"I'm sick of being told I'm not French enough"

When I was eight years old, I drew a birds-eye-view picture of Paris.

The whole city was mapped out in that burnt orange coloured texta colour, the one usually reserved for drawing tanned people and loaves of bread.

My illustration was vast, replete with all the necessary Parisian details of baguette stands, Chanel-clad ladies and men in skivvies; I was essentially mapping out my future.

I was going to move to Paris, you see. Move to Paris and eat baguettes and wear Chanel and marry some skivvy-wearing Frenchman.

There is no other country with such an eternal pulse of romance– even as a (reasonably) functional adult I have silently vowed to myself I won’t visit Paris until I’m in love.  It would just be too depressing for me to be attempting to fulfil my childhood fantasy stag, right? And I know you’re all nodding when I say it’s a widely held and commonly shared belief that the French just do it better.

Mind out of the gutter, mon amie, I’m not just talking about French sans-pants parties. I’m referring to everything. We are constantly been reminded that the French are kicking our ass across the board: eating, not eating, having sex, not having sex, raising children, being a lesbian, working, conversing and well, just living.

Long before Blue Is The Warmest Colour made us très jealous we weren’t a) French and b) a fabulous lesbian; the French Do It Better Fan Club already had a membership wait-list.

Leading the brigade was former senior executive at Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, and spokeswoman for Veuve Cliquot, Ms. Mireille Guiliano. She kicked things off with the widely acclaimed ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’, followed up by the equally persuasive ‘French Women Don’t Get Facelifts.’ Are you taking notes?

Another big name at the Francophile literary orgy is Pamela Druckerman with ‘Bringing up Bebé’, in which she tells us why exactly it is French children are so astoundingly well behaved.  When I heard about that book I was all like, wait, what? I swear I’ve never met a French child… But I guess that’s the point.

I could actually rattle off title after title of best selling books, all with the same running theme: you are a piggish Western slob, and French people are looking at you disdainfully. But in a glamorous fashion. Glamorous distain.

As someone who spent the better part of pre-puberty planning what carpet would go in her studio apartment in Montmartre; this whole Holier-Than-Thou attitude of the French has really got to me.


Alas, I surrender: mon petit assholes of the French variety have delivered their message loud and clear – the dream is over. My fantasy is finished. It’s been 18 years since I drew that map of Paris. I live in Sydney and the only person wearing a skivvy is me, and the only person eating pastries (Carbs! Quelle horreur!) is me, and the only person not wearing Chanel…you guessed it, is me.

I have long since mourned riding around in a bike with a basket full of flowers and baguettes, I have grieved for the English speaking boyfriend I’ve acquired in lieu of Gerard Depardieu, and I have positively SOBBED for my wardrobe which is noticeably missing many (any!) of the interlocking C’s. The essence of the French, it would seem, missed me entirely. I am Just Not French Enough.

Just this week, I visited a breakfast buffet two days in a row, and ate three plates in each sitting AND stole pastries for… well, I’m actually not sure what for. I sleep in a Garth Brooks 1999 Tour t-shirt and have been known to use baking paper as a facial blotting sheets.

If French people have the dignity, intrigue and effortless elegance of French cinema, I’m like the human equivalent of World's Funniest Home Videos.

Parisian dreams dashed and no apparent signs thus far that any local man would consider wearing a skivvy for me, I have had to accept my fate as an average Australian.

So I will cry it from the rooftops with pride: I am not just not French enough!

I cannot only eat half a croissant for breakfast; I would pass out by midday. I would completely consider Botox once Father Time decides to make me look like a deflated Trojan. Baguettes hurt my mouth to chew and if we’re really honest here, I don’t get French cinema. It makes me depressed.

It therefore seems entirely poignant that the only phrase in French I have managed to pick up over my years is this:

Je suis désoléje ne parle pas français.

(I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.)

I do, however, rock a skivvy like it’s no one’s business.