Who says the French are rude? Not in my experience.

I just got back from 2 weeks in Provence & Paris, our first trip to France. I am mystified as to how the French people got this bad rap for being rude.
To a person...nobody, not one single person was rude, impatient, snooty, or any of those other attributes they are supposedly famous for. On the contrary, everyone was friendly, accommodating, patient, warm and generous. I must say my wife and I were prepared for this trip and made the effort to use our caveman French. That mainly got us some blank looks. But by being polite and using the niceties like "s'il vous plaît", "merci", "bonjour monsieur" etc, we almost always coaxed a smile from people faces.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Oddly enough, the whole frigging world is the same way. It's getting almost impossible to find buttheads anymore.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

I know. There has been a plague of niceness. It's sickening

Posted by Tom
San Francisco
2 posts

I found the "secret" is to be polite and at least TRY to speak French to people in France. Demanding people speak English in France would be like a French person coming to the US and demanding we speak French. Get one of Rick's French Phrase Books (http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=catalog&parent_id=164) and figure out the question you need to ask, and go for it! Usually, the person you're speaking with will realize you can't speak French and will speak to you in English. But they will appreciate the effort.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

No, no, no! The French aren't rude...it's the Icelanders...they're rude as hell!
:)

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

Didn't we just have this discussion last week?

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

Seems to rise repeatedly , like Vampires in Transylvania

Posted by Ray
Saint Helens, OR, USA
208 posts

Just my 2 cents worth. I visit the helpline as often as I do Europe.

Posted by VS
Palo Alto, CA, United States
556 posts

Even though this topic has come up a lot of times, I am always glad for the opportunity to help dispel the notion that the French are rude. Most of the Americans who say that the French are rude have never been to France, or even outside the U.S., as far as I can tell. My wife and I were last in France in 2010, and we witnessed no hint of stereotypical French rudeness (which was consistent with three prior visits). We found the cafe service was especially good, especially in Paris. Watching a cafe server go about his/her business is very entertaining; they are true professionals.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

Ray, you should try doing both more often. Much more fun.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

I appreciate your post Ray. Thank you. I'm glad you had a good time in France and for new Helpline readers it's good to hear.

Posted by Brendon
Auburn, Washington, USA
497 posts

I found the French super friendly and helpful. My mother has bad hips and back and couldn't climb the steps up to the Arc De Triomphe and was upset. So we politely asked the elevator person if all 3 of us could ride up the elevator together and she gave us a huge smile and said, "Of course, no problem at all."
she even said have a marvelous day and talked with us all the way to the top and even let us ride down again. There was also a nice Italian restaurant on the Champs Ellyese and the manager was so friendly and funny. He flirted with my mom and even gave me small French flag on a sitck for free. I love the French!!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4875 posts

The French are very rude. Especially in Paris. I keep going back hoping to find someone nice. ;-)

Posted by Brendon
Auburn, Washington, USA
497 posts

Andrea, maybe you went to the Paris in las Vegas

Posted by Brendon
Auburn, Washington, USA
497 posts

In each country I have been to I found the tourists to be the rudest.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4875 posts

Brendon, my comment was a joke. Didn't you see the winky face? I love Paris. That's why I keep going back. I've never been to Las Vegas and don't have any desire to go there.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Ray, Perhaps you've just experienced the new French program, Do You Speak Touriste. Government and tourism agencies in France have launched this new program to correct the perception of "rudeness" in France, and make the country as welcoming for visitors as possible. Here's one story on it: www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/do-you-speak-touriste-paris-tries-to-shed-its-legendary-rudeness/article12667488/ I was just in Paris in early July, and I also found the people to be excellent hosts. Cheers!

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1057 posts

Ray, I hope you'll do a trip report. Would love to hear about where you stayed, what you liked, etc. There is now a trip report section of the Helpline.

Posted by Wanda
Greensboro, NC, USA
53 posts

Here's what I love about this site....I'm going to Paris exactly one month from today and am visiting the Helpline and Trip Reports everyday to gather any information about France and Paris I possibly can. And I love the freedom of polite expression! Avoir un merveilleux après-midi!

Posted by George
Canada
831 posts

Arrogant maybe, but not rude. "In 1945, France was on the losers' side, but this reality has long been masked by the political speeches of General de Gaulle and François Mitterrand: they both maintained, in their own way, the idea that it remained a great power promised to an exceptional destiny," the historian Christophe Prochasson told Le Monde. "After they left office, the French continued to live on that belief." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/opinion/sunday/dowd-goodbye-old-world-bonjour-tristesse.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

Posted by colleen
Mill creek, Washington, United States
9 posts

My Friends French Au pair says it is actually the people in Paris that are rude not the French in General. I have to agree with her observations.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

It's always my friend's au pair, my business partner's daughter, my neighbour's brother-in-law, isn't it? Could we hear from someone who has PERSONALLY suffered rudeness from a French man or woman for absolutely no reason whatsoever?

