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attitude of French toward travelers from the USA

there have long been stereotypes with regard to the idea that the French for the most part do not care for Travelers from the US A coworker just returned from a cruise that included a stop in Marseilles - he said that based on his time there that he would never plan another day traveling in France - he went through a long list if issues - they also traveled to Spain and Italy as part of their cruise and loved every minute of those stops - we are planning a two week driving trip to France that would include - the d-day beaches - the French Alps and Paris. Was my coworkers experience in Marseilles just bad day or are there issues with how Americans are treated in France. We did a two week driving trip through central and northern Italy in June 2012 and had the best time ever - the places were wonderful and the people could not have been more open and willing to help any thoughts would be appreciated

Posted by
6778 posts

You're talking about one data point from a subgroup of total travelers - i.e. cruise ship passengers who likely don't venture out too far from the port and who interact with a sliver of the French populace. Given those factors alone, I'm not sure how you can fairly assess whether this experience is representative of all French people or even city of Marseille as a whole. Even the other stops in Spain and Italy are not representative, although they appealed more to your coworker (for whatever reasons we don't know about). Everyone who comes back from a trip has opinions - but their experience is so limited in time and breadth of contact, I would file it under "one guy's experience". I don't doubt that your worker was genuine in relating his impressions, but you may have different ones based on your own travels and interactions. So in spite of stereotypes or additional coworker input, I would encourage you to keep and open mind first and then find out yourself whether you agree or not. There's nothing like actually being on the ground.

Posted by
1014 posts

As a French teacher, I really get tired of people asking this question. I keep hoping that it will change one day, but the question remains. There will always be a few people who hate foreigners (look in your neighbourhood). Most of my French customer services experiences in touristy places has been wonderful. They want people to spread good words, as tourism is a huge industry in France. As many people point out, cruise travelers see very little of the actual country. The port of Marseille is not the postcard image of France. It's too bad they had a bad experience, but part of me wonders if they were looking for it.

Posted by
2788 posts

I have been all over France twice in the last couple of years. Not once did I detect any hostility, unfriendliness, or lack of interaction from any of the French folks I met, either in social settings or in restaurants or hotels. I would go back there in a minute. I particularly like Paris, but I also enjoyed traveling thru the south of France.

Posted by
3159 posts

I think Agnes has advanced a very appropriate , thoughtful ,accurate and level headed analysis which you should well take to heart . Your own comment about stereotypes indicates to me that you have substantial doubts about what you have heard . For my part , this old canard about the French is the stuff of good old American xenophobia and racism and always is bubbling just beneath the surface . My neighbors across the street spout it every chance they get , in spite of the fact that they have never been to France , but " they heard about it " . Don't forget the " Freedom Fries " of Bush and Cheney . We found the French to be affable and charming and in no way stand offish. They are not pleased with the insincere " How ya' doin ? " approach of many Americans . Attempt to acquire some of the manners that are common to their culture prior to your trip and you will be surprised at how sweet the French are . Of course , this a generality ,and you can encounter difficult and unreasonable people anywhere , like here at home ,but this " the French are nasty , rude , and cold "is just so much BS !!

Posted by
922 posts

Sorry your colleague brought that back, but in my experience you get what you give. There may be a few exceptions, but if I encounter them I walk away as fast as possible. With several billion people on the planet, such individuals are not worth a nanosecond. In Rome an elderly lady shouted angrily at a tour guide because the coach her group was boarding blocked the lady's view to cross the street safely. The guide went and helped the lady across, and the lady gave her a little smile and a kiss on both cheeks. Give kindness, get kindness.

Posted by
133 posts

Have only spent 1 week in Paris this past May. All our encounters with the french people were very positive.

Posted by
21356 posts

What is the coworker's general attitude? What were his issues? Our experience with the French over many years and many trips is that they tend to be a little more reserved, formal ?. And, generally, they expect to be greeted with a formal hello in French, learn it and use it. And nice good bye is appropriate.

Posted by
3696 posts

This is such a silly stereotype. Do an experiment... tomorrow, in your town, decide that you will search out the rude and negative people...I bet you'll find plenty. I have been there a number of times and never found the French to be more rude than anywhere else...more formal maybe, but that is why we travel...to learn and appreciate different cultures. So who are you going to believe??? Us, or this one coworker?:)))
Actually, I heard that cruise ship people are the rudest of all tourists...is that true?:) Go and find out for yourself. Have a great time.

