French Etiquette Question

Jun 8th, 2010, 01:40 PM
  #21  
sap
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,049
Pvoyageuse: You bring up an interesting point: The line between politeness and friendliness. I guess one leads to other -- but only with time (some people needing more time than others).
sap is offline  
Jun 8th, 2010, 01:42 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 638
I've always said 'bonjour' and 'au revoir' when entering and leaving a shop in France but it is a matter of acknowledgement not an interruption.

On my first trip to Paris 10 years ago I asked a shopkeeper a question regarding something I was looking for, she in turn just looked at me and gave no answer, so I asked again if she had the product and again she continued to look at me but offered no response, finally after a minute or so, felt like a lifetime to me, she said 'you must address me and say bonjour madame' wow, was I ever embarrassed however it has stuck and 9 trips later I've never forgotten.
Susan
Suspaul is offline  
Jun 8th, 2010, 01:47 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,505
Sap : Palenque introduced the "friendliness" concept into the discussion. IMO, friendliness and politeness are two very different things. You can be polite without being friendly (with your boss or coworkers or doctor or dentist or butcher or florist) - and friendly without being polite, but this is another story
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Jun 8th, 2010, 02:12 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
suspaul.. had the same incident many years ago.. my god.. one learns quickly. I had even started my sentence with, "pardon, excuse-moi,madame,-- mais.. où....??

Silence, stare and then the "Bonjour, Mdme".

Wow. I wish I had been TOLD about this. It never ocurred to me I was being rude ( this was in G. Lafayette).
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 06:57 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
pvoy - yes about the faux friendliness but i guess i really am talking about customer service and that is what some large French retailers wanted American consultants to advise them on - how to make their staff have better customer service

Now suspaul's experience i think explains why some companies find their staff's customer service to be rather turning off customers -



Now this is a great example of the lousy customer service French companies or at least some were hiring American consultants to combat.

it's not so much friendliness but sheer UN-friendliness that IME you are much more likely to encounter in a French store than in an American store.

In part i might theorize that French workers after a few years simply cannot be fired for things like being sour and dour - American workers can. French workers i believe are good for life in their jobs barring some gross gross negligence. If wrong please correct me.
Palenque is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 08:36 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 19
My husband and I went to London and Paris in '07. I was telling my husband how "snotty" British men were. Always looking down their nose when talking to us. Regardless whether they are taller or shorter than us! British women are just outright "angry". Scary sometimes. Not all but most. I was not offended or anything, just find it funny.

Paris just took it at a whole new level! My thought on this was that its the "nature" of french people to be alwys in "bad mood" most specially in retail. Story to tell: I was excited to go to the LV store at Champs Elysees. So we went and left after 10 minutes because I got "lectured" by this salesperson when I asked if I could see the handbag behind her. She was angry that I even spoke to her!!! I was so depressed after. When we got back to our hotel, the concierge was friendly so I told him what happened at LV. He told me the salespeople there are really full of it. He told me how it works at the big LV store in Champs Elysees. Anyway, my husband convinced me to go back since this is the closest to our hotel. So, went back to the LV at Champs Elysees, looked for the person with a "sash", assigned a salesperson to me who didn't really pay that much attention to me since she wanted to help this Japanese people who interrupted us...took me 15 minutes and told the salesperson I wll get all of them, 7 of them. She was shocked and right away shifted her attention to me instead of the japanese girl who was still thinking over 1 bag and offered us drinks. I asked her to have all the bags sent to our hotel. Of course, she said with a smile. How funny that experience!

When we went to Cartier at Champs Elysees, the salespeople there are much friendlier. The funny thing, I was more intimidated to go to Cartier than LV but it was more pleasant after all at Cartier than LV.

I think the problem in retail anywhere in the world is that they tend to be nicer to ones who come in "flashy" because assuming these are the ones with money, of course. But a real good retail person know otherwise.

