Over 2000 French and 2000 Britons were polled by YouGov as part of an experiment for Megane, on their opinions of one another. They were shown a series of images and asked to identify which country they were associated with. Almost one third (30%) of French respondents thought 'Britishness' was associated with an image of a pensioner on a mobility scooter, whereas nearly a quarter (23%) chose a fit-looking Tour de France competitor as most accurately representing themselves.
Other images the French thought were associated with Britain included a slice of processed cheese (18%) and a plastic bag caught in a tree (5%). Over half (53%) the French surveyed associate the British with a flat cap and over three-quarters (79%) with a cup of tea.
In contrast, to depict themselves, 90% of the French selected a platter of delicious cheese and 63% a glass of champagne.
When quizzed on things they thought the Brits were not good at; the French came up with a short but damning list: cooking, love, eating (too much), dressing, speaking French and 'everything'. The British were more circumspect, with a fifth (20%) claiming not to be able to give a single French failing, and appearing to reach for shortcomings such as 'getting anything done in August'. Not being friendly or accepting other cultures were also among those listed as flaws.
Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos said, "Cultural idiosyncrasies are what we often use to draw conclusions about the collective personality of a nation. In the case of the French and English, who have such a longstanding historical connection, both politically, socially and militarily, these stereotypes are bound to be exaggerated. While such stereotypes are inevitably reductive, what is interesting is to look behind the stereotypes to get a glimpse of the beliefs and values, not only of the nation in question but also of those who hold those beliefs." The survey, on behalf of The Megane Experiment, went on to ask what each nation thought made the other happy. Over half (52%) the French polled thought the Brits most enjoyed 'Having a cup of tea', with nearly a quarter (23%) suggesting watching soccer in the pub made them most happy.
When asked about the French, nearly a quarter (23%) of Brits thought 'Feeling culturally superior' made their Gallic counterparts most happy, with almost a fifth (17%) suggesting 'being thought of as attractive'.
When asked about famous British men and women, however, the French were able to come up with an extensive list, which included Shakespeare, Churchill, Nelson, Oliver Cromwell and Sean Connery. However, when the British were asked to name famous Frenchmen or women, only Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle beat 'Don't Know'. Further down the list came veteran crooner Sasha Distel and Inspector Clousseau, the fictional detective.