Posted by
22 posts

thanks for all of the reply's - the reply's were what I hoped to hear - and yes I know that any part of any country that is seen only from the cruise ship port is much different than what you experience when you see the country in total - we always try to learn survival phrases and basic words - during our other trips it has been obvious that the locals like it when you at least make an attempt to converse with them in their language - we are very excited about going to France - I am sure that we will be asking other questions as we move forward in our planning - the Rick Steves' forums have been a great help to us when we have planned European trips in the past -

Posted by
1020 posts

I have been able to visit France a number of times through the years. The French are a warm-hearted, generous people. As in anyplace, you may encounter someone havIng a bad day or too busy to help when asked for directions. Their numbers are very small compared with the helpful and charming folks you will see. The key with the French (as with anyone) is to be polite. Learn how to say "Bon jour" when entering a shop or meeting anyone and "Merci" when departing. It's simple human relations. Is your coworker skilled in this area?

Posted by
11450 posts

Hey Ron, I live in a touristy cruise port .. and you want to know something, cruise ship passengers tend to be the most difficult and often rudest tourists to deal with . Want to know why, well its nothing to do with their nationality( although most are Americans on their way up to see Alaska) but because they are in a big rush, they expect to get the most bang for their buck and for their minute.. and right now, cause, they only have 6-8 hours. . They want to see the best, eat the best , and experience the best of a port, all in a short period of time.. they have little patience with one bad experience, a slow waiter, and ice cream stand with a huge line, or souvenir shop that's understaffed .. So maybe your friend was just a jerk.. Ask him if he followed the rules of politeness in France. Number one rule.. always , before any other thing comes out of your mouth, start by GREETING a person .. That means before you ask where the washroom is, where to pay for the bread, where to buy your bus ticket,, anything,, you start with "bonjour madame" or "bonjour monsieur". Skipping steps like that make YOU the tourist the rude and boorish one to the locals.
Also, in stores they prefer you not handle things.. we all do that here in North America , but they don't like it. Anyways Ron ,you will have a good time if you spend some time on this and other forums ,, research a few customs, and learn what to watch out for ( pickpockets )

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi, I would chalk it up to having a bad day with some bad luck thrown in. My suggestion is to plan on another visit. See if the same set of variables come into play. Does it matter how Americans are treated in France? Who cares? If you do, then I suppose you have to deal with it. But what about in Germany, Austria, Poland, Italy, etc? There must be some special reason why in particular Americans are more concerned with the way they are received in France than in any other European country. I've had exasperating moments/days in France along with some great days too. So what. After spending forty years traveling there since my first time as a backpacker, I'll continue visiting the country. "...the French for the most part do not care for travelers from the US." Even if I were to accept this premise as accurate, should that affect my decision to go to France? No, it does not. I also don't find the evidence to support this premise from my travels there.

Posted by
7877 posts

Oh boy. Here we go again.
Well when the French want to make a movie about very earthy, fun-loving, working people, they might set it in Marseille. So even the French stereotype the people of Marseille as people with some street creds. You'll see great looking grandmas in spandex and flashy blouses as well as women with their heads covered. It's kind of the Naples of France. But the Marseillais, don't think of themselves as very special. They look to the Corsicans as being the authentic ones who know how to enjoy life. Now mix this with the people coming off the ship. I stayed next to Marseille for six months, driving into the city 2-3 times a week. It's a special place, but I love it. The port of Marseille is in the process of converting to passenger ship traffic, so there will be more and more tourists coming off ships. It's ridiculous to judge a whole country on a one-day excursion to one special place. Go and enjoy.

