A Tourists’ Paradise? What do the French really think of us?

France is the most popular tourist destination in the world and has been for some time. There is an increasing number of international visitors coming every year, reaching 86.3 million total tourists last year in 2015 – nearly 10 million more than the USA in second place.

Traditionally, the majority of visitors have been from Europe, with German, British and Belgian being the most common visiting nationalities.  The image below is from 2014 but the trends remain unchanged. Let’s see how much Brexit affects the figures.

How many visitors to France
Figures from the Banque de France (2015)

As has been discussed many times, the list of reasons for visiting France is practically endless. For many potential tourists, however, that list tends not contain ‘the politeness of the people’ or ‘the wonderful welcoming attitude of our hosts’.  This feeling is not limited to the UK. Across Europe, the traits most commonly associated with the French are arrogance, haughtiness and obstinacy.

This time, however, we wanted to take a look at it from the French perspective.  What do they think of us Brits and the other nations of Europe, particularly in relation to visiting France and being guests in their country?

We seem to have a pretty low opinion of ourselves as ‘Brits Abroad’ and seem to constantly celebrate and document drunkenness and poor behaviour.

Are we really that bad?

To try and understand how the French feel about their neighbouring nations we carried out a survey.  It was multiple choice and the answers were always:

  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Russia

Strap in. Some of this may be hard to take.


(1) People from which country are the least polite when visiting France?

Russians were the rudest when visiting France

As we can see, almost half of the respondents voted for Russia being the ‘rudest’ country.  At 44.8% this is definitely statistically significant.

It seems we should be pretty pleased with this result, as, while we did come second, we are battling neck and neck with the Germans for that silver medal.

French males voted more heavily for Russians being the rudest.  Could this be something to do with their culture of violence when travelling abroad? Exemplified most recently at the Euros, surrounding the Russia-England match.

French females, however, were more inclined to vote for the British as the rudest visitors to their country. Could this possibly be a reflection on British lad culture, a celebration of drinking and ‘chatting up’ girls.


(2) Tourists from which country are least likely to try and speak French?
Apparently this is not just a British trait. While we were a close second, it was, again, the Russians who fell on their sword.

The other results are as to be expected. Belgium coming in final place here is no surprise as it is an official language of the nation (around 37% of the country speaks it primarily) and is the dominant second language.

The efforts of the Spanish and Italians are also looked upon more favourably, with only 5.8% and 6.7% respectively voting for them as the countries least likely to try French.  Is it because the similarities between the Romance languages make it easier?  Or could it be something to do with the fact that, being hugely popular tourist destinations themselves, they have seen it from the other side and, as a result, consider it important to make an effort?

Russians and Brits are worst at speaking French


(3) Which country has the worst taste in food?

I think you can probably guess which way this is going to swing.

With the most commonly used nickname for us being ‘Les Rosbif,’ referring to our stubborn obsession with overcooked roast beef (nothing compared to a bouef bourguignon or entrecote, of course), it is perfectly clear what the French think of our national cuisine.

No other question was answered so decisively in our survey and the British romped to victory (or defeat) with three fifths of the votes.

Brits have the worst taste in food
Another recent survey of 14,000 respondents, carried out by Expedia across 14 countries, revealed that the Brits are also least the likely to sample local food when abroad.  The same survey also suggests that the Spanish and the Italians are the most open-minded in Europe.
Only 57% of UK adults will try unknown or local delicacies abroad.  This is shameful next to the 94% of the Spanish and Italians.

If the French are correct in their assessment of European tastes, could open-mindedness be closely correlated with good taste?


(4) From which country do the most beautiful people come?

We can take knocks to our cuisine and our inability to speak other languages. To be honest, we are probably too comfortable with these two blemishes on our national character.  This is one poll, however, that most Brits would hate to sit bottom of.

We did, however. Not far behind the poor old Belgians (who seem to be a bit of a chump in the eyes of their big brother) but it is, frankly, embarrassing how in the eyes of the French we measure up next to the Italians and Russians.

Italians are the best looking in Europe


(5) If you had to switch France’s history and culture with those of another country, which would it be?

There are undoubtedly many strings to the British bow in terms of history, culture and innovation. We have Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens; the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie.  We can offer the Industrial Revolution, the invention of most popular sports, as well as the television, the telephone and the internet.  Surely the French can see that!


Nope. First is Italy, again. Their Mediterranean boot fetish continues!

Perhaps the many military clashes between the UK and France have driven our history out of favour with the general populace.

With Spain being the runner-up it starts becoming clear that perhaps the most important thing to the French is maintaining their healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle.  It is easy to see a load of similarities between the French, Italian and Spanish ways of life. They both place much more importance on food, family time and local traditions and customs.

Perhaps we could learn something from our continental cousins?

(6) From which countries do the worst drivers come?

When Brits are asked that question, the minds of the majority would jump straight to Italy.  A 2015 poll by breakdown company, GreenFlag, shows us that 37% voted that Italians were the worst drivers in Europe. The same poll told us that the Brits feel that Italians are the most likely to break the rules of the road and have the strangest regulations in their own country.

