Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   For those of you defending the French and their "manners" (

caroltis May 22nd, 2007 06:41 AM

For those of you defending the French and their "manners"
We just returned from a trip to Provence, Villefranche and Tuscany. Before we left I entered into a discussion on one of the forums about how uncomfortable the French made us feel our last trip to Paris. So many Fodorites defended the French people and gave examples of first hand experiences of their kindness and friendliness. Well...we didn't go to Paris this time but I must say that the residents of the villages and towns we explored for 2 weeks were as helpful, cheerful and friendly as anyone in our hospitable southern hometown. Can't say enough about how well we were treated and it truly had nothing to do with changing the way we interacted with them. Just as we tried in Paris on the last trip we greeted those we encountered with a Bonjour Madame/Monsieur and a Sil vous plait and a Merci. This go around it worked and was a most pleasant experience and I hope we Americans offer up the same hospitality to them when they visit here.

PalenQ May 22nd, 2007 06:48 AM

kind of like New York City vs rural America

nbodyhome May 22nd, 2007 06:48 AM

Glad it was a good trip for you. :)

I have overall had very good experiences with France and the people there. Some rudeness, but no more than anywhere else. The rudest person I encountered on this past trip was a US Airways flight attendant, an American flight attendant!
Overall, I consider the French to be warm people.

kenderina May 22nd, 2007 07:04 AM

I think people in big cities (no matter where) are stressed , tired, always in a hurry. I don't think they mean to be rude, even sometimes they look like that :) People in small cities and villages lives a more relaxed life..and so they behave with tourist also in a relaxed manner :)

thereyet May 22nd, 2007 07:55 AM

Anywhere you go, peoples level of acceptance of others is inversly proportional to the number of things they are trying to do at a time. The busier they are the less they tolerate. The simpler the life the greater the acceptance of others. So I definitely agree with others comparison of urban vs rural attitudes. Not that there aren't simple urban lifestyles or complicated rural mindsets, they just aren't the norm.


Dukey May 22nd, 2007 07:59 AM

Oh, how I wish it were true that living in a rural area automatically means greater acceptance and tolerance.

robjame May 22nd, 2007 08:05 AM

Great to hear that Carol - our experience as well.

thereyet May 22nd, 2007 09:02 AM

Hi Dukey, I hope I didn't make it sound so black and white, that was not my intention.


normal1983 May 22nd, 2007 09:10 AM

We just returned from the Normandy area and Paris and I think that for the most part the people we encountered in both areas were very nice and helpful. I do think that the people in the Normandy area were just a tad warmer but again as was said before big cities just stress people out more.

lemidi May 22nd, 2007 10:06 AM

I completely agree with the above thoughts about big city more stress and such but an additional thought: with the stress of a big city like Paris the citizens also get more tourists, all day, every day year round. In the provinces where there are less tourists the citizens are genuinely interested in interacting with the tourists. They are excited to meet new and foreign people and are not put off by a language barrier (even though it is greater outside of Paris), people asking for directions, people entering their shops etc...All this is old hat to citizens of large cities like Paris and frankly is probably annoying after a while as would be for anyone who encountered tourists all day.

caroltis May 23rd, 2007 06:42 AM

And actually my first visit to New York City was this past December and I was expecting that "big city" gruff personality from most New Yorkers and I couldn't have been more wrong...maybe these folks truly have mellowed out a little!

trapperP May 23rd, 2007 07:00 AM

Attn: Caroltis

Would really like to have a chat with you re Ville Franche sur mer AM. I spent two years there as a young sailor - I was an FT(M) aboard the USS Springfield (CLG-7)1962 to 1964 while she was homeported at Ville Franche. Just something about being an 18 year old sailor homeported on the French Riviera that makes for some long-lasting memories. I can still recall all the bars, etc that were along the 02 level, 'Queenies' - the Hotel de Paris, etc. Wonder how much has changed in 40+ years?
And really, these people are not 'French' but are 'Nicoise'- basically more Italian than French. And I found it strange and amusing that they don't much like the rest of the French, especailly the Parisians!
Trying to plan for and set up a cruise this fall and hopefully will be able to get back to Ville franche or to Nice. Wonder if I will recognise anything?
Best regards,

marlynek May 23rd, 2007 07:11 AM

I sometimes think the response one gets is directly related to the attitude one has; humble, friendly, hopeful usually begets friendly and helpful.
We find this is true in NY as well as Paris. In fact, I think people in the US are less kindand patient to people who don't "talk American" than people in other countries are to us, who speak ONLY English!

PatrickLondon May 23rd, 2007 07:40 AM

There is also a difference between people running their own businesses and people in bureaucratic jobs. The French themselves complain about the failings of people in the latter:

lemidi May 23rd, 2007 07:52 AM

I could not agree with you more. I believe Americans are much less tolerant of foreigners. I can only imagine the scenario... In any city USA a Japanese or a French tourist walks into a shop or restaurant speaking no English to the young clerk behind the counter and inquires about something. How kindly would our American clerk respond and what kind of conversation would take place amongst his or her colleagues behind the back of this tourist?

Also, one must remember that when they are travelling in a foreign country they must humble themselves to the natives and they will be well received anywhere.

mlaffitte May 23rd, 2007 08:24 AM

An American friend who recently moved from Paris to London was telling me the other day how much he misses the "bonjour monsieur/madame" that greets you whenever you enter a shop in France, and the "au revoir, monsieur/madame" when you leave. Even when you get on an elevator, total strangers often greet you and then wish you "bonne journee" or "bonne soiree" when you get off. True, it is more of a reflex than a heartfelt expression, but I think there is something fundamentally good about people according recognition and dignity to each other as they go about their daily lives. It makes you feel you are living in a civilized place, as indeed you are.

waring May 23rd, 2007 09:03 AM

I speak the Queen's English with a slight south eastern accent, and have had occasion to adopt an American accent to be understood.

Two coffees=too kawfees in New York
A bottle of water= abaddlawadda in LA

PalenQ May 23rd, 2007 09:50 AM

wazz that

waring May 23rd, 2007 10:40 AM


georgiegirl May 23rd, 2007 11:08 AM

I moved from a big city in another country to a small city in the southeast of USA. I got to the point of smiling/nod/hi to people in passing. I have to restrain myself from doing so when I am in Europe. Before internet, I behaved normally. Nothing happened. Now I am concious of these behaviors after reading many posts here and there that by doing so they think that one is silly or crazy. There was one review of a hotel in Switzerland. The reviewer gave very good report on the hotel except for the fact that the receptionist gave her the look like she is crazy to smile at her (receptionist) when passing. That made me looked back to my past trips. I had better expereinces outside of Paris. They are nicer and more polite. However, some bad encounters came from non-French in Paris.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:35 AM.