Posted by
516 posts

Ron In September we are making our third trip to France in nine years, this time spending most of our time in Normandy and Provence. I heard all the comments you and others have mentioned and actually dreaded the first trip to France my wife was so looking forward to. I found that if you make even the slightest attempt to speak their language they fall all over you, and I mean in a good way. They may not like our politics, but they love the people from this country who on D-Day saved theirs from the Germans. We've also been to Italy, Scotland and England in recent years and I find the French people to be just as warm and welcoming as the ones we met in those countries. They find us interesting and unique and want to get to know us. All we have to do is give them an opening. I have friends who sadly will only travel on a cruise ship and love the one day in port a cruise affords them. Unlike those of us who take RS tours or have learned from Rick and the TH to travel independently, they only get a glimpse of the highlights and miss out on getting deeper into the culture and its people. Their loss is our gain. Your friend on the cruise sounds like my friend. They do what Rick often says about big bus tours in small towns, "they retreat to the predictable plumbing of their high rise hotels (or in this case, ship) and leave the nights to us". Happy travels. Jim

Posted by
11450 posts

I have one further comment/question . And think about it. How do the French know if you are American? Do you wear flags.. Are you singing your anthem. I assume both answers are no. I am Canadian. I speak English, and most would say by "accent" is Pacific West coast or Californian.. so I sound like you. I wear same brands, usually American stuff , so I look like you .. If a waiter snips at me , its because he is either having a bad day ( his dog may have just died) or he is burnt out ( anyone who has worked with tourists for a few years knows what that feels like) , or he is hung over.. I have never thought it was because I am Canadian. So why, why do Americans always assume its because they are American. They only know you are an English speaking tourist.. maybe American, maybe Canadian, maybe from Australian or New Zealand, remember, most of them can't tell our accents apart, just like we can't tell the difference between the accents of French speakers from Quebec, Belguim , Algeria, Paris or Basque regions.. they all sound French to us.. ( although I can tell the difference between Quebec and Parisian) I think some Americans read more into things,, from their own issues..

Posted by
31 posts

As a French women who loves to travel, I always try to be welcoming with tourists, as I am aware of how difficult it is to try and blend in with the locals.
Hopefully your coworkers will change their minds, and maybe they should try other places in France !

Posted by
459 posts

I agree with the others here. As Pat suggested, it is really helpful to learn a few French phrases and to understand a bit about manners from the French perspective. In general, they begin and end interactions with strangers with a polite verbal exchange. Entering a shop and ignoring the staff or abruptly asking the price of something is considered rude. Walking up to a hotel desk clerk and announcing "I have a reservation" without first exchanging greetings, is rude. In some settings, Americans tend to become instantly friendly and personal with strangers (casually offering opinions or asking personal questions) and this is also regarded as bad manners. Speaking very loudly in most public settings is also not part of their culture. From my travel experiences in France, I don't think their expectations are any more complex or demanding than those in other cultures. You just need to keep in mind that some customs or traditions from North America may offend the French.

Posted by
2916 posts

I can't add much here, since people have said it all, except that my experiences in 25 years of traveling to France have been extremely positive, and we've made many French friends that we still keep in touch with. And from your follow-up comments, Ron, it sounds like you've liked what you've heard. But I do have an anecdote about the perception of French attitudes towards Americans. 3 years ago we rented an apartment in Lyon, arriving by train, and the woman we rented from said she'd pick us up at the train station in her car. When we met her, I said it was so nice of her to do that, and she said that knew that Americans believed that the French don't like Americans, and she wanted to disabuse us of that view. We told her we have never been of that opinion anyway. Well, we rented from her again this April, and this time she didn't offer to meet us.:-)

Posted by
893 posts

Having lived in France for several years now, I can honestly say that the vast majority of French people are not intentionally rude or discriminatory towards Americans. However, I have experienced anti-foreigner bias, and the rare anti-American bias (Recently had an incidence in which I do think three other American friends and I were treated unfairly because we were American). And I speak French. (Which is how they usually know I'm American - they detect the accent. But it's also how I've sometimes known that they're biased - they overhear me speaking English to my family and don't realize I understand every word of French they then say to someone else) I've also been treated rudely while visiting in the US. And have experienced prejudice and racism in the US. The type of behavior your colleagu experienced isn't limited just to the US. So, are there issues with how Americans are treated in France? Yes, but they are rare. Your co-worker could have encountered one of those individuals who is against all foreigners, or maybe even the rarer type who is against Americans. Don't let that put you off on visiting France, because the odds are definitely in your favor for a positive experience.

