"It's a fact: France and the French are pessimists," said Alain Duhamel, a respected French commentator.
He said: "The French doubt themselves and worry about the future. They do so more than the citizens of neighbouring countries, even when those neighbouring countries are doing less well than we are and have a more negative future ahead.
"France has been anxious about its future, about its way of life, for the last 30 years, ever since the employment crisis and doubts about identity, ever since the absence of clear perspectives and collective projects."
Politicians agree that the French are particularly upset about the drop in their purchasing power, which has led to strong group pessimism even if individual confidence is quite high.
This fear for the country's economic future is illustrated by the fact that the French are among the most assiduous savers in the world, putting aside an average of 16 per cent of their income.
Pierre Taribo, writing in L'Est Républicain, agreed with Mr Duhamel. He wrote: "One is forced to say that the French no longer believe in very much. Confronted with the reality of an open economy, clearly showing less and less appetite for politics, they are disillusioned and doubt everything from Chirac to the government and the Right, which is accused of every ill, to the Left, which has no projects, and the unions, whose activism no longer inspires a reflex of blind adhesion."
In times of crisis, or for that matter in any times at all, you don't pay attention to those who bemoan the difficulties of forging ahead. You ignore those injured members of the pack like your life depends on it, which it does. The French have centuries of shame to live down, and they're going to take a while. Until then, they're dead to me.