Posted by David
Chicago
42 posts

I have been to France 6 times after living there for almost a year and found the French to be a bit arrogant but not rude. I agree with my fellow posters. However, my business partner's daughter just returned from a trip to Europe where she spent the day in Strasbourg and was literaly kicked out of two restaurants as she and her friend did not speak French. She says they were not being rude and at least said Bon jour and parley vous anglais?
Anyone have a similar experience in that town?

Posted by Jennifer
Denver, US
142 posts

I was in France for 10 days in 2009 and the people I encountered for help were extremely helpful and kind. I was very surprised as I went with a perception that they are not.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

David, if it is true that your friend's daughter & companion got "kicked out of" a restaurant in Strasbourg because they could not speak French they should have gone to the nearest police station to make a complaint. Frankly I would need to hear all the details of that story before I would believe it!

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

Sorry David, I don't believe your partner's daughter's story for one second. Especially.. twice. If it happened at all, there's much more to the story than what you've been told. No restaurant is going to kick someone out because they don't speak French. That is beyond, beyond ridiculous.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Strasbourg? It's more of a multinational city than Singapore, Beirut, or Shanghai. Stand on a corner and count the languages that pass by. Hard to believe it would happen once, let alone twice. And in a place that makes money off the people that come in to feed their faces? Give that kid the third degree. Something's happened that she didn't fess up about.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2699 posts

As to the international flavour of Strasbourg, just look at the array of flags as you leave the train station. In the mid-90s my first time to Strasbourg time my French was next to nothing, I used German instead.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

Seat of the European Parliament-- I doubt the story too. My son lived and worked in Strasbourg for a year. He found the people reserved but very nice.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Okay, Norma, if you really insist: Marseille. 1969. Wee hours. Got my butt beat to a pulp in a bar fight. Obviously through no fault of my own. Satisfied?

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
249 posts

http://news.yahoo.com/paris-ramps-tourist-security-amid-chinese-concerns-203429637.html "France is the world's most-visited country and solid tourism revenues are a bright spot in its depressed economy. But reports of pickpockets and muggers targeting Chinese tourists have soared of late, tarnishing the French capital's image as a favored destination for love-struck couples and high-end shoppers." "Staff at the Louvre went on strike in April over a surge in pickpockets, shutting the world's most-visited museum for a day."

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

C'mon Ed! That's assault, not common rudeness. You're changing the discussion.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

@Edgar, you need to read further. Those aren't French people targeting the tourists but gangs from Eastern Europe.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

I are not. Just didn't give all the details. It was twixt us and the Brits. The French joined late and split their selfs up to keep it even. Had they not been rude they would have all piled in on our side.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

I've spent 7 yrs of my life in Paris and it is not my experience that Parisians are rude. Quite the contrary. I've seen many, many examples of rude Americans in Paris and I am sure they are the ones that come home and say Parisians are rude. I've seen such blatant rudeness from American tourists that I've actually gone up to the French person and apologized to them. I still cringe at the last one I witnessed. Can't change the mindset of ignorant people.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Sorry, there HAS to be more to the business partner's daughter story that meets the eye. I simply can't imagine being kicked out for not speaking French. Twice. At different places. Nope, something's wrong. I've been to Alsace every year for many, including Strasbourg, and across the river in Germany, and throughout the Vosges and into Lorraine. I've interacted with hundreds of people there. Never would I expect any restauranter to throw out polite paying customers. It don't stand up. Makes a good dig-at-the-French-I-only-eat-Freedom-Fries story. Or actually, not very good.

Posted by Sue Ann
Seattle, WA, USA
18 posts

When I lived in Provence in 1966-67, I sometimes found people in Paris to be arrogant and/or rude, especially in contrast to Provence. However, on return trips since 2000, I was amazed at how polite, helpful and accommodating they are. A story from the 1960s, as an example:
My French wasn't great, but it was passable, and I was in France studying French. At a Paris hotel, in the morning, when I was asked what I wanted and replied "Un chocolat chaud," the surprised server queried, "Un journal??" Now, the only choices were café, thé, or chocolat chaud, but he continued to refuse to understand my rendition of "chocolat chaud" with about 3-4 repeats of this interaction! I was getting close to tears, but I'm sure he helped me improve my pronunciation!

Posted by Kim
Paris
544 posts

@ED -- too hilarious. Those rude French who didn't join in the fight on your side!!!!

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

The whole premise of the "people from country zzzz are ccccc" is an egregious stereotyping that, frankly, annoys me often here on Helpline. I think many travelers want to have full labels they can stick to whole populations of countries they visit, only to seek confirmation bias once they arrive.