Posted by
80 posts

The Americans I've seen have the most problems in France are the ones who seem to demand the US wherever they are-----can't understand two tiered coffee pricing---pay toilets in train stations---lack of ice in drinks---expect everyone to speak English---take dollars etc. They look for the US in foreign places as opposed to seeing "how its done there" and are frustrated when they can't find it----that attitude shows and their travel experience is predictably .. Sometimes you just want to scream "your visiting their country....if what you want is home...stay home" jmho
Paul

Posted by
977 posts

Paul you have summed the situation up brilliantly. I have encountered this very same attitude in Europe from Aussies. I wonder why they bother to travel.

Posted by
3319 posts

I have to say I agree with Paul and Judy...hearing Americans demanding a steak, saying "Oh thank god...other Americans!!" when running into other Americans, being loud and abnoxious, and other such rudeness, makes me cringe whenever I am witness to it! That said, people are people! You will find rude people in every country of the world, kind and generous people, rich people, poor people, abusive people...etc...you get the idea. For people to generalize about an entire culture based on a couple of encounters is unfair. Yes, there are cultural differences that you must be aware of but to take them personally is also unfair. The French at work tend to be business-like and efficient. This tends to be true in restaurants, which is one place Americans encounter French people most often. Waiting tables in France is a career job, not something you get while you're in college, like it is here. They are serious and business-like and they certainly don't chit-chat and try to be your best friend as they do in the US in order to get a good tip. Many Americans see this as rude when it's just them getting their job done. If people would just do a little research and find out these things before they go it would make things a little more understandable to them.
I wonder what the specific experience was in Marseilles that made you coworker have such a negative reaction? It's too bad because my extensive experiences travelling and staying in France have been just the opposite. Don't hesitate to go - just know a little before you leave and you've have a marvelous trip!

Posted by
70 posts

We have tourists here in FlorIDA, sometimes you love 'em, sometimes you hate 'em. It's usually nothing personal. For some reason I am the guy out of towners ALWAYS ask for directions. I usually help them out. I have been treated rudely in the UK when someone was very disappointed that I was a Yank and not a Canadian. They thought the wife and I must be from Canada because we were quiet, interested, and polite. So it happens everywhere.

Posted by
1170 posts

I wouldn't hold all of France hostage because of an experience in Marseille. Heck, I don't care very much for the area around Gare du Nord where there tends to be more pushing, shoving and agression, but I never held that against all of France. We have been to Normandy, Alsace, Burgundy, Brittany and Paris and I adore the French. This was my 10th trip to France, and if we had to choose one place to spend long periods of time i.e. live, it would be France. It's the most ridiculous thing to read about how Americans are treated in France...they've always been positive and most people report the same. Marseille, according to my French teacher from Paris, is a whole nother country. She isn't too fond of that area, and she's French.

Posted by
74 posts

When I visited Paris, I had no problem at all. I would start every encounter with "Bonjour Monsieur. Je ne parle pas francais. Parlez-vous anglais? I never got a rude answer. It is very important to the French that you understand that you are in their country, and that you should use French if at all possible. In addition, be polite. ("Merci beaucoup. Au revoir!" when you finish.

Posted by
7877 posts

@Christine, What Mme Eli said was that her French teacher is from France and isn't too fond of that area. I don't believe anyone said the people from Marseille were rude. That gives us a score of 27 positive and 0 negative on attitude. So what do you think now, Ron?

Posted by
1501 posts

I JUST returned from Paris, and stayed in a cute little hotel close to the Eiffel Tower. The proprietor MADE our trip so friendly and full of advice on where to go, best tours, sites, where to get the best Onion Soup, baguette, etc. NO where did we encounter rude people, quite the opposite! French manners require saying Bonjour, or when I had a question or needed directions on the street, always started with si vous please.......see that's how bad my French is, but Manners Count! I am 60 years old and traveled with my 11 year old grand daughter! LOVE the city, the people, the flowers, the food. I'm betting the friend was a real pain in the arse (along with the herd of
stampeding throng of cruise ship passengers he was with)!

