(Well some of the reasons. All of them would fill a book).
Contrary to what you may have been taught in school, the French, in their day were real go-getters. Pretty much the Boss of Europe, with much the best army and navy, they were way also way ahead of us Brits in building an Empire On Which The Sun Never Sets.
And for those who doubt the truth of that statement, I give you North America which they had the greater part of, and Canada which they had all of, before we happened along.
To which you can add India, that Jewel In the Crown Of England. Which was also set fair to become the largest French speaking land mass on the planet till we wandered by
But what really infuriated the French, even more than us pinching their colonies when they weren't paying attention, was that we bragged about how we went about it..
It was all down to our superior navy, we claimed. Backed up by the heroism and sheer fighting skills of our brave lads in blue, and red with white facings, and green with rifles, and general jolly jack tar attitude.
When the truth of the matter was quite simply that they were having a lot of bother on the domestic front. Not only were they more or less constantly at war with everyone else in Europe,they had us lot continually popping over in our boats and landing bunches of redcoats to harass them at every opportunity.
So , while they were forced to maintain a huge standing army just to guard their borders, we were free to splash out on warships, some to cruise up and down the Channel, the rest to transport the army we didn't need at home to slaughter Johnny foreigner wherever we'd a mind.
Which meant that despite all their marching about in splendid uniforms ,in the end Pierre and Jaques and co had to give up their splendid colonies out of sheer being too busy elsewhere.
In fact I'm pretty sure those Frenchies guessed how America would turn out ,and were only to glad to be shot of it while they had the chance. But India they were really rather cross about.
As they are about us calling the Channel the English Channel.
'Why English,' they cry, all petulant. 'What's English about it, alor!'
('Alor', incidentally is derived from that ancient English expression of dismay 'Oh lor!' ).
Anyway back in Europe they girded their loins and set about building themselves an empire right there, next door, where we couldn't get at them so easy. They appointed a very good general manager name of Napoleon Bonoparte with the brief of persuading as many others as possible to join in and all in all enjoyed considerable success, marching their troops about in uniforms of an exceeding grandeur., prancing their noble steeds and playing their peculiar music before admiring crowds.
On the way they took a look at us, very tempted to give us a smack or two for our cheek. But someone told Boney The Nap that England was far too cold and wet to bother with,and couldn't produce even the sourest of vin du maison, not even on a good day
'Zut alors!' they exclaimed (there's that word again), 'we'll be back later, after we've sorted Russia .'
Helas! (from the English 'Alas' of course), It was in Russia where everything began to go pear shape.
Not straight away mind. In fact everything went swimmingly at first. Nap and the boys duly drummed and piped and cymballed into Moscow all high boots and epaulets, and declared checkmate as was the rule. But the Russians cheated and kept on fighting.
'You've got to surrender! We've collared your capital.That's the rules!' Napoleon pointed out,all stern and commanding.
'Don't care,shan't!'said the Russians
Damned bad form of course. Hardly civilised at all. To this day they can't play cricket.
Well, alright,neither can the French. But that's not because they can't. It's because they know we'd beat them, every time.
Anyway, 'Right,if that's your attitude we're off home,'said Napoleon.'And you needn't think we're going to let you be part of Europe,not after this!' he said.
And to add to his troubles, at the very moment he was having to deal with the Ruskies, down at the bottom end of Europe we Brits were at it again.
We had two goes as it happens. First we invaded Spain at a place called Corunna, and did our bit of parading about all triumphant. Till the Frenchies heard about it and promptly chased us back to our boats and away.
Then,having learned our lesson, at the very southernmost tip of Portugal, which was as far away form Pierre and co's muskets as we could get.
The first time,at Corunna we behaved as usual, turning our abject, running for dear life rush into a strategic retreat.Then into not a retreat at all, not really, but a sort of triumph. The regiment concerned even incorporated their rush for the boats into a regimental quick march, showing it off before admiring crowds in London.
'Nobody moves as fast as us,' they declared. And everyone cheered. (So you see, Dunkirk wasn't the first. Not by a long way).
It was the second time that really upset the French however. That time, when Pierre and chums trotted down to see us off, instead of taking to the boats, we tucked in behind some barricades and went all obstinate.
'Sucks ya boo,' we said.'Come and kick us out if you think you're hard enough.'
For we now had the Iron Duke in charge. Wellington himself. Complete with boots and his own horse.
And he knew, tucked in behind his defenses and supplied regular with take- aways, courtesy of the Royal Navy, as he was, that he could outlast any number of Frenchies Frenchies camped dangerously far from their stocks of vin ordinaire and onion soup.
Thus was reached the turning point, when Nap. and Son Copains, heels trampled on by Russkies in the north and English in the south, stopped winning and started losing.
(I suppose I ought to say 'British' rather than 'English' at this point. I believe some Scots blokes were involved in some way. Have to check when I get a moment).
Anyhoo, not long afterwards it all ended with everyone back where they started, inside their own country. Which is of course how all European wars finish.
Apart from Napoleon who was found,immediately after the allies entered Paris, not to be the all-French hero after all, but some Italian bloke who couldn't even speak proper. No wonder the French had lost, they said, what with this Italian giving his orders in some weird lingo nobody could understand!
'Demmed Nonsense!' retorted the Brits because that's how they talked back then ' it was all down to our having superior marching about tunes and taller hats on our footguards.'
And we named our newest and grandest railway station Waterloo, just to rub their nose in it when they came to visit
So it was Napoleon was sent on extended leave to some island, where he was shortly murdered by his wallpaper, the French went about muttering 'sacre bleu' and 'feather in my aunt's best hat' (English translation),
and the English strutted around all proud and haughty and took credit for the whole shebang. Naturally.
After that it was pretty much downhill all the way for Pierre and mates. There they were, surrounded by countries they had once ordered about and who now not only sneered at them for snail and frog munchers, but did so in the very latest fashionable language. Which was English.
No wonder they weren't all that happy.
The Prussians in particular, still sore at being too late at Waterloo (the battle not the station) spent much time chucking stones through French windows and yelling 'Gott In Himmel' and such until Pierre gave them the finger.
At which Prussia turned into Germany and invaded Paris. And the French had to say sorry just to make them go away.
What was more, Germany found it quite enjoyed the invasion lark, and repeated the exercise twice more. Until finally Pierre and Jaques had to be rescued. And guess by who? Why the Brits of course.
No wonder they don't like us all that much..