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Is France going downhill, is it just the economy, or are the French and France losing their "je ne sais quoi"?

Is France going downhill, is it just the economy, or are the French and France losing their "je ne sais quoi"?

Mar 2nd, 2002, 09:35 AM
  #1  
JD
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Is France going downhill, is it just the economy, or are the French and France losing their "je ne sais quoi"?

I first visited France in 1971, returned in 1982, lived there 1988-91, and have returned on business with some tourism about every 3 years since 1991. While I lived there I loved it, spoke French exclusively outside the home, and was of very mixed emotions when it was time to move home. I had enjoyed every aspect of France and the French.
But on my most recent visit just last month (after 4 years), it appeared to me that the various regions that business took me to were in a state of deterioration. Streets were dirty, a rare thing not many years ago; hotels had gone downhill despite "renovations"; service, always expert and courteous in the past, was often lacklustre, although nowhere near bad as in the States. One waiter complained when I asked him to move a table slightly to accommodate my left-handedness. Another, who was refilling silverware trays at her station made a rude comment about the customers when a co-worker asked her to make less noise so as not to disturb us.
I know these are little things, but they were frequent and seemed to be generalized to most people I came in contact with. More generally, the people in the street seemed more glum and common courtesy was less common.
Have any experienced travellers or businesspersons noted the same or was I just having a bad week?
 
Mar 3rd, 2002, 06:11 AM
  #2  
Buzzy
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I think that society in general in all countries is less courteous than years ago. I think that liberal thinking has resulted in our children growing up not realising how important good manners are. This is being carried forward as they reach adulthood and become the the frontline workers in all our service industries. Having said that I think France is a victim of its own success. For years people have raved about France which has resulted in them being swamped by people of other nationalities buying up their houses and pushing up prices for the locals etc. None of this is helpful.
 
Mar 3rd, 2002, 06:53 AM
  #3  
YouGottaBeKidding!
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LIBERAL THINKING?! Pull-EAZE! My mother is a flaming liberal and she is the most polite and courteous person I've ever met. I'm sorry, but that is just a bit too much to swallow without a comment -- and it comes to you from someone who is considered somewhat conservative, too.
 
Mar 3rd, 2002, 07:03 AM
  #4  
me
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I think Buzzy is correct in saying that people are less polite and courteous everywhere. I have really noticed a huge drop in manners just with the introduction of the cell phone.
 
Mar 3rd, 2002, 07:15 AM
  #5  
Patrick
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I see two directions to answer this post. The first is that yes, I think what you describe is happening anywhere. Go back and reread your entire post but thinking London, Madrid, Rome, New York, or even Chicago -- just to name a few -- and you will probably find that your post is just as true about any other city or country as it is about Paris or France.

The second response is that I think the more times we revisit a place, the more the "shininess" wears off. The first time anywhere, if circumstances are right, can seem magical and we overlook so much. In time, that magic even grows in our memory, so that when we return nothing is quite as magical as we now remember it to have been. Even having lived there -- but 10 years ago, perhaps some of the magic that you remember has overshadowed some of the inconsistencies you overlooked back then or have forgotten about since.
 
Mar 3rd, 2002, 07:35 AM
  #6  
His wife
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The observation is correct, but what is happening in France appears to me to be the result of global economics more than a change in French values. There have been several French "social plans" in recent years that have vied against the actions taken by French companies to remain competitive or increase competitiveness in world markets. It's ruthless out there and France, which once held on tightly to its socialism, is now compelled, for good or evil, to compete or suffer. Just as in the U.S. the effects have been felt in the societal and governmental infrastructures, so has this resulted in penny pinching in France. It may well be that the French ouvrier who hosed down the city streets on a very regular basis has gone the way of the homing pigeon.
But I am less pessimistic. I don't see the people as having changed much if at all. Service still seems fine, but then, when in France I always stick to restaurants where I'm known.
 
Mar 3rd, 2002, 09:24 AM
  #7  
Wayne
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Yes, the French have changed. But then, the world has changed. There is not much that was the same 30 years ago, if you stop and think about it. I would maintain that relative to the rest of the world, the French have retained their national character as well as any country, and better than many. The example of the less-than-polite waiters/waitresses/hotel clerks is also a result of the fact that many, many more people are traveling now than 30 years ago. I would have to suppose that the increased tourist presence and pressure has made many tempers flare. But I'll still go to France; I just stay out in the little country towns, which have perhaps also changed--but not as much as the big cities.
 
Mar 3rd, 2002, 10:00 AM
  #8  
mimi taylor
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I agree with the last poster, Wayne.
There is more politeness in the villages,but alas, people with cell phones are the worst offenders. Last year we were in a remote area in the alpes and I was sitting on a terrace
enjoying an incredible view while sipping my pastis. This couple came along and sat next to me. The man started making phone calls in a loud voice and broke the spell. Why not go to your room, your car, but don't inflict the phonecalls on someone enjoying their peaceful environment.
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 10:22 AM
  #9  
Anthony
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Mimi Taylor, as usual, is so right. The cell phone has caused decline in courtesy everywhere, Paris included. There are good purposes for a cell phone, babbling loudly in public is not one of them.

