I was thinking about traveling to Paris in Aug but I wasn't sure if they were friendly to Americans or not. I've heard from some they are, and from some they aren't. What do you think?
Yes, the French, and even Parisians, are friendly to Americans, especially if you learn a few words of French - bonjour, merci, parlais-vous anglais, and the like. Honestly, I've never encountered any of the so-called French hostility or coldness towards Americans. Mostly, I have found people who really want to talk and learn about each others' cultures - even where there might not be agreement (politics, et al.)
Paris is wonderful, you will not be sorry if you go. But learn about the place and the people. Start with Rick's Paris city guide, then read others, particularly those that tell you how to deal with the restaurants and waiters, shopkeepers, etc.
Be polite, do some research and you will have a wonderful time.
The French are like most people only more so. They are perfectly friendly and helpful. They may not like your government but then they rarely like theirs either. They are particular about your accent if you try to speak French but they are honestly trying to help you say it correctly. It is important to they how French is spoke by the French so they assume it is important to you too. They will go out of their way to help you and even walk you there but they like for you to begin a conversation with "Pardon" or Excuse me. If you add a "How are you today they simply glow." You need to know that I say that in spite of the fact that I am not a Francophile in the least bit.
Heather, I went to Paris for the first time 5 years ago and I will never forget it. It meet all of my expections and more it is simply beautiful! I can not wait to go back again someday. The French were not at all rude. Linda
It will be warm in Aug -- how long of a stay? As previously suggested understand the city of Paris and their transportation system which is excelent. You have enough time to really plan this trip. Depending on your lenght of visit you may not see all that you wish -- this is normal
should you go to paris...well its a personal decision but I say GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Went in 2004 it has always been my dream to see paris and it was even better than I imagined.
My partner could have cared less and ended up just loving the city!
Heather, the "French are unfriendly to Americans" generalization is an untrue myth similar to the "France is dirty" and "France is expensive" legendary untruths. Our family of four has traveled to France three times in the last five years spending a total of 10 weeks there. In all that time, I clearly remember only TWICE that a French person revealed a little frustration, and that was because I was clearly a goober who couldn't make up my mind about a purchase or menu item. Commenter Charles is correct about the language...it's very important you at least try out some bad French when communicating. They appreciate the effort and it sets the tone correctly. If you start speaking English immediately and assume you're being understood, that is a bad move. Consider the reaction to a French traveler in Oklahoma who starts every question in French. 'Nuff said. And here's the clincher..they don't CARE if you're American. Only Americans are concerned with this.
I have experienced rudeness from one Frenchman, a waiter. Otherwise, the French I met were very friendly. One group helped me when I fell one night in London. Even if ALL Frenchmen were rude, I would still go to Paris at least once. I can't imagine passing up the Louvre or Notre Dame because I was worried about someone being rude.Go and have a great time.
I've been to 7 European countries, and the Parisians were by far the friendliest. Two stories:
On my first day there, I met up w/two gals I'd seen on the train down from A'dam. We got lost looking for Notre Dame, so I asked a twentysomething Frenchwoman for directions. She took us to her family's cafe and gave us free soda & iced tea, and then took us on a personal tour of Notre Dame (we were close enough to walk). Then she had all of us over to the restaurant for a free dinner on our last night in the city.
Also, on the way to the Arch de Triomphe I dropped off some film at an FNAC to get developed. On the way back, I picked up the pictures and left. About 5 minutes later I reached into my pocket and found that my wallet was gone! I ran back to the FNAC, figuring I was out of luck. As soon as I got there, the staff recognized me and handed me back my wallet.
That was my experience in Paris in 2003. I'm flying in there next month, and I can't wait!
First, I never tell someone not to go anywhere. If you have an interest, you have to go and see for yourself. All experiences are different. Having said that, I must confess I have no interest in ever going back to Paris. I met 2 exceptionally nice people and way more less than polite people. The 2 nice people were fun memories and one was there when the waiter in a cafe tried to rob the group I was with. He definitely came to our defense and explained to us our mistakes. The other showed me and my group of students around the city (a private tour if you will). We also had a couple of places refuse to sell us phone cards and stamps because we didn't speak French and a man peed on my shoe in the Metro.
