Skip to comments.French try not to be so rude
Posted on 08/13/2006 12:14:12 PM PDT by Nachum
AS Parisians crowd to the beaches in August, tourists are descending on the City of Light in droves, undeterred by a recent survey highlighting complaints that visitors get the cold shoulder from locals.
The most visited country in the world, France received 76 million tourists last year, with Asians making up a growing proportion of those who came from non-European countries and 50,000 visitors jetting over every month from China alone.
All this despite stereotyped images of rude waiters, bored shop assistants and impatient Parisians all too ready to give nervous tourists the brush off in rapid French.
"French hospitality doesn't always have a good reputation," says tour guide Dalanda Diallo, leading a group on a "bateau mouche" tourist boat on the river Seine in Paris.
"We get some feedback from tourists who have visited us before, and in general they tell us that the French are cold and not very welcoming and sometimes it is true," she said.
"But it is a generalisation. There are also French people who are very welcoming."
France has always been a tourist magnet its capital Paris is considered one of the world's most beautiful cities and its varied countryside and cuisine are bywords for good living and the finer things in life.
The only sticking point has long been the way tourists see the French themselves.
The latest research by the pollsters IPSOS shows that the one thing most visitors complain about is that they are not made to feel welcome.
"They're good but they're very reserved," said Brian Peters, a 40 year-old dentist visiting from Santa Barbara in California. "It takes a while to warm up to them."
Alarmed by the findings, the Government commissioned a special report to try to make improvements.
"Our competitors are benefiting from the bad reputation of our welcome," the report said, noting that France risked slipping behind countries like Britain or Italy.
As well as smartening up Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport and improving training for tourism professionals, the report recommended encouraging ordinary French people to improve their welcome of foreign visitors.
"A taste for service which is not servile, a sense of a team effort necessary for the international success of France Ltd, have to be revived," it said.
Things have already started to change, according to some who have been irked by the French in the past.
"I came here four years ago and I had a bad experience with people, but this time I had a very good experience," said Erika de Maduro, from Venezuela. "People were kind and amiable."
And others have never faced any problems.
"I have come (to) this airport five or six times, but I never felt bad hospitality from French people," Hajime Kobata, 31, from Japan, said at Charles de Gaulle airport.
Philippe Kaspi, a senior official at the Tourism Ministry, says France's reputation for unfriendliness is unjustified but he concedes that there is always room for improvement.
"Since France is the first (destination) in the world, it's normal that you would look at what the number one is doing, rather than what the number 150 is doing," he said.
Oh, that'll encourage them to be sweet FOR SURE! Yeah, we're really worried about them being SERVILE to us..!
Gosh, Jean-Claude, the way you keep shop needs improvement --couldn't you stop being so SERVILE, and scoff and snort a bit more?
Maybe roll your eyes skyward? Shake your head a bit and sigh?
THEN the traveler's checks will REALLY just fly out of my wallet!
That would be the pickpockets.
au contraire. the french are quite welcoming to Americans when they have nazi bullets aimed at them.
England, Ireland, Australia or Germany maybe but not France.
And that is the reason that Paris empties out during the summer. Even they can't take it.
The point this statement illustrates is, the froggies themselves don't know how to serve their customers without feeling servile. It is a common trait of narcissistic people with crappy self esteem.
They may try for a while, but I think they'll give up soon.
I was in France five years ago. I had a free apartment in Paris for six weeks. I went all over the city's main sites and museums every day. The ethnic French were fine. Many were very kind in fact. The immigrants were often jerks. They were rude, pushy, and arrogant. I was surprised.
My one trip up the Eiffel Tower, I was in the elevator with about 20 young French girl students about 12 years old. It took my breath away and not in a good way. I can only imagine what the trip would have been like with a bunch of French adults.
Many moons ago I lived in France for several months as a student. "Eau de Frenchie French-person" was the most shocking part of the whole experience. I will never forget that stench.
Many years later while I was traveling in Japan I had the occasion to be squished onto a train during rush hour. I remember thinking, "Thank you, Jesus, I'm not in France right now." It was a fervant, heart-felt prayer.
I would return to Japan. I will never return to France. Those people stink worse than their cheese.
We lived in the southern part of France for several months a few years ago, and found that the French in that area were very helpful, sometimes going far out of their way to help us. They *were* very reserved and expected you to be polite, but when they could tell we were trying to be polite, they were very nice indeed.
