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11 French Travel Tips for Visiting America
Mental Floss ^ | March 4, 2014 | Therese Oneill

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.

1. Be Friendly to Nosy Strangers. Grind Their Knuckles!

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]

2. You Have to Help People, And Look Like You Really Mean It

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

3. They Feel No Humiliation about Their Eating Habits, even when asking for a "Doggy Bag"

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]

4. You Can Not Abandon Ugly Children. In Fact You Must Praise Them.

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]

5. The White Man and the Countdown

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]

6. They Don't Steal Your Stuff!

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]

7. Their Plumbing is Insulting

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 

8. Everything is so damn inspiring

"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]

9. They have orange pill pots and carefully prepare your medication, like in the movies!

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]

10. They All Go to the Bathroom Together in the Same Room. No Walls or Nothing.

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]

11. Cut in Line and an American Will Cut You

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]



TOPICS: Humor; Travel
KEYWORDS: napl
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Have fun, Freepers!
1 posted on 03/06/2014 10:01:49 PM PST by Slings and Arrows
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To: Slings and Arrows; MeekOneGOP; Conspiracy Guy; DocRock; King Prout; Darksheare; OSHA; ...
12. The English spelling of "poison" is not "deodorant," although the confusion is understandable.


2 posted on 03/06/2014 10:03:08 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

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.


3 posted on 03/06/2014 10:23:24 PM PST by firebrand
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To: Slings and Arrows

“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.


4 posted on 03/06/2014 10:24:28 PM PST by Olog-hai
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To: Slings and Arrows
White man say 'Go'.

Hand of red man say 'No'.

5 posted on 03/06/2014 10:24:58 PM PST by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: Slings and Arrows

Bullshit article

Spent a lot of time in France over the years

Freepers don’t know France


6 posted on 03/06/2014 10:28:48 PM PST by wardaddy (ukraine......aint nobody gonna do nothing but talk and try to score political points)
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To: who_would_fardels_bear

7 posted on 03/06/2014 10:28:56 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: firebrand
Wow I can’t believe the French would not help someone get up if they fell on the sidewalk.

They probably thought the guy was surrendering.

8 posted on 03/06/2014 10:29:49 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Things that non-New Yorkers do in New York:

Walk backwards
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.


9 posted on 03/06/2014 10:32:15 PM PST by firebrand
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To: Slings and Arrows

Yes, the swine who sold me our house failed to have a flexible nozzle. The one who must be obeyed made a request.


10 posted on 03/06/2014 10:32:54 PM PST by Domangart (LBGT = NAMBLA)
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To: firebrand

I think they probably would help somebody, but it wouldn’t be in an enthusiastic, American manner.


11 posted on 03/06/2014 10:34:46 PM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults)
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To: firebrand
Things that non-New Yorkers do in New York:

Leave.

12 posted on 03/06/2014 10:49:05 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

American travel tips for visiting France:

Don’t mention the war.
Don’t mention the riots.


13 posted on 03/06/2014 10:49:41 PM PST by RichInOC ("In the name of Allah, The Inexorable, The Irresistible...")
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To: Slings and Arrows

I’m shocked the lack of bidets was not mentioned. Must not have been written by une femme française.


14 posted on 03/06/2014 10:51:13 PM PST by DeFault User (.)
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To: RichInOC

To get good service, talk in French.

To get great service, talk in German.


15 posted on 03/06/2014 10:53:41 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Yes. New York is their little oyster for a while and then they go back home.


16 posted on 03/06/2014 10:54:13 PM PST by firebrand
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To: firebrand
Wow I can’t believe the French would not help someone get up if they fell on the sidewalk

Some cultures are different.

In China, No One Will Help You After An Accident

17 posted on 03/06/2014 10:54:52 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: Slings and Arrows
One thing I noticed in other countries is that people on crowded streets bump into each other all the time. It's perfectly normal. No apologies.

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?)

18 posted on 03/06/2014 11:07:18 PM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Slings and Arrows
I confess that I have a little trouble with this cult of everyday heroes.

You and me both, Frenchie.

19 posted on 03/06/2014 11:08:13 PM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Slings and Arrows
Leave.

Escape!

20 posted on 03/06/2014 11:09:14 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: Still Thinking

And don’t look back.


21 posted on 03/06/2014 11:11:13 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Damn straight.


22 posted on 03/06/2014 11:12:20 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: Slings and Arrows

A lot of these are sooooo true!

I lived the opposite when I went to live in France! Funny.


23 posted on 03/06/2014 11:14:50 PM PST by Yaelle
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To: firebrand

Wow I can’t believe the French would not help someone get up if they fell on the sidewalk.