All in all I did enjoy France, but not Paris. I hope that people won't judge the US on LA or NY, so I try not to judge all the people of France on those who were unkind to me in a major city. I will probably go back someday just to see if that was a bad week.
Go and forget that bad press. I'm leaving for my 5th trip in two weeks and taking my granddaughter and daughters for their first time. I never wanted to go but my husband had loved spending time there when he was in the service so I went grudgingly and fell in love with the city. As for rudeness - we were trying to find our way to Sacre Coeur looking at a little map every couple of blocks and three times people asked us where we were headed and gave us directions and that was far from the only time it happened. There may have been a snotty waiter or two but we never noticed it. Just learn those polite phrases and use them over and over with a smile and you will have the time of your life. There is that old saying See Naples and Die but you could easily say the same thing about Paris.
We just returned from a 2-week trip to France, including 3 days in Paris, and did not encounter any rudeness. (In fact since returning home I've noticed that our grocery clerks, etc. here are more surly than similar service people we encountered in Paris.) Several people went out of their way to help us with directions and other problems. A little politeness helps ease the way (we are, after all, guests in their country): we would always say "Bonjour Monsieur/Madame" upon entering a shop and "Merci" and "Au revoir" when leaving, and I would also try my (limited) French before asking if someone spoke English (or the person would hear my awful accent, take pity on me and switch to English on his/her own). We had a wonderful time and I can't wait to go back to France.
After two trips to Paris, my opinion remains unchanged. If you can only visit one city in Europe, make it Paris! I am especially fond of the Rue Cler area, well touted by Rick Steves, but a charming little village atmosphere in the heart of the city. The people were lovely, the city clean and just oozing history. The sites are incredible. A friendly smile and a friendly bon jour from you will be returned with kindness. Go! Have a wonderful time. I'll bet your first trip will not be your last. Bon voyage!
In two trips to Paris and the Loire Valley, we have never met the "surly Parisian" one hears about. We've met only kindness and helpfulness, even with very halting French. If yours is halting or nonexistent, just apologize and ask if they can help you in English, and most of the time they can and are happy to. Have a good trip!
Paris is so incredibly romantic, you can't help feel it wherever you go there. To my mind, it is the most beautiful big city in the world. Having said that, let me give you a bit of a different perspective. My wife and I went there in '97 and 2000 and loved it both times. However, Parisians do tend to be more reserved than people in the countryside; they tend to be more formal, better dressed and in a bigger hurry (like all big city folks). So, after seeing the gorgeous sights twice (with and without children), when we went back to Europe in '04, we left Paris out of our plans. We like Burgundy, Dordogne and Provence even more, and the food is often more reliable (and cheaper) in the countryside. So, on this year's trip, we will again bypass Paris, but concentrate on the villages of France, Italy and Switzerland. All that said, if you've never been to "The City of Lights," you must go. And, Rue Cler (7th Arrondisement) is a wonderful area. Have a great time! -Walter
I was stationed in Germany I went to Paris in 1969 and hated it. DeGaul era. We finally planned a trip and my wife haggled me into returning there. Totally different. Guess where we are going this year again? Yep, different times, old stories that are no longer true.
Everyone should go to Paris. My last trip was in April & am planning another in Oct. I've been 10 times in 15 yrs with only a few trips to other places in between. I keep telling myself that I have to go somewhere else, but soon after returning from Paris, I find myself planning another trip. I have met some rudeness - twice from Les Invalides staff. It's unpleasant especially if you're tired, but then so probably are they, so I just get over it. Most Parisians are very nice & helpful - I've had people stop to ask if they can help when they see me pull out my map book. By the way, if you do go, stop at a newsagent & buy a Paris par Arrondissement map book. They're only around 5 Euros, pocket sized & extremely useful.
Although I am Canadian, I have travelled with 3 Rick Steves tours with Americans, 2X in France and once in Italy. The guides were excellent teaching us the etiquette of Europeans, who are much more polite than North Americans. What is perceived as rudeness and stand-offishness is actually politeness and formality. They respect good manners - not overwhelming friendliness when we are not yet a friend.
I agree with the person who said that North American service is much less helpful than European.
