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Why is there this idea that French people smell bad? The difference in that respect between the Tube (where I regularly had to be near smelly people) and the Paris metro (almost never) is staggering.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 06:30:05 PM EST
I think it is not about the French smelling worse than the English, but about Europeans smelling worse than Americans, and that it has its origin in Americans' abuse of deodorant, whether people usually take their daily bath or shower in the morning or evening, and the fact that Europe is 3 times as crowded as the US so Americans are 3 times less able to smell each other than they are to smell foreigners when they are abroad.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 06:35:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am just working with a sauna-making company. so any feedback will be used for commercial advantage ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 06:44:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I miss saunas, and diving into the cold lake afterwards.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 07:11:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bring the family next summer ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 07:20:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has a much more specific reason, I read. I read it originated at the end of WWII, when US GIs travelled around France and in Paris, and had their only real experience of people who lived under occupation for years. For, soap was rationed, with the German Army carting off production for itself; to boot, many people couldn't buy many new clothes and water for washing was also constrained.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 06:45:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, when I was in the US I encountered the prejudice that Europeans (or just foreigners) smell, and also the specific factors I list. Bodily odour, whether it is pungent/offensive or not, has been banished from the American "standard".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 07:09:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely buy your morning/evening shower argument and I'd add that the social pressure to smell "nice" begins in middle school and is so intense that you have to be Brad Pitt to dare to smell bad. But living in a city that is a lot more densely packed than most European locales, I can't agree with your "3X the nose distance" theory. Except for the homeless (and every once in a while, a recently immigrated cab-driver), New Yorkers almost never smell. And this is a city where a huge proportion of the population is foreign-born!
by Matt in NYC on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 04:41:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pheromones, J, Pheromones...there is a difference between soiled bodies and sexual signals. The former is offensive, the latter is oooh la la.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 06:55:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ok, basta!

you are taking this 'french victimisation' too far, jerome.

what's next, prejudices against gauloises and berets?

i'm sure you can dig some up and whine about them, too...

you're right, you're right, maybe we should model the planet on french civilisation, then this constant french-bashing is BOUND to stop!

once we all passed the soignee test, we will realise the full gloire of savoir-faire, nuance and eclat, not to mention the all-important je-ne-sais-quoi!

it's really that we're all jealous we didn't invent crepes with grand marnier, f--- the lemon juice...

snarkarola

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 11:49:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first time I took my overly evolved American nostrils to Europe, I braced myself for gagging smells in Paris in particular (that's just someghitn all Americans are raised to expect).  Well, on that trip and half a dozen subsequent ones, I have yet to have an upleasant olfactory experience in Paris.

But actually I don't think London is that bad -- not compared to Scandinavia and Germany. Those are the countries where, imho, being in a confined space is pure Nose Purgatory. (And really, this is not criticism, but rather a recognition that Americans, with our mandatory morning showers and full-body deodorants, are the odd ones out.)

by Matt in NYC on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 04:26:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny, I don't remember either Germany or Scandinavia as land of smelly people.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:34:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, to the American mind, Germany and Scandinavia are "the Land of the Women with unshaved armpits", too. Who knows?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 03:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aha!

The classic joke

Q. How can you tell the German plane at the airport?

A. It's the one with hair under the wings....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 07:08:21 PM EST
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