When most of us think of France, we immediately have this picture perfect image in mind of a country that seems to have stood still since God knows when. Movies like ‘Chocolat’, Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Dispatch’ and of course the Netflix series ‘Emily in Paris’ certainly add to that illusion. France is beautiful, the French are charming and all’s well with the world. But is it? Well, reality is a bit more complex, on all fronts. France does indeed have a lot of ugliness, the French can be pretty unwelcoming and not all’s well with the world. After all, it’s just another country anno 2023.
While most social media accounts will still try to prove the Instagramability of France, Twitter account ‘La France Moche’ has chosen to do things differently. Since its beginning in 2021 one thing is pretty clear: the maker wants to show us France from its ugliest side.
Therefore, pretty much every day, a new picture of one of France’s ugliest buildings gets posted as some kind of depressing reality check. Instead of the Louvre, you get to see an abandoned apartment complex. Instead of beautiful boulevards, there are derelict streets covered in trash. Instead of mind-blowing statues from world-famous artists, there are ‘abstract’ creations in the middle of a roundabout.
Pro or against?
In essence, La France Moche is showing us what everyone who’s been to France already knows. When you go and visit a village or town, the center always makes you stop and stare in awe. Yet to get there, one has to travel through the not so aesthetically pleasing outskirts of that same place. And there, one gets confronted mostly with concrete jungles, massive shopping centers popping out the ground like a colourful metallic box and a certain tristesse, as the French would call it.
However, not everyone agrees with La France Moche. People like Jacques Boulnois, architect in the French city of Orléans, asks for a more nuanced point of view. “This account is a reflexion of the immediate, using images that are clickable, without any territorial, historic or architectural context. It’s like saying someone is ugly without knowing that person: you shouldn’t do it”, he explained in an interview with France 3 Val de Loire.
Whatever your opinion on the ugliness of it all, one thing’s for sure: La France Moche certainly gives you a more nuanced and more realistic image of France than ‘Emily in Paris’ does.