(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…
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.
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. 🙂
(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)