigration was used to drown us in the english ocean.

  • Henry

    I’m quite late on this post but I like it and I’d like to add my pov since I’m what people call a pure laine… What’s the definition of a pure laine? It’s because I can easily trace back my 4 direct families ancestors to France, back to mid 17th century In Normandie. I have 13 generations on my back of true survivors who fought their heart out to preserve their culture. I love them and the only thing I can do it’s to pay respect for their courage and resilience and promote their heritage. We are attached to this land as much as the native. If you visit us you will find that genealogy it’s one of our national activities… I’m I an intolerant racist bigot because of that? It’s just historical facts. French Canadian are the result of wars and treaties that forged north America. Worst of the worst I come from the north of Quebec but live now in Montreal since 25 years. Usually when I say that Canada’s anglo run in fear.
    Montreal,.. the bohemian party city. Believe me It was the perfect city for my 20’s now in my 40’s it’s a mitigate feeling. One of the first thing I’ve experienced arriving in Montreal is how some of the English minorities of the city viscerally hate the french Canadian??? Specially those old Brit farts. It’s so bad that we make fun out of it. Nothing is more hilarious to tease a Montrealer anglo’s brit till his square head explode….You have to understand that the Canadian identity for the English side of Canada is quite new on a historical standpoint. I would say early 20th century. Before that and because the Canadians was referring to the french Canadian it’s understandable that the English brit Tories have kept their roots to UK and called them self English till the 20th. Like any diaspora who lag from their country of origin, Canada anglo’s kept a fascination for their queen even more than the English them self… I’ts very pathetic and obviously we cannot connect on this queen topic even if the queen have roots in Normandie and also that’s why English language is a creole of French vocabulary in a Saxon / German structure. It is mainly because the French have ruled England for almost 300 years. Now the craziest thing is that we mix again French and English in a Franglais that was originally french words…It’s schizophrenic…Or it’s the language evolution. English and French are bonded for ever…
    Because Canadians was the french, Irish, Scottish, and so on also kept their original identity. We have an Identity problem in Canada and now because Anglo’s finally accepted the Canadian one’s it’s the french Canadian who associate them self to Quebecois to void assimilation from the 70’s PM Trudeau’s multiculturalism act. Is’n it quite ironic. Some will see xenophobia other’s a survival reflex or a bit of both.

    Now the Quebec France relation from this side of the ocean. For the record I’m married, yes we still do it some time’s and on top of it with an Arabic women…We are mostly atheist but our roman catholic inquisition past is only one generation away. Now who can call me a xenophobic racist. Try to ask a French man if he would ever marry an Arabic women. Racism in France for the Maghreb is so bad that my wife take’s my family name when we travel in France. Usually French people love us as their cousins, they are more open toward Quebecois then people from their next village. Of course they are full of stereotypes. They still think that because winter is so bad we live in a underground city…and when we go out it’s to trade with natives. On the Quebec side we understand and appreciate well the French culture and food , they are a bit odd with the American culture and their English accent if awful. Our general feeling is like most of the planet towards French. We don’t like their arrogance and we have the same stereotypes on the bread, beret, smell, and the way they express their X chromosome for man instead of the Y like the Americans.
    Céline Dion is for masse populi like Beyonce.
    I don’t know why you came up with Béliveau…I’ts an 8o’s cheesy TV show.
    I do miss though on the French side the 80’s Apostrophes show with Bernard Pivot…
    Some times I watch it when it plays as a rerun and my wife screams at me…
    France should not level them self to the american trend but promote what they are good at: culture, food, intellectual goal.
    Cheers : Santé…

  • Nathan Guillemette

    Well I am French Canadian so I would like to offer my input. Quebecois is not synonymous with French Canadian just so you know. The term Quebecois only pertains to people living in Quebec. Quebecois could also include people from the large Irish and Scottish Canadian minorities living inside Quebec. There are plenty of French in Canada in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta. These people’s families have probably lived in these provinces for Centuries, so it would be foolish to call them “Quebecois”. If you want to talk about the French Community of Canada, French Canadian or Francophone is more appropriate. I’m not offended by the use of Quebecois or anything, I just thought you should know.

    • David Billa Post author

      Thanks for your input.
      However, for most French people and American people alike, Francophone Canadian and Québécois are roughly the same thing. Also, in American English, the term “Quebecois” doesn’t really exist, you’re Canadian, you speak French, you’re French Canadian and that is all. 🙂

      • Amelie

        You’re kind of a jackass when I think about that. You’re french, talk about France. You don’t know one thing about Canada, or Québec or its people. Why would you talk about a country you dont even know?

        • David Billa Post author

          I was going to respond something sarcastic around your sense of humor, or rather lack thereof, but actually, I’m a bit puzzled by your comment. Have you actually read the post?

          Where exactly am I talking about Québec? Last time I checked the post (and that was two minutes ago), I talk about how most French people tend to perceive Canada and Québec. I don’t want to insult your intelligence and spell out how both things are very different. Or should I?

    • David Billa Post author

      Me? Where?

      Fastest in France? in Québec? in the world?

      In France, I believe I have. When I rode the TGV from Paris to Marseille, I believe it was the fastest at the time.
      I’ve never been to Québec.
      And in the world, the Internet is telling me that the fastest train right now is the Shanghai Maglev, and no, I haven’t tried it.