Eric D. Snider

Yes We Cannes!

Snide Remarks #665

"Yes We Cannes!"

by Eric D. Snider

Published on May 29, 2012

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Bonjour! (This concludes the foreign-language portion of this column.) It was recently my great fortune to attend the Cannes Film Festival, which is currently held in the quaint seaside village of Cannes, located in a country known as “France.” I had never been to France before, and indeed have only barely been to France now, as Cannes is located in the far southeastern corner of the country, perilously close to Italy. The people of Cannes are probably always complaining about the steady stream of Italians sneaking across their border and taking their cheese-factory jobs.

Cannes is a beautiful city on the French Riviera with a population of 70,000 Celsius and an average summertime temperature of 72 Euros. Being a resort town, it is home to a lot of affluent people, as well as non-affluent people who wish to appear affluent by wearing skinny gold bracelets and being tan. The local economy is centered on tourism, pastries, and reminding people that the Cannes Film Festival is held there. The city adds to its glamor by enforcing a strict “no fat chicks” policy.

Not having been to France before, I had certain preconceived notions about what the country would be like. I expected everyone to be dressed like mimes and wearing berets and smoking cigarettes and carrying grocery bags with long baguettes sticking out of the top of them. I expected Frenchmen to pop out of bakery windows singing “Bonjour!” as I walked past, like at the beginning of “Beauty and the Beast.” All of these things proved to be true.

But I also saw things I did not expect to see. For example, I saw numerous young men wearing polo shirts with popped collars and reeking of cologne. Douchebags, in other words. Their sheer numbers surprised me, for I had always assumed that nothing could be douchier than an American college campus. It made sense when I remembered that France literally invented douchebags.

Another thing I saw a lot of in Cannes that I did not expect to see much of at all is dog crap. It’s not that there are more dogs per capita in Cannes than in other places, nor do the dogs in Cannes defecate at a higher rate than dogs elsewhere. It’s just that when French people’s dogs make poop on the sidewalk, they don’t clean it up. They just leave it there. I didn’t see as much on the busy thoroughfares in the heart of Cannes, but up in the neighborhoods? Sacrebleu, it is everywhere! One pile per block, minimum. You’d just be strolling along, taking in the beautiful sights of centuries-old architecture, and whoops, there is the excrement from a dog. Usually it’s smeared from where someone else has already stepped in it, but occasionally you encounter a fresh pile, undisturbed by man; pristine. The city of Paris is also renowned for its overabundance of poop, so let’s go ahead and assume it applies to all of France.

The most ignored sign in Cannes.

Why don’t the French clean up after their dogs? Scientists have several theories.

- The French believe that their dogs’ poop, being French, is inherently beautiful and worthy of admiration.

- The French figure that since their country is two thousand years old, they might as well quit trying to keep it looking nice.

- The French are filthy savages who do not understand the fundamentals of hygiene and sanitation.

- The French are far too dignified to pick up their pets’ excretions, and prefer to slide around in it.

- The French automatically do the opposite of whatever the English do, and the English clean up after their dogs.

- The French simply love poop. Can’t get enough of it! The only thing that stops the French from pooping on the sidewalk right next to their dogs is that they are embarrassed to let strangers see their grotesque, malformed French genitals.

A third thing I saw a lot of is chest hair. The men of that region consider it distasteful to use their top three shirt buttons, and they do not wear undershirts, and so everywhere you look there is chest hair billowing in the breeze like amber waves of grain. You might have thought that French guys aren’t masculine enough to have hairy chests, but come on, let’s not indulge in stereotypes.

Stumble It!

This item has 20 comments

  1. Susan says:

    And the correct answer is: C.

  2. Dave says:

    Huh, "Grotesque, Malformed French Genitals" was the name of my band in college.

  3. Tricia says:

    Pardon me, but do you have any grey poop on?


  4. Niall says:

    Affluent places in Western Europe (like Munich and Cannes) are really hipster these days. I find it near-unbearable in Munich.

    Chest hair is guy cleavage - if you've got it, flaunt it. What's the point in having an asset and hiding it away?

  5. Heli says:

    I recently got the opportunity to go to Nice, France, which is just down the road from Cannes. It was also my first trip to France, and I can verify that everything Eric wrote is true. He forgot to specify that all the dogs are French Poodles, though.

    (Full disclosure; I don't recall seeing any douchebags in Nice, but they're probably scared of being perceived as "Nice guys.")

  6. Dave says:

    Merde! That was funny.

  7. Ryan says:

    I know you saw it too...

  8. aaron says:

    While the sample size is small, it is absolutely representative of the rest of France. Dog poop on every block in every city.

    I've seen people "sliding around in it" all over eastern France and Paris. It's not pleasant.

