As France rejoins NATO, a humorous reminder of why we never missed
By Marcus Dunk
With typical flamboyance and fanfare, French President Nicolas
Sarkozy this week announced that France is to rejoin Nato’s military
command after 40 years of self-imposed exile.
It was in 1966 that President Charles de Gaulle pulled out of the
heart of the Nato alliance, claiming that belonging to the Nato
military command undermined French independence and sovereignty.
Yet while its allies in the alliance have publicly welcomed this
return to the fold, a fundamental question seems to have been
ignored: do we actually want the French back?
Since World War II, the French and its army have been seen by many
as standard-bearers for surrender, cowardice and military
But at least they’ve made us laugh. Here’s a selection of
morale-boosting jokes and quips about the people so memorably
described in The Simpsons TV series as the cheese-eating surrender
What do you call 100,000 Frenchmen with their hands up?
How can you recognise a French veteran?
Why are there so many tree-lined boulevards in France?
Germans like to march in the shade.
Why did it take Germany three days to conquer France in World War
Because it was raining.
Why did the French give America the Statue of Liberty?
Because she has only one arm raised.
Why do the French get more votes in the U.N.?
They vote with both hands.
Why is the French fighter plane called the Mirage?
It doesn’t exist.
Why don’t they have fireworks at Euro Disney?
Because every time they shoot them off, the French try to surrender.
What does ‘Maginot’ mean in German?
Why is the French Foreign Legion the only decent fighting force in
the whole French Army?
Because it’s made up of foreigners.
What does the new French flag look like?
A white cross emblazoned on a white background.
What’s the shortest book ever written?
French War Heroes.
What is the first thing the French Army teaches at basic training?
How to surrender in at least ten languages.
What is the most useful thing in the French Army?
A rear-view mirror, so they can see the war.
Why does Nike like the French Army?
Because in wartime they are the biggest buyers of running shoes.
Why did the French celebrate their World Cup in 1998 so wildly?
It was their first time they won anything without outside help.
Why do the French have glass bottom boats in their Navy?
To see all their other ships.
What did the mayor of Paris say to the German army as they entered
the city in World War II?
‘Table for 100,000, monsieur?’
Why are the French afraid of war?
You would be, too, if you had never won one.
How do you stop a French army on horseback?
Turn off the carousel.
Did you hear about the French admiral who wanted to be buried at sea
when he died?
Five sailors died digging his grave.
What’s the best thing about being French?
You can surrender at the beginning of the war and somebody else will
win it for you.
‘I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French
one behind me.’
General George S. Patton.
How do the French advertise surplus World War II rifles for sale?
‘Never fired, only dropped once.’
And a few more jokes…
The French government announced after the London bombings that it
had raised its terror alert level from Run to Hide.
The only two higher levels in France are Surrender and Collaborate.
The rise in the alert level was precipitated by a recent fire which
destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively disabling its
A long time ago, the British and French were at war. During one
battle, the French captured an English major. They took the major to
their headquarters and a French general began to question him.
The French general asked: ‘Why do you English officers all wear red
coats? Don’t you know the red material makes you easy targets for us
In his debonair English way, the major informed the general that the
reason English officers wear red coats is so that if they are shot,
the blood won’t show, and the men they are leading won’t panic.
And that is why from that day to now, all French army officers wear
An officer in the U.S. Naval reserve was attending a conference of
officers from the U.S. navy and the French navy. At a cocktail
reception, he found himself in a small group that included personnel
from both navies.
A French admiral started complaining that whereas Europeans learned
many languages, Americans learned only English. He then asked: ‘Why
is it that we have to speak English at these conferences rather than
speak French?’ Without hesitating, an American admiral replied:
‘Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans
arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.’
In 1966, upon being told that Charles de Gaulle had taken France out
of NATO and that all U.S. troops must be evacuated from French soil,
President Lyndon Johnson told Secretary of State Dean Rusk: ‘Ask him
about the cemeteries, Dean!’
So, at end of the meeting, Dean asked de Gaulle if his order to
remove all U.S. troops from French soil also included the 60,000
plus soldiers buried in France from World War I and World War II. De
Gaulle never answered.