They don’t have the public friendliness and “we’re all in the same boat” mentality that Americans have. They keep to themselves more.

And some Parisians (in the days before gps on your phone) actually found it enjoyable to give foreign people wrong directions with a straight face, then laughing hysterically after.


24 posted on 03/06/2014 11:18:14 PM PST by Yaelle
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To: Slings and Arrows

Uh, yeah, try this in Detroit, Frenchies.


25 posted on 03/06/2014 11:22:07 PM PST by Bullish (America should yank Obama like a rotten tooth before he poisons the entire body)
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To: wardaddy

I don’t think it’s bull. The guy or gal who wrote it is French, for sure. We all notice these little differences when we travel, and it’s funny to read how we look from the outside.

Man, I did not like the way I’d wait in line somewhere in France, like at a ski lift, and people just shushed right in front of me over and over. And lots of lines in college didn’t look like lines - just chaotic students en masse pushing in front with elbows flying.

And chatting with strangers, wow, did i get into trouble doing that in France. Guys getting totally wrong impressions, lol. And blowing people’s minds if I asked them about products they were buying in the grocery store. They don’t really talk to strangers like we do. One of my work colleagues said it best: if you sit next to an American on the metro or bus, you know his entire sex life before you arrive. Lol! We are more open than we know.


26 posted on 03/06/2014 11:23:51 PM PST by Yaelle
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To: wardaddy

Been to France, don’t need to go again.


27 posted on 03/06/2014 11:25:00 PM PST by Delta Dawn (Fluent in two languages: English and cursive.)
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To: Yaelle

New Yorkers don’t give wrong directions purposely but they do it unintentionally all the time.

Just the other day I noticed two guys looking around mystified and it turned out they were looking for the Dublin House, which is on 79th Street, and they were on 96th. Someone no doubt confidently gave them the wrong information. Check smartphone. Back on the subway.

When I first got to NY I was trying to get to Brooklyn and somebody said take any of the West Side trains going downtown. Except the local, of course, but they didn’t say that. When the train started going back uptown, I figured I had done something wrong.


28 posted on 03/06/2014 11:29:14 PM PST by firebrand
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To: Slings and Arrows

I’m surprised any of them know what a shower head looks like.


29 posted on 03/06/2014 11:29:15 PM PST by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: Kirkwood

“Know thine enemy.”


30 posted on 03/06/2014 11:43:35 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

So wrong.

I laughed.


31 posted on 03/06/2014 11:48:44 PM PST by RichInOC (Ze drem vil finali kum tru.)
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To: RichInOC

Q. Why did the French plant trees along the Champs Elysees?

A. So the Germans could march in the shade.


32 posted on 03/06/2014 11:52:04 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

33 posted on 03/06/2014 11:59:33 PM PST by Daffynition ("If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." ~ Henry Ford)
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To: Daffynition

A masterpiece.


34 posted on 03/07/2014 12:32:48 AM PST by Slings and Arrows (Richard Warman censors free speech.)
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To: wardaddy; Salamander; Slings and Arrows

One thing I’ll agree with him on - Fixed Shower Heads.

Any house or apartment I’ve lived in, the first thing I do is replace the shower head with a flexible multi-setting head with a long extension.

Gotta keep all the nooks and crannies clean, dontchano!


35 posted on 03/07/2014 1:03:57 AM PST by shibumi (Cover it with gas and set it on fire.)
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To: firebrand

I never knew some people would have an issue or think twice about a “doggie bag.” There is nothing wrong with taking the rest of your food home that you couldn’t finish at the establishment. You paid for it, and handsomely I’m sure. As for tipping the waitperson more, never would think of that either...They write down what I want the chef to prepare and then bring it out to me. For that total of at most 15 minutes of time they will receive at least 5 bucks plus what the restaurant pays them. Usually 3 bucks so that comes out to $36 an hour. How much more work is it to grab a to go container?


36 posted on 03/07/2014 1:08:45 AM PST by kelly4c (http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/post?id=2900389%2C41#help)
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To: Kirkwood
The showerhead complaint is pretty idiotic anyway. Almost all can be installed/uninstalled by hand or with a pair of pliers.

I'm very particular about my showerhead, so I do agree with this guy. It's just that they sell "shower massage" type showerheads for about $15 almost everywhere.

37 posted on 03/07/2014 1:16:16 AM PST by j. earl carter
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To: kelly4c

I figure they have to ask the kitchen staff. So that is an added nuisance. But they are all used to it now. It used to be that you would just ask if there was half a steak left but now anything goes.

I like tipping restaurant people. They work hard and they get a low hourly wage, and they probably didn’t come to New York to be a server, so tips are everything.

