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French backpackers told to get a grip

Consul-general rips into rowdy, drunken countrymen known for shoplifting – or French-shopping

ROWDY French backpackers have been told to improve their behaviour by their consul-general in Australia after protests when one drunken youth clambered over the Cenotaph in Sydney and damaged it.

In an open letter to the 22,000 French young people living and working in Australia, consul-general Eric Berti warned them that their rowdy, drunken, and illegal shenanigans were harming France’s reputation Down Under, as well as their own integration into the country.

He was responding to complaints of bad behaviour and several reports of shoplifting – with locals in some cities saying it was so common they call it “French shopping”.

“The Consulate General's attention has been drawn to the bad reputation of young French tourists in some areas of Australia, in relation to the incivilities of some French backpackers (noisy behaviour, alcoholism, disrespect for the police and authorities) and shoplifting,” reads an excerpt, translated from French.

"Even if they remain isolated incidents, these behaviours can affect the entire French community in Australia. They can also hamper young working holiday visa holders in their hunt for a job."

Berti said young French people should challenge fellow nationals on behaviour that failed to align with the values of a country where “honesty and the respect of values and authorities are of primordial importance”.

Earlier this year, a 21-year-old Frenchman was ordered to pay €1,070 in fines and repairs after damaging the Cenotaph in Sydney’s Martin Place. Police described him as a “disrespectful knucklehead”.

The French action comes after last week’s move by the Chinese government when it drew up a list of dos and don’ts for citizens abroad: including no loud talking, spitting, crossing streets recklessly, or vandalising important monuments.

It came after a 15-year-old Chinese youth defaced Egypt’s Luxor temple by carving the words “Ding Minhao was here,” in Mandarin.

However, the French are not the world’s worst tourists: a recent Triposo survey named Americans No1 for boorish, rude behaviour, followed by British, Russians, the Chinese and Australians.
Photo: © Robert Ranson/

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