News / Europe

France's New Passion: All Things Chinese

France's New Passion: All Things Chinesei
|| 0:00:00
X
Lisa Bryant
August 06, 2012 5:31 PM
Not so long ago, Americans and Japanese tourists were the big spenders in France. No longer. During these summer months, France's tourism industry is courting new clients with major purchasing power: Chinese. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports that now the French are heading back to the classroom... to learn Chinese.

France's New Passion: All Things Chinese

Lisa Bryant
PARIS — Not so long ago, Americans and Japanese tourists were the major spenders in France. During these summer months, France's tourism industry now is courting additional clients with major purchasing power: the Chinese. For some French, that means going back to the classroom to study Mandarin.

Teacher Meifen Chen swears it is easy to learn Mandarin, the official language of the Chinese mainland. Maybe she is right, though it is daunting to watch her jot down the characters on a flip chart.
 
One of her students is a journalist. Another is just curious about China. The third, Julie, a business-owner who did not want her last name published, travels frequently to China. She said she is studying Mandarin to make sure she strikes good deals.

"But otherwise I just want to understand the culture. Because I go there really often," she said. "Because I want to understand... to try to help myself, to take a taxi or coffee."

The French are not just doing business in China. Chinese business is coming to France. Today, about half-a-million Chinese visit France every year. Tour operators predict that number may reach two million or more by 2020.

With incomes rising in China, middle-class Chinese can now afford to go abroad. English teacher Chester [his Western name] poses for pictures near the Louvre museum with a group of colleagues. He is enjoying Paris ... in a language he understands.

"We see some signs in Chinese everywhere. In shops, in restaurants. We went to some palaces and we saw Chinese everywhere, I'm afraid."

Chinese are not only flocking to cultural attractions, but also to French clothing and perfume stores. Even those on a budget, like university student Wang Yi.

"I am going to the Champs Elysee to have a look if there is anything I might be interested in.  The makeup, things for women," said Wang.

The Chinese are France's biggest foreign shoppers, accounting for one quarter of all duty-free business, according to shopping group Global Blue. Some major stores are responding by hiring Chinese-speaking staff. And last year, France's Le Figaro media group launched a luxury magazine targeting Chinese shoppers.

Interest in the Chinese language also is growing. Roughly 30,000 French school students now study Mandarin, making it more popular than Russian and Portuguese. Some French business schools make learning Mandarin mandatory.

Chinese also are snapping up French vineyards and expensive wines. At specialty wine store De Vinis Illustribus in Paris' Latin Quarter, owner Dominique Michelin showed off some of his rarest bottles. One young Chinese client recently bought one - priced at more than $10,000.

Michelin said that many Chinese buy expensive wines to give as presents, especially during the Chinese New Year. He said they buy the big French wines because they've heard they are luxury items.

Michelin hasn't learned Mandarin - he uses interpreters. But, he has learned something about Chinese customs.

He said Chinese will stay away from wine bottles dated 1968, because they believe that combination of numbers brings bad luck. But they will buy bottles from 1958… or 1978.

Other French want to delve more deeply into the Chinese culture by learning Mandarin. Roughly 30,000 French school students now study the language, making it more popular than Russian and Portuguese. Some French business schools make Mandarin classes mandatory.

Chen said the interest is immense because China is now a leading economic power. The French business and tourism industries realize learning Mandarin is vital. She said speaking the language also helps Westerners seal friendships more easily with Chinese.

Chen said her classes are not all hard work. She said every one of her students becomes passionate about the Chinese language,  without exception.

You May Like

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Indochine from: Etats Unis
August 10, 2012 6:18 AM
French people does a smart move for business! American chauvinism is stupid!


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 07, 2012 7:55 AM
What a trap! How cheap europeans can be! I see these people can be captured so easily. How I wish the rats and mice in my house behave like them! It would have been very easy to eliminate all of them in a short time. But those rats are very resilient and intelligent, they are wary of everything: they even avoid foods these days as a precaution to avoid poisons. But I know that China is poison, unless it is not the same thing out there as it is in Africa where every imaginable fake product is imported in the name of cheap products that end up being far much costlier than reasonable.

In Response

by: ali from: uk
August 15, 2012 11:31 AM
why i'm i not suprised ignorant uneducated americans have a backword views about china. the average chinese earns five tims less than the average american but yet the chinese travel the world in order to understant other peoples culture and way of living. the time i checked a survey it showe less than 20% of americans have a passpord more than 70% or so have never left where they were porn.so i guess we should not be suprised to see so many naive americans to have a backword views about anything.

In Response

by: Anonymous
August 10, 2012 11:22 AM
Don't confuse the Chinese with the "Chinese" Communist Party. It is a disease, and an insult to the Chinese nation, which has a glorious civilization of 5000 years until the last century. It has been poisoned by communism and the country only has money because of the sheer numbers of underpaid/slave laborers that die for that regime and that is why any Chinese person with money is trying to get out fast. And now France wants a piece of that action. Don't follow the rest of the deluded west into that trap. Godwin is right. You will only become a regretful accomplice to the destruction of world morality and peace.

In Response

by: be polite from: China
August 08, 2012 12:32 AM
Please be polite. I respect your opinion so please respect Chinese.


by: pierre corso from: new caledonia
August 06, 2012 11:23 PM
it's all about power and money. Earlier decades , France and other western countries used to be particularly interested in japanese when Japan was on the peak of world economic position and Japanese tourists were everywhere around the world ; what language will be the next ?


by: CK from: Viet Nam
August 06, 2012 10:43 PM
It is the time of China. And we think it is all right to let a new power to lead the world economy instead of increasing the fear of the Chinese threat theory.

In Response

by: Julia from: Sweden
August 09, 2012 8:47 AM
China is the most poisonous fume in the air. Wake up, poor fellow CK!

In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
August 07, 2012 2:48 PM
CK is not from Vietnam but Chinese. The Chinese threat is real. Read the book 'Death by China'.


by: Anonymous
August 06, 2012 6:02 PM
Too bad for French who have to learn RED chinese for living. Out of control animal who invaded Tibet, Mongolia; and dared claiming sea, islands theirs. French - Communist china likes disease, a spreading virus must be contained, destroyed before it too late.


by: Godfrey from: USA
August 06, 2012 2:58 PM
Pity the United States does not embrace the rising power of the Chinese. Americans should likewise begin to offer cultural programs and instruction in Mandarin at schools/universities.

In Response

by: stella lee from: CHINA
August 12, 2012 12:07 AM
China is not threat!!!kill the monster in you these fellow‘s heart!you are just jealous about chinese rapid development.

In Response

by: Godfrey from: USA
August 08, 2012 8:15 AM
I said that AMERICANS should offer educational programs, not the Chinese. I'm quite familiar with the Confucius institutes, which in my opinion do not affect public opinion at all anyway.

As for your comment about China being "the biggest threat to world peace," last time I checked it was the United States that was fighting overseas wars. It is also the American threat of nuclear war in the Middle East that likewise proves their disregard for humanity.

In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
August 07, 2012 2:45 PM
It is called Confuscius institute in some Universities across North America for Chinese communist propaganda.
The French are weak. The world is beginnining to wake up to the biggest threat to world peace and humanity from this totatarian Communist country, China.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid