French welcome for tourists

Jul 6th, 2012, 04:11 AM
  #21  
ira
 
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HI M,

The attitude of the French (mostly) has changed greatly from what it was a generation ago. On my last visit, I even had the surprising experience of having a gentleman walk me to the place I was seeking.

A far cry from my first visit in the late sixties.

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Jul 6th, 2012, 07:30 AM
  #22  
 
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Why, if you moved there, would you even contemplate doing so if you didn't speak the language?

Unless you're a Trappist monk, what possible point is there moving somewhere you can't communicate with anyone?>

what about the zillions of Brits who flock to second homes in France - how many of them speak any French at all?
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Jul 6th, 2012, 07:45 AM
  #23  
 
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"how many of them speak any French at all?"

I've never met one of these monoglots Americans are always yammering on about.

Nor has a single Frenchperson I've ever encountered. Their whinge is mostly about the Englishman who runs the local bar or restaurant (the one the French couldn't be arsed keeping alive), employs only his English nieces (because there aren't any French kids left in Colombey les deux Pissoirs) and now has the cheek to run for the local council.

You try running a business in France without speaking French. Never mind standing for public office.
flanneruk is online now  
Jul 6th, 2012, 03:05 PM
  #24  
 
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"Colombey les deux Pissoirs"
What's the French for "LMAO?"
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Jul 6th, 2012, 05:05 PM
  #25  
 
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I can't tell you how many times I've been asked by Americans, when they learn I lived in France, "Oh, did you learn French while you were there?"

Uh, no. I wouldn't have moved there in the first place had I not spoken French.
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Jul 7th, 2012, 07:42 AM
  #26  
 
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Uh, no. I wouldn't have moved there in the first place had I not spoken French.>

zillions of Brits however have 2nd houses or move to romantic parts of France without speaking any meaningful French IME.
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Jul 7th, 2012, 08:41 AM
  #27  
 
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I live in a big world city with people from all over, and we generally get along, but we don't expect everyone we meet to treat us as their new best friend>>

lol, Patrick, when I lived in London, I would cut a swathe through the tourists wandering down Oxford Street and getting in my way without a 2nd thought [except "these bloody tourists!] - I've never been treated like that in Paris.

I have usually been treated with the utmost courtesy in France and when I'm not, I generally put it down to their having got out of the wrong side of the "lit".

as for people moving to France without speaking French, of course there will be a few, but unlike with those who move to Spain who do so for other reasons, most brits move to France because they love the place and want to be part of the culture; therefore learning the language is a natural and obvious thing to do.
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Jul 9th, 2012, 12:36 PM
  #28  
 
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most brits move to France because they love the place and want to be part of the culture;>

so they find the French culture more to their liking than the one back home?

Naw I think they move there for the weather - many go south and for what I call patronizing views of the French culture - in small villages with a lifestyle long gone from most of France - where they can revel in small talk and small negotiations over buying bread and meat, etc.

Some of the books I've seen about Brits in France rather make me ill - the patronizing way they look at local French life - in small villages that are in no way representative of France as a whole - a Year in Provence is a good exemplar of that. Haughty British treating the rural French like school kids.
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Jul 9th, 2012, 12:47 PM
  #29  
 
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It's kinda funny, but I have to agree with tomboy. While I never felt the French were rude to me, just sort of indifferent, more recently I'm finding that I'm treated with greater regard. Of course, I've learned a lot. Always greet the shop-people with hello madame (monsieur), offer a greeting and excuse me before asking a question, don't behave as if you've known them forever, no touching, forget "comment ca va." Maybe it's a generational thing. Younger people don't remember the war. When I traveled with my ancient mom, the French fell all over me being, not just polite, but actually nice and solicitous. I'm going to live in Paris when I get old. Older.
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Jul 9th, 2012, 01:00 PM
  #30  
 
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Some of the books I've seen about Brits in France rather make me ill - the patronizing way they look at local French life - in small villages that are in no way representative of France as a whole - a Year in Provence is a good exemplar of that. Haughty British treating the rural French like school kids.>>

well, Pal, I've read many books about brits moving to France, and most of them are mainly about the mistakes they have made and how lovely and accommodating the french have been despite their faux pas. IMO Mr. Mayle is the exception rather than the rule.
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Jul 9th, 2012, 05:49 PM
  #31  
 
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We just came back from Provence and Paris.