France gets 50 million tourists a year, the same size as its population. Imagine if the U.S. got 280 million tourists per year. The French, particularly in the countryside, do very well indeed especially if you try to speak the language and respect their way of life.

Le peuple de France continue amiable.
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 12:10 PM
  #10  
Buzz
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Yes, the cell phone is a monster and I’ve never seen it more used/abused than in… London! ( Angelino’s & New Yorkers don’t even hold a candle to the Londoners.) My friends who live elsewhere in England have commented on it to me many times. I first noticed it about 5 or 6 years ago, when the technology started to become so prevalent. Business types walking down a noisy street, plugging their ear on one side of their head with a finger, screaming into their phones, “Right, but I can’t bloody hear you, Nigel, speak up, old fellow”! I’ve always wanted to tap them on the shoulder and say, “Right, mate, we’re all mighty impressed, but I’d be even more electrified if you had an office to phone from, or even the courtesy to step into a phone box.”

A friend of mine from Gorleston On Sea and I departed from London once on our way to Norwich. The couple over from us had introduced themselves as Londoners. They spent the duration of the trip on their phones, talking, playing games, whatever. The fellow made an attempt to read a paper, but grew as fidgety as a junkie and, able to stand no more, he dropped the paper to the floor of the carriage and fished his phone out of his coat pocket, jabbing wildly at the buttons.

As we approached our destination the lady made a call and started talking very loudly, very excitedly to a friend of hers, “Yes, dear, we’re very near the station…very near, indeed. Oh, there you are! Can you see me, luv? Here we are, here we are,” all the while eagerly waving to her friend who was waiting at the platform with her cell phone glued to her ear!

I’ve seen people leaving their flats in London, locking the door, turning to walk down the steps while reaching for their phones. I always wonder, why not just stay inside and make your calls before heading out?

Any time, anywhere, they cannot seem to live without their cellular phones. Americans are not too far behind, and neither are the French, but for my money the folks in London take the cake.
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 12:13 PM
  #11  
k
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yesterday,walking through Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC...a man speaking Russian, walked all over the store,yelling in Russian into his cell phone.He must have been waiting for someone,but it seemed like no matter where we went, he would appear, stomping through the floors,yelling into his phone.
No matter where you go or who it is, people are just plain bad mannered these days.
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 12:51 PM
  #12  
xxx
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I can't remember the last time I went ANYwhere -- department store, grocery store, restaurant -- when there wasn't at least one person talking loudly into their cell phone as they shopped, ate, whatever. There are rude people everywhere.
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 03:17 PM
  #13  
hans
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Yes, there are rude people everywhere. But, why does France have such a large population of them???
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 05:44 PM
  #14  
JD
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It doesn't. Either culture views certain aspects of the other's manners as rude or boorish. American culture, just because we're American, isn't automatically "right". But I suspect you're trolling so no telling what you'll come back with... if you come back, "Hans".
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 05:50 PM
  #15  
norman
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and why does Germany have the loudest?
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 06:07 PM
  #16  
alby
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Germans don't come close to Americans for LOUD voices. Spend enough time in Europe and you'll discover that that really loud family will always turn out to be American.
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 06:40 PM
  #17  
Marcus
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I would have to agree that Germans and Americans tend to be not only the loudest people, but the most prosperous
as well. They didn't achieve their wealth by sitting back meekly I'm afraid.
 
Mar 4th, 2002, 07:17 PM
  #18  
quiettype
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The noisiest always prevail. There are no places left now where quiet is considered desireable by the majority. Libraries, reading rooms,concerts, shows, restaurants, churches, campgrounds, mountaintops, rivers, etc. How do quiet people fight back against it? It just seems impossible to do anything but quietly go away. Sad.
 
Mar 5th, 2002, 12:51 AM
  #19  
Jim
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The rudest and loudest, in my opinion, are the French, Canadians, Russians & Italians. They do not care where they are... they just argue out loud.
 
Mar 5th, 2002, 04:30 AM
  #20  
Sue
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Most of us don't discipline ourselves to hear our own noise, or the noise of things we use. Such as the aircraft each and every one of us takes when flying to Europe. Someone has to listen to those planes take off and land - glad I don't live near Heathrow or JFK. Which nationality, pray, is most responsible for that kind of misery?

'Screaming' out one's opinions on this argument isn't going to make the world any quieter. Speakers mounted outside of stores, souped up car engines, electronic games , all contribute their share to the overall noise problem. We can lobby train companies in various countries for 'cell free cars' just as the lobby for non-smoking cars was successful. In short, if we don't address the problem, we're part of it.

Sorry JD, that wasn't pertinent to your topic.
 

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