Posted by
389 posts

I am going to echo what people have already said, but I think it's important to do so. The French are friendly, though maybe not in the smiley way Americans are. If you make an effort to say "Bonjour" and a few other phrases in French, they are as nice as anyone. I saw that myself, and my husband, who spent a year in Paris as a child, says so. As to the people in Marseille.... if I were dealing with a bunch of tourists who expect me to be rude, they'd probably get exactly what they expect. Someone above said the people there are supposedly rude, but I had a friend who loves the people there, so YMMV. I think the golden rule, in France and in life, is to treat everyone the way we want to be treated.

Posted by
8055 posts

I'll make it 28 Bets... ;) I think the French in general are warm, kind, generous and wonderful.

Posted by
922 posts

I love that Bets did a tally, but these boards tend to be frequented by people who travel in a certain way and have probably been exposed at least a little to Rick Steves' travel philosophy and attitudes, which are very positive in general toward France and the French. It might be different over in the Cruise forums where people are part of a swarm of tourists hitting a city or town on a short fuse and perhaps impatient to get the most bang for their buck, which could result in a more demanding, less courteous approach - which in turn gets its own reward.

Posted by
518 posts

We are in Quimper, France, waiting for our train to Paris as I write this. We have traveled by car for two weeks. Never once have we encountered anyone rude. We always try to remember to greet people. Last night we were having trouble with our French menu. A lady at the next table quietly asked if she could help. Of course she could. She helped us pick something to eat, and we had a nice little conversation. She was very willing to help. I think that people who find the French or anyone else rude should remember the rules of politeness. Your attitude always comes back to you. Also, the further you go from highly tourist end areas, the less likely you will find English speakers.
If a French person were to go into the Dairy Queen in our small West Texas town, there are going to be a lot of stares. Hopefully, someone will be nice. It all depends on who you run into.

Posted by
8293 posts

I have been going to Paris just about annually for the past 25 years and I do remember a waiter shouting at me once because he was coming toward me with a heavy tray and I was in his path. I have no other recollection of "rudeness" by Parisians. On the other hand, I was in New York City last month for the first time in years and I was stunned at how rude, thoughtless and cold were many of the people I came in contact with. Except for one woman who insisted on giving us the correct change in coins so we could board a city bus. She actually said she was glad to help us so as to counteract any bad impression we may have had about her fellow New Yorkers. She GAVE us the money!

Posted by
132 posts

I'm going to keep it short here. To get the point, I can be a very difficult person (somewhat demanding and occassionally off-putting - just ask my wife) but when I travel I make it a point to learn some basic phrases of the country where I am traveling and I seek out local experiences. That stereotype - that French people are "rude" and don't like Americans kept me away from France for far too long. I am the last person you would expect to say this- I'm so against "political correctness" and I march to my own drum but France is truely a beautiful country with great food and lots to see. Go there!!! Learn basic language phrases and attempt to communicate with locals in their language. France is part of the European Union and lots has changed in the last few decades.

Posted by
3901 posts

http://www.canoe.ca/Travel/Europe/France/2013/06/19/pf-20912756.html Well, some people have a point about rudeness - they are giving out manuals to waiters and taxi drivers and people who come in contact with tourists on a daily basis on how NOT to be rude because they are getting a bad rep with travelers. That being said, we've had two visits to France and Paris, and nothing stands out in my head about anyone being rude...it is what you make of it and works both ways - if you're polite, they'll be polite, but if you are rude or an 'ugly' whichever nationality, you will get what you give.

Posted by
356 posts

Stereotypes are stereotypes, whether it be the rude Frenchman who dislikes Americans or the impatient and not terribly sophisticated cruise ship traveller. Regarding the latter, note that a good percentage of cruise ship travellers have previously made land vacations in Europe and spend time in Europe before or after their cruise. Regarding the former, note that there are cultural differences in the world and that generally people respond in kind to how they are approached. And those cultural differences exist in the US. I suspect I am more likely to be told hello as I walk down the street in the South, especially in smaller communities, than in New York City. Cultural differences exist in our country and across the world, but I think we too quickly perceive some of those differences, discussed above, as evidence of dislike or hostility. But not going to France because of stories that the French don't like Americans? No way. Go.