Let’s have a quick look at the French responses.
Worst drivers in Europe

A notable disagreement between the aforementioned poll of Brits and that of the French, is that we think the Germans are the best drivers (37% of the Brits voted for this) whereas the French clearly favour the Dutch style of driving.

After looking at the actual European road fatality figures for 2015 (provided by the European Commission), it quickly becomes clear that neither country was right.

Road Deaths 2015

Out of our countries, it could be argued that in real terms it is we the British and, in particular, the Netherlands that deserve the crown for safest drivers. Both countries have a much higher population density than Germany but fewer casualties.

It seems that both the British and the French were wrong about the Italians.  In comparison to the rest of Europe (particularly the countries to the East) Italy is relatively safe.

What is most interesting is that the French voted for the Belgians being the safest drivers from our choices, when, in fact, the opposite is true.


(7) If you had to permanently live in another country other than France, which would it be?

The answers for this question, as you might expect, tie in closely with question 5.  This, again, reinforces the importance of lifestyle and culture to the French people. The sunny climes of the southern Mediterranean are calling to our cousins across the Channel.

Where would the French live?

But perhaps this is just a romantic notion rather than a practical or realistic one? While the exact figure is regularly disputed, it has often been said that with its huge diaspora (bigger than anywhere else in the world) London is France’s sixth-largest city.


(8) If you had to marry someone from another country, which country would it be?

For such a romantic nation, one would expect this to correlate relatively closely with question number (4).

Yes, again, the French love for the Mediterranean people remains strong, with Italy and Spain swaggering into first and second place respectively.

It seems the Brits have been given a little respite, however.

Perhaps it is our sense of humour (certainly something the French respect and value in the British) or our impeccable road safety, but something has upgraded the British from least attractive people to ‘fourth-most marriable.’

I’d chalk that up as a win.

Additionally, it was the youngest age bracket (18-24) who voted most strongly for marrying a Brit with the results being pulled down by their older counterparts. Perhaps there is hope for us yet!

Italians have the best style

And no surprises here.   France’s love affair with Italy continues. And this is the second-most decisive poll after the now-forever-forgotten ‘worst taste in food’ incident.

With such epicentres of fashion as Rome, Milan and Florence, it was unlikely to be any of the other countries coming out on top.

The UK shouldn’t feel too disappointed with second place, however.


(10) People from which country most appreciate French culture and history?

Finally, the UK have topped a positive poll!

English love French culture

After speaking to a number of people it is clear that we do have a fascination and appreciation of their lifestyle, food, cities and scenery. In his article ‘What do the French really think of us?’ Francophile and writer, Anthony Peregrine supports this idea, telling us that, particularly when it comes to tourists in France, the Brits are ‘modest, polite and impressed, perhaps over-impressed, by everything.’

Research suggests that there is very little bad feeling between the Spanish and French so, for now, it is uncertain why the French feel they show the least interest and appreciation for their valued culture.  Quite simply, it could be due to the proximity in both location and culture.  There could also be some national resentment in there?

Undoubtedly, our own views and opinions on the French are incredibly complex and mixed.  It would appear our continental cousins feel very similarly about us!


Survey data from July 2016
Feel free to use our visuals but please credit easyCar.
Email creative@make-it-rain.co.uk to access raw data.

5 Ways You Can Overcome Passport Gridlock This Summer

As we head into summer is it any surprise that people are going to need passports to get out and enjoy their summer holidays? But it may not be as simple to get one as you may have hoped. It is rumoured there is a build up of 500,000 applications waiting to be assessed. The below is a picture taken in what was once a meeting room of the Liverpool Passport Office.

A lot of people are saying a lot of different things, all pointing the finger anywhere other than at themselves. The PCS Union (the union that represents public sector workers) claims it is due to job cuts and office closures. Those governing the Passport Office point fingers at the improved economy as a reason for the massive backlog. An increase in disposable income will drive more people to more expensive holidays and a stronger need for passports. And in fact a record 3.3 million applications were sent in the first half of 2014.


Regardless of who or what you choose to believe, what is clear is that a lot of people’s carefully planned summer holidays may be at risk. But there are ways you can get around this and hopefully beat getting lost in the system. They are:


1. Plan ahead

This may go without saying, but it is the passport office’s stance that you should never book a holiday without a valid passport for the duration of your stay. They say, “Don’t book travel until you have a valid passport – doing so is at your own risk.”


2. Apply for the premium service

This is a pricey solution but worth it if this is your only option. The process takes one day and will knock you back £128. You will need to make an appointment with the Passport Advice Line on 0300 222 0000. The service is available in London, Liverpool, Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Newport or Peterborough.


3. Passport application lost in the system?

There are a lot of stories whirling around that applications have been lost in the system since mid-April, with one particular horror story involving a new-born baby and family stuck in the Middle East after the new-born’s British passport failed to arrive as expected. If you’re awaiting a passport to arrive with a holiday fast approaching then it may also be worth phoning the Passport Advice Line and requesting a fast-track service that will cost £103 and take a week to process.


