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.