I also will not go out to eat with people if they drive the waitstaff crazy. Some people do that. I don’t know why. I guess they feel they have them at their mercy.


38 posted on 03/07/2014 1:26:23 AM PST by firebrand
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To: firebrand

I just figured out what probably happened to the two guys looking for the Dublin House. They were on 72nd Street and somebody said take the subway one stop. But they took the express. Not that anyone cares, but it solves the mystery.


39 posted on 03/07/2014 1:33:27 AM PST by firebrand
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To: firebrand

I will always be courteous to the people responsible for preparing/serving my food seeing as I might not feel too safe eating it if I wasn’t! Any complaints I will talk to magmt afterwards. However, if the food is bad (Got a slab of basically raw turkey served to me once on a BLTT sandwich once) I will just point it out to manager, have it sent back and order something safe, with it being comped. And not frequent that particualr place again if I can help it.

Ugh thnking back if I had eaten that sandwich not realizing it would have made me soooo sick:( Glad that I inspect my food a bit before chowing down.


40 posted on 03/07/2014 2:22:34 AM PST by kelly4c (http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/post?id=2900389%2C41#help)
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To: wardaddy

Well, I only went to France once as an adult in the mid-Seventies when I was in the Navy, to Brest. The people were damned rude to us and sure gave the outright impression they hated us.

It could have been the uniform. Who knows. But my everlasting impression of that place was typically passing an older French couple who openly glared at me.

And it wasn’t just me. It was a homogenous impression. Without exception, every guy I spoke to when I got back to the ship had the same experience.

I went there as a young teenager in the Seventies, and I don’t remember anything like that. But as an adult, my overriding impression of being in France was black dislike.


41 posted on 03/07/2014 2:44:11 AM PST by rlmorel ("A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral." A. Hamilton)
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To: Slings and Arrows

If these people were going to fly-over country instead of the coast, either one, this would be quite a different story.


42 posted on 03/07/2014 2:52:32 AM PST by MrKatykelly
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To: who_would_fardels_bear

Hahahaha...I laughed when I read that! “White man...”

Some of the comments here are hilarious...

But I don’t know how real or not this article is, but I will say this: I found it flattering as an American.

There are many things about being an American that other cultures dislike, and as far as I am concerned, they can go pound sand. I am not going to intentionally become more of a douchebag just to suit their culture or customs.

I laugh when Euroweenies speak disparagingly about someone being a “cowboy”. As far as I am concerned, I can’t think of a higher compliment that could be paid to me by a foreigner than to be disparagingly called “a cowboy”.

And I like it even more because they think it is an insult.


43 posted on 03/07/2014 2:55:07 AM PST by rlmorel ("A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral." A. Hamilton)
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To: kelly4c
Good advice.

From Road Trip:

1.) Get your French Toast:

2.) Complain about too much sugar on your French Toast

3.) Cook takes French Toast back to kitchen and cleans sugar from French Toast

4.) Warms them up by putting on slice down front of sweatpants...

5.) Warms the other slice by putting it down the back of sweatpants...serves several other customers to get them nice and warm:

6.) Gives you back your New French Toast:

7.) Express to fellow diners how good your French Toast is:

44 posted on 03/07/2014 3:16:44 AM PST by rlmorel ("A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral." A. Hamilton)
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To: Olog-hai

I think the best hotels and stores have the violent flushing systems. I love them - it much more hygienic. Never notice this in my foreign travels.


45 posted on 03/07/2014 3:28:30 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Vince Ferrer

In Paris, I was always helped. A woman pulled me through the turnstile on her own metro card in the subway when it absolutely refused to let me through the turnstile. Nice girl. The Parisians have always been nice to me and my husband.


46 posted on 03/07/2014 3:31:07 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Yaelle

You want to learn about waiting in lines, serve as an enlisted sailor on an aircraft carrier. You wait in line for EVERYTHING, especially chow or liberty. I’ve even waited in line to take a dump!!


47 posted on 03/07/2014 4:13:03 AM PST by fredhead (Join the Navy and see the world.....77% of which is covered in water.)
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To: Yaelle
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.

So what do they do in France? Just throw a handful of pills in a bag?

48 posted on 03/07/2014 4:27:20 AM PST by SoothingDave
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To: Slings and Arrows

I doubt those tips actually come from a Frenchman.


49 posted on 03/07/2014 4:40:53 AM PST by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible traitors. Complicit in the destruction of our country.)
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To: kelly4c

Isn’t this something that people ordering cakes from bakers who don’t like their lifestyles or celebrations should take to heart? I would!


50 posted on 03/07/2014 5:11:26 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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