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Five things they do not tell you about arguing in France

We explore how to argue, complain and get angry like a French person

Expressing and defending your opinions is a national sport in France Pic: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

1. Les opinions

In social situations, although subjects such as money are taboo, lots of other tricky topics are OK: politics and religion are absolutely up for grabs. 

You are allowed to put your views on the table and defend them like a Dobermann guarding a bank. 

Just do it with wit and good humour. 

Si j’en crois!  

Read more: I read the 5,000-page compendium that tries to explain France

2. Les plaintes

French people love to complain. 

Râler is the next most popular sport after football and fishing, and it is fine to admire this quality in people. 

The French like to remind each other that even their own politicians say they are ungovernable. 

So whatever proposal is made, you know what to say... 

Non, non et non!

Read more: France, a nation of complainers? Yes, but it’s a good thing

3. Le caractère

Having du caractère is a good thing. 

It means you are ready to fight your corner, stand up for your beliefs and express your opinions. 

So if someone ever remarks that you have it, even if you suspect they are trying to put you down, just beam with pride. 

Bien sûr!

4. La lutte

Any time you get involved in a protracted argument with someone, particularly if it is the local mairie, it becomes une lutte – a struggle. 

The word has connotations of freedom and fairness and revolution – even if the contentious subject is the installation of new swings in the playground. 

On lâche rien!  

5. La colère

If your lutte does not go the way you wanted, then you can declare yourself en colère and possibly even organise a pétition, manif (protest) or grève (strike). 

At this event, you will ram your message home by carrying a large sign adorned with the words en colère, or even tous en colère

C’est légitime!

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