A Gucci salesperson told me once that she picked up on this person who came in in old jumpsuit, cigarette on one hand and with just a wallet. No one wanted to help her because she looked like she can not afford anything. This person helped her, got the shocked of her life because this lady bought an US$10k handbag. It turned out, this lady is an heiress who just didn't like to dress up but loves handbags!
svarcue is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 08:51 AM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Here is my story of being verbally mugged in Paris by a functionaire - i was with my young son and went into a RATP Information office in some large metro station - just poked my head inside to nab some metro maps off a rack

I barely noticed a young gal at a desk on the other side of the room but soon she yelled - yes yelled at me in French "You come in here and you do NOT say bonjour" - i mean she was screeching at me - if she had any brains she would have known i was a tourist and never acted like that - her job was to welcome folks not verbally attack them

And though i was technically in the wrong not to say bonjour - even when she was so far removed that young gal made me so angry that i yelled something back at her in English - swearing at her and her awful behavior - now that is an example of French customer service and in a public information office at that!
Palenque is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 09:02 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,505
"In part i might theorize that French workers after a few years simply cannot be fired for things like being sour and dour - American workers can. French workers i believe are good for life in their jobs barring some gross gross negligence. If wrong please correct me."

It is indeed difficult to fire a French worker barring gross misconduct but there are subtle ways..
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 10:07 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,228
"I think the problem in retail anywhere in the world is that they tend to be nicer to ones who come in "flashy" because assuming these are the ones with money, of course. But a real good retail person know otherwise."

I agree. I usually "dress to shop" if I want decent help. The last time I shopped on Rodeo Drive I inadvertently ended up there after a morning of sailing and found I was almost invisible to the sales staff at a number of shops. I giggled while they sucked up to customers based on their attire.

In Aspen I find the salespeople more savvy as they have many unassuming rich folks milling about town dressed very casually.

The only time I was yelled at in Paris was at a Jewish bakery in the Marais. I practiced, practiced, practiced my order in French in my head while waiting in line but when it was my turn I evidentally spoke too slowly and stupidly because the woman turned to the man behind me and went off about my inability to order. I walked out, went to Sacha Finkelsztejahn where I did NOT get yelled at and where I return whenever I get the chance.
Ann Marie
amwosu is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 11:13 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
So, theflock; all clear now?
sheila is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 12:57 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,425
amwosu - Isnt it funny about dressing to shop.
One day i went to my local Neiman Marcus in work out clothes ( and not my nice workout clothes!) and I was invisible. I was shopping for a hand bag. Well, I got depressed and left.
A few days later I went back to same store, but I was dressed up that day. People fell over themselves trying to help me.
Forget it. I went to another store and purchased my new hand bag.
Sorry to hijack.

I was in Paris a several weeks ago and did not enconter one rude Parisian store clerk. Not once. Lovely people.
annesherrod is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 05:19 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,586
Bonjour messieurs-dame, or whatever combination is approriate, is the norm. It is not shouted, just said quietly. (observed sur le qui-vive from April 30 to now).
Michael is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 05:34 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,525
Personally I like this part of the culture.

If I go into a shop, if I don't hear a bonjour monsieur, I look around for the shopkeeper in order to say bonjour madame/monsieur. And an 'Au revoir' on the way out.


At a restaurant, the same. At an outdoor restaurant setting, I'll at least nod to the waiter before sitting down.

Any time I deal with someone, be it sandwich vendor or Metro ticket seller, it's bonjour...then on to business.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 09:11 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 12,820



What a Scorbutica(Grumpy) woman..Cant believe that she ignored you just because you didn't say "Bonjour".

After all one of her duties was to help you, not ignore you.
kismetchimera is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 10:36 AM
  #35  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,144
Pal considers,

>.....she said 'you must address me and say bonjour madame'>

Now this is a great example of the lousy customer service French companies or at least some were hiring American consultants to combat.

it's not so much friendliness but sheer UN-friendliness ...........<

OTOH, a friend told me of an incident in Paris: After the 3rd time asking a question, but neglecting the "bonjour", the askee said, "Don't you think that it is rude not to acknowledge the presence of another human"?
.................................................. ..............................

>After all one of her duties was to help you,.....<

And "the customer is always right", and "It's my money and I can act any way I want", and "Who do these furriners think they are, anyway?", etc, etc

Down here in my little rural GA town, they think that folks who don't say "good morning", etc, to strangers on the street are being uppity - or are from the North.

ira is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 08:03 PM
  #36  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 373
99% of the time there is never a problem with the obligatory greetings, but there have been a few shops I've entered and just felt...uncomfortable. Saying 'bonjour' or au revoir' when there isn't anyone readily available to speak to has felt awkward. But, no one has screamed at me yet so I must be behaving acceptably! I haven't encountered anyone rude in Paris -- just the occasional harried waiter.
theflock is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:37 PM.