Just to let everyone know what Rick Steve's travelers already know....The French were wonderfully warm and receptive on our trip this month. We spent 3 days in Nice, 2 Normandy and 5 in Paris. Everyday someone asked us if we needed help when they saw us struggling with a map, trying to interpret a menu, figuring out the train schedule, ect. I even had 2 sales clerks flag me down to return my change that I didn't stay long enough to take AND one supermarket clerk stop checking out a local to go find me what I was looking for on a shelf! I'm doing my best to help debunk the bad rap they get. We all know that we've run into plenty of "ugly Americans"!
What a Great post!! Thank you for saying it. We agree absolutely. We have run into unpleasant French people but far more nice ones than not. We run into unpleasant Americans here everyday!
Well said, Cathy. Truth be told, I'd be more concerned about ugly Americans than any possible rudeness from Europeans. It's amazing how far you can go with a little humility and a little time to pick up some basic phrases in whatever language the natives speak. Remember, we're both guests in foreign territory and ambassadors of our native land. This world doesn't need more ethnocentrism and needless nationalist chest-pounding!
I would agree with the previous responses. I had a true French gentleman carry my suitcase down two flights of stairs in one of the Metro stations. I was late and struggling to make it down the stairs. It was my first European trip and it taught me 2 valuable lessons on traveling...
1) Expect the unexpected.
2) Don't overpack!
Echoing the other posts. We thought the French people we met a few years ago on our trip were wonderful. We rode the train from Paris to Milan with a father and son who made great efforts to communicate with us. We ended up exchanging email addresses and hope to meet up with them again when we return to France next month. As a teacher, every time a student starts to speak ill of "the French" I relate my personal experience and hope it does a little to change their minds.
I found the French were wonderful, even the waiters...I thought where is all the rudeness I heard about.
The people are warm and friendly. Just attempt a little french, be polite and they open up.
agree w/ you all, particularly Mike on the "ugly Americans"
Went to London and Paris last year and we were a bit apprehensive about the language barrier and all, but we ended up having a blast thanks to the wonderful, friendly locals we met.
They were helpful, patient and even taught us a few helpful phrases. Can't wait to go back this summer!