  9. Jacob says:

    Ah, la France. It's fascinating how similar France is from top to bottom. Though the cheese may smell different from city to city, France never changes. Back in 2003 when I was there, popped collars were also a thing, as was urinating in the street and lotion ads featuring a bevy of topless ladies. I only once stepped in dog feces the whole time I was there, and I consider that an accomplishment (was there for two years). I did, after much lamentation, discover the French Drinking Fountain: actual fountains with a sign declaring "eau potable." Just crane your neck as awkwardly as possible, and have a sip! Either that or carry an empty water bottle. I also learned its totally cool to eat an entire baguette with cheese and call it a meal, as well as making your breakfast consist of a pain au chocolat aux amandes and a bottle of Oasis. Never gained a pound, either.

    Man, I love that country.

  10. Jack B Nimble says:

    McDonald's is an oasis to the wayward traveler in Europe. It is a place where you can get the following for free:

    1. Clean bathrooms
    2. Water
    3. Ice in your beverage
    4. Customer service

    All of these are as foreign to Europeans as American apple pie.

  11. unnamed source says:

    The French have a propensity for cultivating body hair and allowing it to be proudly displayed. Usually to a greater degree than US women.

  12. Neil says:

    Wait a minute. When did chest hair become cool again? I thought that died with the 60s. And here I've been wearing undershirts that are a wee bit tight just to ensure that the neck helps cover the beard to chest division line when I could have been flashing my manly manliness.

    Oh wait, this is France we're talking about. Back to hiding my shame.

  13. Greg says:

    As a Mormon missionary walking the streets of Southern France, I had to learn very quickly to keep an eye on the ground at *all* times lest you wish to acquire stink-foot for the rest of the day.

  14. Mark says:

    Eric: Well written, but you forgot to tell us about your social intercourse with the natives. Did they appreciate your French? If you chatted with people here and there, what did you discuss? Did they genuinely welcome you? Or treat you as just another foreigner intruding for the film festival? Treated any differently in the countryside? Were the women friendly? good looking? Did little kids approach you and ask to shine your shoes (as from Mexico to Chile)? Did the natives nod and smile at you as you walked by, or did they just look the other way? Good ice cream? Did your fellow movie devotees enjoy their stay?

  15. Phil Cardenas says:

    Excellent article--yes, Jacob, you're right--strangely you can eat whatever you want in that country and still freakishly lose weight...I did the pain au chocolat and baguette diet too ('cuz like dog poop, those foods are lying around everywhere too).

    Eric, very funny article. France is wonderful--you should check out Paris or Normandy--it is exactly how you envision it, though their has been a mime strike in Northern France and mime sightings have been down recently.

  16. Chelsea says:

    I don't know about Cannes, but Paris is absolutely covered with graffiti and cigarette butts. I don't know how the citizens of Paris are still alive and breathing with those black lungs of theirs. Maybe out of spite. Who knows?

  17. Coralie says:

    I really enjoy reading your film reviews and have just started to read this section of your website.
    I was quite excited to have an idea of what you would have thought about France when I saw the title of this article.
    As you might have guessed looking at my name, I am French.
    I have been living in the UK for quite a few years now so that is probably why I am kind of disappointed with this article.
    Living abroad definitely taught me to be open minded and to accept differences among countries and cultures and always try to find something positive when I think of something different as negative.
    I felt quite sad reading your article, because you are painting a negative portrait of my native country, which could be fair enough, but how long did you exactly spend there? For a first trip to France I think your choice, Cannes, during the Festival is a bit of a mistake as it certainly do not represent the country I lived in for more than 20 years. I don't think of Cannes as an authentic French city during the festival.

    I do hope you will enjoy more your next trip to this country and maybe travel there for vacations in an area that is less famous.
    I also hope you understand that this message is absolutely not written with anger, just a bit of sadness at the thought that you couldn't mention or recall any positive experience you had during this trip.

  18. Kenny says:

    Hi Eric

    Just wanted to say that France is the most visited country in the world and has the third largest income from tourism..... so they must be getting something right, try looking up from the floor next time.

  19. Simon says:

    Hi Eric,

    I normally enjoy your columns, but this one sacrificed wit and intelligence, opting instead for small-minded xenophobic stereo-types. Would a similar column portraying ALL Americans as hamburger-stuffing, gun-toting, loud-mouthed ignoramuses be acceptable? Of course not and rightly so.

    Might I suggest you try broadening your horizons a little more, or just stick to reporting on parochial matters.

    As Kenny above me states, France gets more tourists than anyone else, including the USA.

    You might want to wonder why.

    Kind regards,

    An Englishman who loves France and the French.

  20. Wayne says:

    Simon and Coralie -

    In his movie podcast, Eric speaks very highly of his experience at Cannes. But the column is called "Snide Remarks!" Eric has taken a shot at everything from your mom to your mom's mom. Sarcasm and snark -- that's what I want from my Snide Remarks.

    Keep bringing the heat, Eric.

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