Skip to comments.11 French Travel Tips for Visiting America
Posted on 03/06/2014 10:01:48 PM PST by Slings and Arrows
The Internet is full of French travelers who've experienced the United States and have things to say about the strange ways of Americans. With the help of Google Translate, Americans can get a peek at these revelations. We know that there are no doubt many Flossers who can translate French better than Google can (though probably not as hilariously), and we welcome any additional information in the comments.
Our custom is to kiss before, during, and after each social encounter, with 1, 2, 3, or 4 kisses. This is not the custom in the United States. For a friend, we will hug, with a great tapping on the back and a big smile. For colleagues, greet with a good handshake. Americans have a firm handshake, so do not hesitate to grind their knuckles. It is also a sign you have confidence in yourself.
Be prepared for an onslaught of friendliness. You may be approached by a stranger on the street asking you where you got your coat. Passersby greet each other cheerfully in the street. Your neighbor may compliment you on the curve of your muscles, and the cashier at the supermarket may ask you what you are doing with this beautiful weekend (and the three cases of rosé you've purchased). [Source]
A passerby stumbles and sprawls in the street, an old lady can barely control Brutus at the end of a leash, a small tricycle driver loses control of his vehicle. Politeness means, of course, that you come and help all these people. American culture wants you to quit all your activities and rescue the unfortunate. In America, you cannot pretend to not have noticed all these little quirks. You must rush to provide assistance to all who need it. [Source]
Whether in the street, public transport or any public place, we must adopt this reflex. Hard, tough, because it must be done without looking first to the right and left to see if someone is already trying to help the person in trouble. In short, it must be done spontaneously and with good heart. I like it when it happens: for example my keys jumped out of my bike basket when I hit a hole, and the Americans rushed at me to help. It's cool. I smile. [Source]
See Also: 4 Russian Travel Tips for Visiting America
Americans eat and drink anything and at any time of the day: in the street, in a meeting at work, in the car, on the subway, in the elevator, the movies ... So, there are drink rests everywhere: cinema seats, baby strollers, shopping carts at the supermarket, in cars, some bike handlebars. [Source]
The portions are often gargantuan in the United States (but you already knew that). Americans are not embarrassed to ask for a "doggy bag" to take home. They'll even take home the rest of the tortillas appetizer.
The art of asking for a doggy bag (for a French person) is sometimes difficult to implement; between servers who disappear faster than their shadows, and the dread that you will appear stingy, it is not always easy. [Source]
Want to drop off your pants at the cleaners, leave an item with the hotel receptionist or pop into the supermarket while the kids do their homework? Know that leaving children alone, whether at the home, in the car, or the hotel is frowned upon, even prohibited. [Source]
Rejoicing in the presence of children or pets. This is the correlate of "smile to strangers," it is mandatory to have a smile or a little "how cute" tilt to your head if you come across a child or pet. Even if they are ugly. [Source]
Crossing the road as a pedestrian is not always easy, you often have to wait for ages. When the white man is on, you can cross. And then a stressful countdown shows the time remaining for you to cross, sometimes only a few seconds to cross large avenues. [Source]
If it should happen I need to leave my stuff unattended when I'm in the coffee shop, I just ask someone to look at it for the time it takes for me to go to the toilet. When I forget something in my bike basket, it is still there, even at night. And when you have packages waiting for you at home, they remain in the lobby and no one takes them. It may seem normal and civic way of doing it, but I am surprised. Since coming to America, I've become much less suspicious. [Source]
The stuff that insulted my common sense is the fixed heads of showers. [Source]
I still have not understood how it is that in my American sink I have, in addition to the tap, a flexible head (as in a French shower) to rinse the corners of the sink but in my shower / tub which is three times larger, I have a fixed head on the wall! No logic! [Source]
The other very strange occurrence is violent flushing. Be prepared when you flush to have the impression of being in an airplane toilet! [Source]
See Also: 10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America
"Inspiring" became a word I heard every day: everything must be "inspiring" and push transcendence. We go to the movies, there is a choice between the biopic Lincoln, the Avengers or Misérables, each so inspiring in their own way. The books are inspiring, everyday people are inspiring (such as all the people with children and a job at the same time, teachers, etc...). I confess that I have a little trouble with this cult of everyday heroes. [Source]
I have to arm myself with patience for each passage to the pharmacy. Here, we will prepare your requirements in an orange pot in your name, with the correct number of tablets and the dose recommended above (yes, just like in the movies). So, it takes for ages. The trick? Post your order and continue shopping, then return later. [Source]
If you want privacy (in a public restroom), no chance. There are no real walls, only partitions that do not even go to the ground. So you can see the shoes of your colleagues, hear all the noises ... And even the doors do not help much. You can see the faces of the occupants through the slits in the doorway. [Source]
The film will start in 3 minutes and there are still 15 people in front of you, including a family of six children who are unable to decide anything. You would be tempted to quietly scrape forward a few places so as to be sure you get your popcorn and miss nothing of the film.
Never! In the United States, small barriers often mark out the entries, lines on the ground indicate where to stop and there is no He who goes hunting loses his place" mentality there. [Source]
There is no chaotic rush to be first, not even if a spot opens unexpectedly, no "I didn't see you there." Here each have their turn in order of arrival, even the elderly. It's pretty relaxing actually, even though I liked the excitement of notching in the queue. [Source]
Wow I can’t believe the French would not help someone get up if they fell on the sidewalk. People who walk with a cane get almost too much help here but it is really a very nice aspect of Americans. That is funny about our bathrooms. I guess privacy is a matter of custom. I never used to take leftovers home either but now I do because everyone does and you give an extra tip to the server.
“Violent flushing” . . . ?? British toilets (made by Armitage Shanks) are the most “violent” flushers I’ve encountered, and they’re across “La Manche” from the French.
Hand of red man say 'No'.
Spent a lot of time in France over the years
Freepers don’t know France
They probably thought the guy was surrendering.
Things that non-New Yorkers do in New York:
Throw their arm out to the side
Bump into people
Stand without moving at crosswalks
Stand in groups on the sidewalk blocking it
Stand in front of doors or in front of stairs or escalators
Make out (hetero)
Never have a metro card or the right change
Hold up the bus asking for information from the driver
There are also many annoying things that New Yorkers do that others don’t do, of course. They’re in a different category of annoying.
Yes, the swine who sold me our house failed to have a flexible nozzle. The one who must be obeyed made a request.
I think they probably would help somebody, but it wouldn’t be in an enthusiastic, American manner.
American travel tips for visiting France:
Don’t mention the war.
Don’t mention the riots.
I’m shocked the lack of bidets was not mentioned. Must not have been written by une femme française.
To get good service, talk in French.
To get great service, talk in German.
Yes. New York is their little oyster for a while and then they go back home.
Some cultures are different.
NYC has some of the most crowded streets in the world and nobody bumps into anybody ever. A million people moving in a million directions and there is no contact whatsoever, unless you're a pickpocket (do those still exist?)
You and me both, Frenchie.