Posted by
6584 posts

Just keep a smile on your face, and it's difficult for the French to be anything but nice to you. On our last trip thru the Gard du Nord, no one in the tourist information booth would speak English. That's the train station where all the English tourists arrive the Eurostar. Now, that's French. And I remember a McDonald's restaurant 100 miles east of Paris staffed with young workers. We know they take English in high school, but not a one could would speak English well enough to even take my order. I just accept it as a quirk of the country, and why I prefer traveling in The Netherlands and Germany better.
Just look to be treated better out in the countryside better than in Paris.

Posted by
12 posts

I have been to France three times (1998, 2006, and 2013), and have never been treated rudely. I was just in Paris for 5 days (along with surrounding cities of Poissy, Fontainebleu and Versailles). Yes, Paris in June is mobbed with tourists, but I was not treated rudely by anyone. A few museum guards were a bit rude toward people, but this was true in Germany as well. I think being a museum guard is a rather thankless job, so I can understand why the guards get grumpy. The only minor problem I had was that I left my Rick Steves' Paris guidebook on a museum bench at Les Invalides. When I went back 5 min later, it was gone! Overall, not a big deal since I'd already photocopied pages from it, but I guess Rick's books are really a hot commodity. One thing I think really helps: speak French whenever possible. I'm not fluent, but I can converse in French well enough that I only resorted to English one time while in Paris (and that was b/c the hotel clerk greeted me in English). Even, if you don't know any French, learning a few simple phrases is courteous and shows respect for the culture. Also, do not dress like an "obvious" tourist. I try to wear comfortable clothes that are still acceptably stylish, so that I never stick out like a sore thumb.
Also, Parisians are a lot like New Yorkers. Their time is valuable to them, and they don't like to be interrupted with trivial requests. There are maps and signs all over Paris telling you where to go. But if you are REALLY lost or REALLY need help, usually you can find someone who will be glad to assist.

Posted by
922 posts

I deleted my comment because something was changed in the earlier comment I was responding to that made my comment not relevant as written.

Posted by
8055 posts

Thank you Rose, apology accepted. I decided to delete mine as well.

Posted by
1014 posts

This reminds me of a woman I knew that knew that I studied French. She told me she couldn't stand Paris and that it was the worst service she'd ever had and the food was terrible. I then found out she was there for 2 days and ate her meals at "tourist row" near Notre Dame de Paris. I figured it served her right for not planning a better trip. Not having a good meal in Paris. Laughable. It requires a bit of research She was rather rotund, so perhaps in her defense she didn't want to go far from her hotel.

Posted by
21 posts

I studied abroad in France in 2007 & had a great time. One month in Toulouse & one month in Limoux (small town). Super friendly people & made me feel right at home. Only concern is when we would go out with locals be careful of belongings if you're speaking English as they target Americans a bit more. We weren't as careful since we were with locals & I had a camera stolen. Overall, great summer & can't wait to go back. Wonderful experience!!

Posted by
5 posts

Poor Ron was certainly vilified for asking a simple question wasn't he? It was the bash America first crowd ready for action. If you go to France...have lots of cash and speak French and you will be fine. Pull out a credit card and you will be sneered it. My daughter ordered a hamburger in a not very fancy restaurant in Paris and the waiter said, oh my God. I guess nobody eats in macdonalds there either. Do I continue to go to France? Yes, however a tourist coming to the USA isn't told to learn english and fit it. It is very hypocritical in my opinion.

Posted by
3901 posts

Not that we make a habit of eating at McD's while in Europe, but it sometimes happens when in a hurry (and the free wifi has been a God send in a few situations)...but we quite liked the one near Versailles where you could order your food from the computers and it would be there when you hit the counter (no language barriers)...and who did we talk to while there eating? Fellow Canadians..lol!

Posted by
11450 posts

Donna don't you have a chip on your shoulder, its rather funny you felt it was the "bash the Americans " group that made the most comments, funny ,, cause most comments were made BY AMERICANS... I somehow think something got lost in translation for you dearie, why would a waiter say "oh my god" because your daughter ordered a hamburger,, perhaps its because they didn't have one on the menu and you and your daughter just assumed they could make one special for her? Typical of a certain type of tourist .

Posted by
8055 posts

Donna, no one has villified Ron. And no one is saying you have to learn French. Just some manners and a few polite words like: Hello, Please, Thank You, Goodbye, and Do You Speak English in French. Every visitor should learn those simple words for any country they visit, not just France.

