Recently we heard the authors of "The Bonjour Effect" interviewed on Rick's radio show. They were emphasized something we had been taught by the guide on our 21 Day BOE tour (Thanks, Jennifer!): When you enter a shop or restaurant in France, sing out with your best Julia Child type "Bonjour!" That is the magic phrase. You will be greeted in return, and have a much better chance of getting service that approximates what we are used to here in the States. When you leave, don't forget the "Au revoir!" as you walk out the door.
The authors are Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, a Canadian couple who have spent a lot of time in France. "The Bonjour Effect" is a primer on what to say - and what not to say - when in France. And why. The French are just as friendly and helpful as we are, but the rules of engagement are different. For example: Never ask a French person his or her name (!) or what he or she does for a living! It's okay to discuss politics and religion, and it's expected that couples will often disagree with each other in public; they think it's a sign of a strong and healthy relationship.
Find the books. Chances are your local library has them or can get them for you. I heartily recommend anyone planning a trip to France read "The Bonjour Effect," at least. "Sixty Million Frenchmen..." is an earlier book, and gets more into sociological and historical matters. I'm reading that one now, and it's fascinating. The section on France and WWII is an eye-opener.