Baguette and Birkenstock: German-French clichés persist – even in couple relationships

The food, of course the food.

Baguette and Birkenstock: German-French clichés persist – even in couple relationships

The food, of course the food. "There always has to be a baguette with the meal. And then it's not even eaten, but crumbled next to the plate," says Verena von Derschau, who was born in Germany and has been married to a Frenchman for years. François Dumas, a Parisian who has been living with a German woman for a long time, groans at the thought of traditional German dishes: "Maultaschen! Dumplings! I can't do anything with them."

Shortly before the 60th anniversary of the Franco-German friendship treaty on January 22, an unofficial survey of a small group revealed that even years later, Franco-German couples are still angry about characteristics that they consider typical of their partner's nationality. Many of these relate to food intake. "German food lacks lightness," laments Roland, a Frenchman married to a German. "They still have trouble getting rid of cabbage and potatoes." He scoffs at the "typically German" way of serving food in restaurants, often with a lettuce leaf and a piece of tomato as a garnish. "It doesn't even have vinaigrette on it, what's the point?"

Julika Herzog, the wife of François Dumas from Bavaria, finds eating at parties particularly strenuous. "I don't like French weddings. There's only an aperitif until 10 p.m., then you're already drunk because you haven't eaten anything proper and you've drunk a lot of champagne. At 1 a.m. there's finally dessert, and then you're supposed to be dancing." , she describes a "typically French" celebration.

When it comes to clothing, too, many clichés persist. There are now Birkenstock stores in the chic Parisian Marais, but the sandals with footbeds still stand for "typically German" comfortable clothing. "The Germans dress horribly, the main thing is that they are comfortable. You see that dreadful wolf paw everywhere," says Roland, who declined to give his last name, alluding to a well-known outdoor brand. "But you have Lagerfeld and Schiffer. But it always looks like sportswear or rainwear," he says with a laugh.

His husband Achim, for his part, complains that there is still a certain tendency towards bribery in France. "If something doesn't work in the administration, then you just take the semi-legal route," he says. When he couldn't get a dentist appointment in the middle of August, he had no choice but to contact his brother-in-law, he says. "Then he called someone he knew. That's how it is here, you have to belong to make it work."

When German-French couples have children, the differences really become apparent. "There are no Easter bunnies, but bells," explains Verena von Derschau. "And no lantern procession to St. Martin and no St. Nicholas boots - but we always did it anyway," she says. In the meantime, she has also gotten used to the fact that the Christmas trees are set up at the beginning of December. "Typically French", colorful flashing lighting, however, does not get to the tree.

The children's timetable also varies greatly depending on the country. "I always feel sorry for the children because they have such incredibly long days," says Julika Herzog. "They hardly have time to just play at home." When the family is on vacation in Germany, things get on her husband's nerves: "In Germany you often can't pay by card," says François Dumas. Also, the trains are always late. In addition, people went naked into the sauna - that was "shocking". "And finally you have to watch Tatort on Sunday evenings, such a mediocre, boring series. I've never understood that," he adds with a clear horror in his voice.