Paris is the one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I have travelled to 10 Canadian provinces and 48 states in the U.S, also London, Rome, Venice, Florence, many Caribbean islands and Paris. The architecture, parks, cafes, bistros, boutiques are all unique and amazing. My husband came with me to Paris in March and loved it! I love it so much that I am returning in two weeks.
Don't listen to negatives, find out for yourself, tourism is the No.1 industry in France for a reason.
Paris has so many treasures! By all means, go! My husband and I spent two weeks there in late April into May and feel we maximized our time using Rick Steves' guidebook. Learn some basic expressions in French (Rick has a pocket guide) and remember your salutations and goodbyes, please and thank you; they will help you tremendously. We did experience some anti-American sentiment and our share of surly waiters, but we also encountered some interesting and warm people eager to share their heritage. Let them help you discover Paris! Don't worry about what people think and just have a good time. (Travel tip: the chocolates at La Mere de la Famille on the Rue Cler are phenomenal!)
just returned from france, including 3 days in paris....it was wonderful....i would highly recommend the rue cler area....everyone was friendly and we ran into no problems once we mastered the metro....the only questionable area we ran into was near sacre coeur...i did not find the city rude or dirty, it was wonderful....le bosquet and le notre were excellent and near rue cler....we stayed at hotel turenne and it was fine, the hotelier was especially helpful in helping us to cancel a reservation and set up a navette...GO!
I've only been to Paris during the colder months, but by starting every conversation with my limited 5-word French vocabulary seems to open all the doors to Paris.
During our first trip in November, the RER was on strike and we sat on an unmoving train for an hour. Some folks came over and directed us to another train that was leaving for downtown. When we arrived at Chatalet to transfer (with way too many bags - but that's another story) a uniformed metro cop saw we needed help and guided us through two more transfers to our final stop.
When we arrived at the stop, several locals helped us up the stairs with our bags and pointed the way to our hotel.
The next week's of encounters with the locals were all the same - gracious, helpful and quite willing to indulge this non-French speaking couple - as long as we led off with our fractured French!
Just go ! And find out for yourself. I loved it. That's a myth that the French don't like Americans.
There are friendly and rude people in the US and you'll find the same everywhere.
I was in Paris last fall and was so surprised at how friendly everyone was. As long as you try a few french phrases people seem to be accomadating. I was stopped at notre dame and had to listen to a group of frenchmen going on and on and on about how much they loved texas and the grand canyon!!!
Paris a a wonderful city and an unforgettable experience. The French are friendly and kind to you if you are friendly and kind to them. Stayed there a week and loved every minute of it. Remember Lafayette? We owe a lot to the French who went bankfupt to finance our Revolution and we should treat them with the respect they deserve and let them know that all Americans are not French bashers. Your life will be incomplete if you don't go to Paris at least once!
I've haven't been to Paris, yet, but Debbie from Canada is right. It's easy to mistakes someone else's attempt to be polite and proper with coldness and rudeness.
Not everyone in the U.S. speaks English. Watch how a lot us us -- clerks, waiters, etc. -- behave when somone addresses them in badly accented and halting English. You will see a lot of behavior that can be called rude and offensive.
I live in the middle of North Carolina, which is about as middle American as you can get. Yet, if I walk around a local mall, I'll hear Spanish, Urdu, Hindi, maybe some Russian, French and German, and the occasional Brit. Most of those people are not tourists, yet a lot of people don't have the patience or the will to deal with them politely. Before we get upset about Parisians who are annoyed with tourists who insist that everyone needs to adapt to them, we ought to remember that a lot of us do the same thing.
There is a campaign in Paris right now to be especially friendly to tourists! But even without it, the French are warm, welcoming tourists to anyone with manners.
I've been to Paris twice in the last 2 years and am going again in September. I've fallen in LOVE with Paris. So YES - do go to Paris! In my past visits I've only run into a couple of people who were rude - most people were extremely helpful and friendly. The most important thing is to learn a few words of French (I only know a very little "tourist" French but it works.) And be extremely polite and not demanding. I tried several different language CD's to learn some French but like the Berlitz Rush Hour French the best. I listen to it multiple times, even when I'm asleep. As to the timing, many French take their vacations in August, so some smaller places may be closed (or crowded with tourists). Go and enjoy.