Parisians, on the other hand, were pretty rude. We decided it was a case of "big city syndrome" -- people in big cities just are too rushed and bothered to be very polite. Found the same thing in New York City, London, and Chicago. (Londoners were the worst of the lot!) But unfortunately, most Americans never get beyond Paris, so they think all the French are rude as hell.
French air traffic controllers STILL refuse to speak English to non-French air crews creating an ongoing chance of a miscommunication and accident...
Disney Europe , outside of Paris , will soon be engulfed by the "no go" muslim slum zones... enjoy your trip!
I've been to France several times. In areas heavily-frequented by tourists, the locals are, indeed, rude to tourists. In other areas, they are not. If you can be polite in French, you'll be welcomed in most parts of France, and the French people outside of the tourist cities are actually quite helpful and friendly.
But, this is the same everywhere in the world, pretty much, and I've been a lot of places. Go to a tourist area and the locals hate the tourists. It even happens in the USA. Tourists are a necessary inconvenience for tourist areas. They are rude. They drive exceptionally badly, and they clog the streets and sidewalks.
Anyone who has lived in a community heavily-visited by tourists knows exactly what I'm talking about. Even when you speak the same language as the tourists, they are loud, annoying, and impatient.
France is no different. Just go to small towns in France, stay in small hotels there, and enjoy yourself. But you'll need a bit of French to survive, since English is not generally spoken except in the tourist areas.
Growing up in Kalifornia, and having spent many years abroad, I've heard lots and lots of screwed up English; heavy accents and broken English do not phase me. I can be in a group of Americans trying to decypher cryptic English, and many times I'll be the one to untangle it, and do so like it's nothing.
Remember "The Swedish Chef" from The Muppet Show? This bit*h's English was considerably worse than that guy's. In other words, she was utterly incomprehensible.
Here's the crazy part: I SPEAK FRENCH.
Yep. I'm sorry. I'm kind of in the closet about it (I went to a French school for a long time). Do you think she'd just go ahead and speak French to me? No.
It would have been a blow to her pride. So she'd just slog through with her bizarre Frenglish, and the word that we were doing was EXTREMELY detail-oriented --this wasn't painting, or something. It was biotech stuff, and you can't mess up, you can't take guess, or just sort of wing it.
I'd answer this woman in French, which she understood every time, and she'd answer in this crazed gobbledigook. Her grasp of science was fine --she just couldn't communicate. She construed every request for clarity or repetition as questioning her grasp of science. Then, she'd just start insulting me. She was extremely good at it.
And condescension? She was a virtuosso.
Everyone in the company (I was one of the few white guys) was happy that it was me that had to deal with her, and not one of them.
To this day if I have to work with anyone French, I start getting a sick feeling.
Remember the 9,000 car burnings in France? I'll conceed that those were done by goons who would take us back to the Dark Ages, which is certainly bad, but privately I'll admit they made my heart sing.
Remember the day the platform at the top of the Eiffel Tower caught fire a couple years back? I reacted by bursting out in fits of joyous laughter.
Isn't that terrible?
I've had beautiful experiences in France, traveling through Provence - sweet, friendly people and air sweetened with the fragrance of wild lavender, pretty landscapes, .... I agree with you about 'big city syndrome' but I must make one ammendment. The people of NY have a brusque demeanor, but that doesn't make them unfriendly. On the contrary. I'm inclined to say that New Yorkers are the friendliest people in the world. Where else in the world could you be eating a banana, looking for a trash can, have some security guy on his cell phone walking by, not even making eye contact with you, yet extending his arm to indicate that he'll take that peel? Certainly not in London where doormen parade in front of doors but won't take your bags, hold the door or any of the other courtesies that NY doormen do naturally. Perhaps its because in our uber-capitalist economy, at every moment, either you're evaluating someone or someone is evaluating you. So service comes naturally to us in NY, Chicago, LA, Minneapolis, New Orleans, ............
I agree - New Yorkers are friendly and not as uptight as people in many other cities.
People in south of France were friendly - even in the tourist areas IME.
Actually, I'm not sure he said "please." Unfortunately, my French was not sophisticated enough to follow with, "Suck eggs, Frenchie, gimme a cheeseburger and hold the fries."
The French folks outside of Paris were actually very pleasant.
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