Why are the French so skinny - and the British so miserable?

...and why is Scotland the friendliest country in Europe while the rest of us are rude and arrogant!

You have probably noticed that when you start typing a search into google it suggests the words that you are about to type. These suggested words (called 'autocomplete') are based on many thousands of queries by other users, and are the most popular 'endings' to the phrase you have started to type.

So these automatically completed phrases tell us what people are searching for, and a useful insight into our perceptions of other nations across Europe.

So it seemed like an equally good idea to do the same for France, the French, and other countries in Europe to see what people really think of us all and what we think of each other

There were two ways to ask the questions, for example: 'Why is France so...?' and 'Why are French so...?' with google autocomplete filling in the '...' for us. So without further ado here is what people are searching for...

Why is France so...gay, popular, weak
Why are French so...rude, skinny, slim

Why is Britain so...depressing, rainy, cloudy
Why are British so...miserable, rude, arrogant

Why is England so...cloudy, gloomy, expensive
Why are English so...arrogant, cold, reserved

Why is Scotland so...violent, crap, wet
Why are Scottish so...friendly, bitter (and 'why are Scottish men so hot?' as a third suggestion!)

Why is Germany so...rich, awesome, strong
Why are Germans so...smart, rude, tall

Why is Italy so...corrupt, dirty, famous
Why are Italians so...short, loud, dark

Why is Spain so...good at soccer, racist, good at football
Why are Spanish so...rude, racist, loud

And I could hardly ignore America since the original survey that inspired this idea was about them...and they don't really do any better than the rest of us. People typically search for:

Why is America so...fat, great, religious
Why are Americans so ...fat, stupid, rude

I'll leave you to decide whether these common perceptions of Europeans are the same as your own. But I will note that the original American survey found that 'boring' was the most common result for American states, while for European countries it seems to be 'rude'.

I'm not sure if it is better to be boring or rude.

And I was having such fun I couldn't help going into google.fr and doing a little test by searching 'pourquoi les anglais sont...' (why are the English...?) to see what the French were asking about the English.

And surprised to see that one of the most popular questions asked by the French about the English was 'pourquoi les anglais sont jaloux des français?' (why are the English jealous of the French?) Make of that what you will!



  1. Miss Dolly August 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

    Do you know what? i live i france and im a Brit and to be honest I dont think the Brits are rude and reserved. I get bored of this opinion and think that we have def. moved on or at least a generation has. Yes, we are sarcastic. Yes, we get embarrassed when someone doesnt understand us (we are pretty crap at learning lots of a language – instead a few words will do – but we still learn a few words!!! Most of the time we have a go!!) Most of the Brits i know that live in the south are very willing to adapt and open up to the way of life here. Even if you are retired – which i am not – it can be very frustrating living in the south – it seems the southern french (a world apart from the rest of france) are not ready to adapt and accept the Brits (i am married to a southern french man). To me they can be just as rude and just as arrogant – and so unwilling to invite new/ other tastes (for want of a word) into there culture. Apart from that – i love it here but honestly, the french can be the toughest of people to join, for many different reasons. And Boris – come on – they are chain smokers!! ;-)

  2. Boris August 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm |

    Miss Dolly (nice name!), I was being diplomatic saying they aren’t ‘fat, soulless, chain smoking people’ by avoiding the question of whether I agree with any part of it…

  3. Rob September 12, 2012 at 4:30 am |

    Oddly enough, I have recently had visitors staying over the summer from both Germany and Scandinavia, and the two “stereotypes” that both commented independantly are: “I thought all French were supposed to be thin and stylish?” and “I cant believe it, the French are more arrogant and worse with Languages than you Brits”….

    How perceptions change…!!

    And possibly due to the late start to summer “I thought the weather would be better down here”

  4. Entente Cordiale September 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm |

    I am a regular reader of your blog, it makes me smile most of the time so what a (bad) surprise to read ram sweet’s xenophobic comments on this friendly and peaceful website !
    Oddly enough although I am french, I am not fat, I don’t smoke…hopefully I am not soulless… and last but not least I am open-minded and very afraid of prejudice !

  5. Boris September 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm |

    I think Ram slightly misunderstood the post…and while I suspect more French smoke than in some other countries I certainly don’t know where the idea they are ‘fat and soulless’ came from!

  6. Raph September 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    Most Brits I know, many from the South-East, some from the North, a few others from… somewhere in the middlle! are open etc and do not suffer at all from the “little englander” syndrome. On the French side, most people I now have no particular prejudice against the Brits, many keep asking me when they come and visit. I am actually always surprised at how many of my friends want to visit the UK and spend some time there, learn the language etc.
    Sometimes I wonder, it might be a good idea to build an extension and start a B&B business! :)

  7. Nelly November 26, 2012 at 7:37 am |


    I am from South Africa and thought I’d do the same Google search… it went like this:

    Why is South Africa so… far behind in development
    special (I expect this one was a probing/ sarcastic question)

    Hmmmm :/

    Why are South Africans so… angry

    The answer to that last one is ‘survival of the fittest’ and the rest of the world only see the rich (fittest) and not the gazillions of small, skinny ‘natives’ who struggle to survive. I was visiting a family farm this weekend and was astounded as to how short and skinny the men were in the local farming community. #hint: half of them drink more (cheap wine) than they ever eat.

    I suppose it is also very hard to classify “South Africans” as a whole since there are 11 official languages here (which makes for very colourful conversation and fabulous misunderstandings) and even within an ‘ethnic group’ there are so many differences, so it depends on who the rest of the world do business with and who they meet on holidays! A great proportion of our population have never been outside their home-town and never met a tourist, so how would people really know what they are like…

    Cool post ;)

  8. Boris November 26, 2012 at 8:44 am |

    I like ‘special’, can’t quite imagine what people are hoping to discover, sarcastic or otherwise.
    I suspect weight wise France is similar, with rich city folk getting fatter while hard working countryfolk stay thinner (rather than lower-income people getting fatter due to poor diet and lack of exercise, which seems to be the case in many western countries) – but that’s just based on me looking around, not scientific evidence.