Amazing what "hello", "goodbye", "thank you" and "your welcome" in French does to their tone.

And if you forget to start with "hello" they keep repeating it until you catch on and say "hello".

Everybody wwas friendly. We had no problems and no complaints.
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Jul 9th, 2012, 11:15 PM
  #32  
 
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We have experienced the most unique and unexpected kindnesses during our visits to France; I might say, in retrospect, perhaps more so in France than anywhere else we have travelled.

I would use the word 'dignified' rather than formal, and completely personable, to describe the people that we encountered.
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Jul 10th, 2012, 01:17 AM
  #33  
 
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Everyone is a citizen of two countries, their own and France. 'Nuff said.
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Jul 10th, 2012, 04:19 AM
  #34  
 
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A lot of British people who move to the French countryside say they do it because it is like how England was 50 years ago!
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Jul 10th, 2012, 05:55 AM
  #35  
 
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A lot of British people who move to the French countryside say they do it because it is like how England was 50 years ago!>

exactly the patronizing attitude I was speaking of - France is just as modern as Britain if not more so. If Brits sought out small towns in saw Scotland they also would see an England of 50 years ago.

Yup Brits think the French quaint and backwards.
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Jul 10th, 2012, 06:05 AM
  #36  
 
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I don't think they're being patronising. I think it is more to do with the fact they find the French countryside more unspoilt than the English countryside. Perhaps the lifestyle there is more relaxed. Certainly the price of property used to be lower in France than in England but I don't know if that is still the case. Not sure what you mean about the Scots towns though.
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Jul 10th, 2012, 07:08 AM
  #37  
 
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Palenq I am not quite sure what you are getting at. Is there something wrong with liking the "small village" life?

If I go to southern Italy, is it patronizing or maybe I am romanticizing, if I find the pastoral, slower pace of life a diversion from the frenetic pace we keep here at home?

Should I instead focus on the fact that the economy is depressed, the food is "cucina povere", there is a man who lives in a house outside of Martina Franca whose job it is to crank down the gates each time the train comes by?

It's not indicative of the culture of the country as a whole, and I think we all realize that, but we can find charm in their culture when we visit.

Am I being patronizing? (Or should I take the "I" out of this for fear of being pummeled?)
A genuine question....
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Jul 10th, 2012, 08:30 AM
  #38  
 
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>>If Brits sought out small towns in saw Scotland they also would see an England of 50 years ago.<<

The inhabitants of both small and large towns in Scotland include a proportion of Brits that PQ might find surprisingly high (until he thinks about it a bit); but I take his general point. Many small towns in Scotland, and indeed in England, do feel as though 50 years haven't gone by yet, and not just on Sunday afternoons.
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Jul 10th, 2012, 09:06 AM
  #39  
 
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sunbaked - Yes you are right - it's just that when I see shows or read books by Brits in France (or tuscany) they seem to be laughing at the locals and how quaint they are. Rich Brits buy up the town and locals become servents carrying out quaint tasks - like gardening or re-modeling houses, etc. No doubt great for keeping villages alive but as British villages not French - French only in looks and yes a feel of years ago because the rich Brits can afford to keep it that way.
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Jul 10th, 2012, 09:41 AM
  #40  
 
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Rich Brits buy up the town and locals become servents carrying out quaint tasks - like gardening or re-modeling houses, etc.>>

well, i don't quite agree with your point of view, but unlike many of the locals they like buying old houses, they provide work for the locals, and in some villages in Brittany for example, they are all that is keeping village schools going. [according to a piece i heard on the Today Prog about a year ago, when they were interviewing a Brit who had become mayor of his commune].

I suppose that you object to that too, Pal!
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