Monday, 21 March 2011


I've lived here for six years, now, and I still can't work out why the French have a reputation for rudeness. Parisians, yes; the French: no. Parisians are not French; they are capital-dwellers who don't have enough space to move about freely and are victims of the ubiquitous blight of substandard French urban planning. This is why they are rude. Space is the key to relaxation and the Parisians have none. Treat them to your most winning smile when you click your fingers at them on a crowded café terrace this summer.

Get out of Paris - and my tip is to go as far as you can - and you're in another world. Seriously. It's like comparing Millwall supporters and Medicis. Even provincial cities retain a certain modicum of good manners, especially if you call the tune; you'll rarely get growled at if you smile and flash your assets, wherever they be located. In fact, strike up a conversation with the person opposite you in any shop other than high street chains and bakers between 6.30 and 7.30pm and you'll be amazed at how quickly and readily the chat flows.

The key to getting along in this country is seduction: a beautiful turn of phrase, a flirtatious look or an unsolicited compliment will invariably work wonders, assuming the object of your charm offensive isn't in the process of relieving you of your wallet at knifepoint. I've found France to be one of the most courteous countries I've ever lived in and the French derserve a break. The French, I said; not the Parisians.


Ksam said...

That is funny, because my experience has been almost the exact opposite! I had almost weekly horrible experiences during the five years I lived in Bretagne (and actually still have them when I go back for work), but I've been in Paris for almost three years and I can only think of one rude person in all that time.

The Parisians have been so much more friendly and open to me than any of the Breton every were. Ex: I went to the same boulangerie 3-4 times a week, and even after five years, the employees there refused to "recognize" me (the only American in town). Same thing for the grocery store, the butcher, etc. But yet after only a few months in Paris, the shopkeepers in my neighborhood knew who I was and a few would even greet me by name. So give me Paris over the province any day! :)

Fingers said...

It's interesting how people's experiences can be so different. Funnily, I found the Parisians more approachable when I was living there; since I've only been a visitor to the city that 'bond' seems to have been lost, maybe understandably. I've never been to Brittany (Nantes doesn't really count, does it?) but it's a shame you had such a negative time, there.