Habits of French people that annoy Britons - according to French media

Do you agree with these tips on ‘how not to irritate the British’?

Poor escalator and travel pass etiquette, and complaining about the weather and beer, are some of the habits people are advised to avoid in Britain
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Queue-jumping, being too tactile, and complaining about the weather: These are just some of the habits of French people that annoy Britons, according to a list by French newspaper Le Figaro. Do you agree?

The newspaper listed seven behaviours that annoy British people (although some are very London or city-centric, it has to be said).


“Here [the UK], queues have a sort of divinity,” the newspaper writes, not without reason. Queue-jumping, or cutting in line, is indeed a fast way to make enemies in the UK.

This is true whether you are in line to pay, getting on a train, or waiting at a bus stop. Queue etiquette, such as remembering who was ‘in front of you’ and making sure they are served first - even if they are physically behind you - is seen as the height of politeness.

Being too ‘tactile’

“The British are not very effusive, they don't hug as easily as Americans, and they're uncomfortable if you get too close,” says Le Figaro, when explaining how to behave.

“A simple ‘thank you very much’ will suffice,” it says, referring to how to react to kind actions, adding that Londoners can also be suspicious of making eye contact with people they do not know.

While this detail is perhaps particularly London-centric (especially among commuters on the London Underground or ‘tube’) - and people in other cities may take pride in being much chattier than miserable Londoners - few Britons would disagree that as a nation, they are definitely quieter and less emotional than Americans and southern Europeans.

This is likely to please some French people, however, as France is not the ‘huggiest’ of nations (kissing on cheeks notwithstanding).

Read also: La politesse: what habits can make you seem rude to French people?

Criticising the weather

Ah, the weather. An article on British behaviour would not be complete without it, and it is true that Brits rarely say hello without a cursory mention of the skies. And yet, Le Figaro states that this is different to ‘complaining’ about the weather.

“Stop lamenting,” it writes. “They don’t like that.” Instead, make a simple comment, it recommends, offering the phrases: “It's pouring down”, and even the more familiar “it's p*ssing it down” for times when only the more extreme description will do.

Mentioning the beer temperature

Fear not, Le Figaro states that ‘warm beer’ in the UK is actually a myth that dates back to World War Two, when American GIs looking for lager (usually served very cold) were shocked to receive a British ‘cask ale’ served at its traditional 10-12C.

Thankfully, it states, if you order a beer in the UK now, it will typically be served at a more respectable 4-8C (although it still depends on the type of beer). Cheers!

Standing in the middle of the street

“Wow, you've never seen Big Ben before! But Londoners have, and they're in a hurry!” advises Le Figaro, as it warns people not to stand in the middle of the road.

Another London-centric suggestion, perhaps, but it’s true that ‘getting in the way’ anywhere in the UK will likely land you a choice comment or two. 

Tourists who block a busy street, or who stop suddenly to get a selfie with Big Ben or Tower Bridge, will almost certainly face short shrift from grumpy commuters and locals.

Waiting until the last minute to find your travel pass

Whether you’re boarding a bus or entering the Underground, tourists are warned to have their travel pass (or contactless card) ready in advance, to avoid the faux pas of blocking the barrier or bus door. At busy times, a huge - and angry - queue will form fast.

“The lack of foresight irritates the British,” Le Figaro writes.

Another capital city tip, perhaps, but it’s certainly true that nothing prompts a grumble from a Londoner like a tourist fumbling for their pass just before entering. 

Being on the wrong side of the escalators

Le Figaro has definitely understood Londoners when it comes to the public transport system. Put simply, the rule is: Do not get in the way! 

“There's nothing more annoying than someone blocking the escalator,” it states. In London, the “rules are simple”, it says. “Walk on the left and stand on the right.” 

This rule could be slightly confusing to visitors, especially as other cities - both across the UK and worldwide - do not always have the same system (some countries and cities even have the opposite rule). 

However, Le Figaro is correct: standing on the wrong side of the escalator at rush hour will likely win you a large queue building up, a sharp “excuse me!” demand, or - the absolutely scathing height of British judgement - a rather loud ‘tut’.

You can read the Le Figaro article at this link.

Would you add any other habits to the list when it comes to visiting London and the rest of the UK? Or are you more concerned with the faux pas of Britons living in or visiting France…? Share your feedback via news@connexionfrance.com.