Posted by
11450 posts

That's a good point, no one vilified Ron, he was asking about a coworkers opinion, and no one seemed to take offense at HIM for asking, perhaps you mean some of us "vilified" Rons friend.. not sure since it seems you don't actually seem to understand the thread or posts anyways.

Posted by
249 posts

Seven weeks in France, 3 in 2003/4 last year with nary a negative comment/attitude toward us. I worked on my French for months in preparation, and it paid off. Once I had a conversation with a young French woman-she practiced her English/I, my French. It was an amazing time. We love it there.

Posted by
798 posts

Every visitor should learn those simple words for any country they visit, not just France. And the objective for us EU citizens is that we should be able speak 3 of the official EU languages. Our native language and two others at level A2, which is sufficient to carry out day to day tasks in the language. Both my kids are working on their French A2 right now, so there is more French being spoken at home right now than German or English and I struggling :-(

Posted by
68 posts

I found the French to be incredibly polite. Paris was my first non-USA experience as an adult and I felt welcome and safe during my travels. My opinion, if you are polite, the kindness will be returned. My understanding is that the French (or many Europeans for that matter), will treat you with greater kindness if you can demonstrate respect for their culture (please and thank you, learn a few words in their language, soft tone to your voice etc..)

Posted by
68 posts

I found the French to be incredibly polite. Paris was my first non-USA experience as an adult and I felt welcome and safe during my travels. My opinion, if you are polite, the kindness will be returned. My understanding is that the French (or many Europeans for that matter), will treat you with greater kindness if you can demonstrate respect for their culture (please and thank you, learn a few words in their language, soft tone to your voice etc..)

Posted by
68 posts

I found the French to be incredibly polite. Paris was my first non-USA experience as an adult and I felt welcome and safe during my travels. My opinion, if you are polite, the kindness will be returned. My understanding is that the French (or many Europeans for that matter), will treat you with greater kindness if you can demonstrate respect for their culture (please and thank you, learn a few words in their language, soft tone to your voice etc..)

Posted by
68 posts

I found the French to be incredibly polite. Paris was my first non-USA experience as an adult and I felt welcome and safe during my travels. My opinion, if you are polite, the kindness will be returned. My understanding is that the French (or many Europeans for that matter), will treat you with greater kindness if you can demonstrate respect for their culture (please and thank you, learn a few words in their language, soft tone to your voice etc..)

Posted by
68 posts

I found the French to be incredibly polite. Paris was my first non-USA experience as an adult and I felt welcome and safe during my travels. My opinion, if you are polite, the kindness will be returned. My understanding is that the French (or many Europeans for that matter), will treat you with greater kindness if you can demonstrate respect for their culture (please and thank you, learn a few words in their language, soft tone to your voice etc..)

Posted by
8293 posts

Joseph, you can delete 4 of the 5 posts you made. Your point has been made.

Posted by
17 posts

Just back from 10th trip to France. I speak French, my husband doesn't, but we have no complaints. Our innkeeper (at a gite where we spent a week in the Dordogne area) offered some of her insights on American tourists. Americans are some of her favorite guests, but they tend to take liberties, rearranging furniture in their room, setting up a picnic on the outdoor tables without asking permission, arriving late (or early) with no apologies. Her least favorite guests come from Asia and former Soviet bloc. One man shocked her by clipping his fingernails in the hallway!

Posted by
250 posts

Been to France alone, with husband and with our three sons - five trips total. Follow the Golden Rule: Treat everyone you meet as you would like to be treated if they approached you in your hometown. You will be amazed at what happens: we have gotten "off the beaten path" suggestions, help with directions, tips for sights, etc. All good as far as we are concerned. Honestly, your co-worker may have been thinking of old stereotypes - truly, we have never had a problem with rudeness on the part of the French. Sadly, we have, however, seen Americans being very impolite - demanding, entitled, rude. P>S> you will love the Normandy Beaches. We used a tour guide, Danielle, for a day we still talk about. www.normandyours.com. She was Spielberg's driver when he was scouting for Saving Private Ryan and we saw a lot of off the beaten path sights. Normandy is truly one of the most moving places I've ever been to. Best wishes.