4. Rent a car and stay in the UK

If you haven’t yet booked a holiday and are still waiting for your passport to arrive then maybe you could scrap your plans of travelling abroad and instead rent a car with easyCar or alternately sign up to the easyCar Club to hire from people in your area and opt to travel in the UK. The trend of staycationing (holidaying in the UK) is really taking off at the moment. With good reason, the UK tourism industry is in great shape at the moment with many holidaying options available for all tastes and price ranges.


5. Ignore a lot of the rumours swirling around

There is a lot of talk going on at the moment about having six months on your passport to travel internationally. If you’re traveling in Europe this is false, likewise with the USA. You can travel up to the last day of your passport’s validity. If your holiday is a bit more exotic, such as Egypt, Israel or Russia then different rules apply. You should check with the relevant embassies before travelling if in any doubt.


If all else has failed it might be worth getting in touch with your local MP. They may not be directly able to sort out your passport but will be able to apply political pressure on the respective governmental departments. For information on contacting your local MP take a look at the Government’s website.

Our top 10 DIY and gardening-project ideas for you to try this May Bank Holiday

May Bank Holiday is the time of year when most people do DIY work and odd jobs around the house. Here is a list of simple DIY and gardening tricks that will save time, money and energy in various different ways around the house. See how many you can squeeze in over the coming Bank-Holiday weekend!

Add height and layers to your garden

This can be done in a few different ways. Placing plants and shrubs that grow taller behind those that hug the floor is a good start. You could also try buying some raised plinths or small trees to add even greater depth. Training climbing plants, such as ivy, along a trellis attached to perimeter fences gives the appearance of being hemmed in by nature and adds a little privacy to your garden. Most large garden centres will sell these things so swing by early on Saturday morning, ready to get to work over the weekend.

Plant a window herb garden

Cooking with fresh herbs can be wasteful. The amount needed never seems to match up with what’s on display at the market and you’re often left with an unwelcome mess at the bottom of your salad drawer. A window herb garden not only freshens up your kitchen but also avoids all that waste. There’s nothing like the fragrant aroma of Basil in the morning! Construction tips can be found here.

Erect a shed in your garden

A shed is a gardener’s best friend. They are a place to leave your tools, coax young plants into maturity and get away from the rush of the real world. They are very reasonably priced and serve as a great retreat. What better way to spend your bank holiday than building a private sanctuary, cut off from the daily rush? These can be bought at most good garden centres and home stores. By hiring a van you can make sure you have a vehicle big enough to get it home.

Create a workspace

So many people find their creative output hampered by a lack of workspace; and who really has the room for a bulky desk? Building a work surface into the wall saves space and provides an effective yet minimal area to hammer out work and ideas. Also, it will nearly always work out at a fraction of the cost of a normal desk. For some inspiration, check here.

Install blackout shades

Not much improves the quality of your life more than better sleep. A dark bedroom is essential for healthy sleep and melanin production. Installing blackout shades eliminates the glow of the outside world that can disturb your rest.

Build a raised bed garden

This will save you money and a few trips to the produce section in your local supermarket. Use a few sturdy boards to form a wall or shelf before dumping in a bag of topsoil – simple! You will be amazed at how productive a small space can be. Go for seasonal veg for best results and potatoes are particularly space efficient.

Build a pond

There are a few ways you can go about building a pond. You could go the whole hog, and dig a ditch in the garden and buy a pre-made ground layer. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do that, don’t panic! Water features of any size look great. Buying a big garden pot, plugging the base and adding some rocks and pebbles at the bottom will be sure to create a water feature that will be alive with activity next spring. Our top tip is to try and get rocks that are a mixture of sizes. It makes the decoration more magical and charming. For some top tips on how to do this, read here.

Invisible bookshelves

Dusting and vacuuming around bookshelves takes time. Save yourself some hassle and add style to your flat by mounting a steel bookend to the wall and making your library appear to hang there weightless. It’s a seriously cool effect!

Double the storage space in your kitchen

A pokey, small kitchen can be quite an obstacle to a laid-back lunch, especially if you have a bulging collection of pots and pans. There is, however, a pretty easy workaround. Drop by Ikea and buy a pegboard, paint it a complimentary colour to your kitchen and attach some hooks. You can then hang your pots and pans from the wall and free up some prime cupboard real estate in the process. See how it is done here.

Build a hammock stand

There’s nothing like taking a nap in a hammock on a sunny afternoon, but trees have a bad habit of spacing themselves inconveniently. Never fear! Building a hammock stand is a simple project that can result in hours of relaxation after your DIY day is done. Perhaps you should attempt this one first! Learn more here.

While many find DIY and home improvement quite therapeutic, there are others who become stressed and frantic and end up wishing they were anywhere but next to the poorly constructed bookshelves, surrounded by bent nails.

To help you cope this weekend and manage your time and resources better, why not hire a van for a couple of days? A suitable vehicle is perhaps the most useful tool for a weekend of DIY or gardening. Whether popping down to Ikea, collecting materials and tools or simply moving furniture, access to a van really will help your home-improvement session run smoothly. Unconvinced? Have a scroll through our rental page and see what’s available near you. You won’t be disappointed!

Have any great DIY tips or challenges to share? We would love to hear them in the comment section below.