The chief executive of a US tyre company sparked fresh fury in France after saying yesterday the country has "beautiful women and fantastic wine" but "no idea how to run a business".
Maurice Taylor – chief executive of Titan International – had already incensed the French once this week by saying the country's "so-called" workers put in "three hours a day" with the rest spent eating and talking.
Those comments caused French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg to tell Mr Taylor that his comments were "extremist and insulting" and displayed "a perfect ignorance of what our country is about".
The minister added that Mr Taylor could count on him "to inspect your tyre imports with a redoubled zeal".
Yesterday, Mr Taylor responded: "Your letter shows the extent to which your political class is out of touch with [real] world problems.
"You call me an extremist, but most businessmen would agree that I must be nuts to have the idea to spend millions of US dollars to buy a tyre factory in France paying some of the highest wages in the world."
The bizarre row began when Titan International's Taylor, who goes by "The Grizz" for his bear-like, no-nonsense style, told the left-wing industry minister in a letter published by Paris media that he had no interest in buying a doomed tyre plant.
"The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three," Mr Taylor said in the letter addressed to Mr Montebourg.
"I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way," Mr Taylor added.