I'm stumped. Stupefied. A common opinion among those who have traveled to Paris, France, is that Parisians are rude and unfriendly. I'd like to know more about the encounters that cultivated these beliefs because I recently spent eight days in Paris and not once did I experience rudeness, curtness, or disrespect.
As a travel guide I tend to over-prepare for traveling -- especially for a new destination. I scour guidebooks, websites, blogs, and talk to a lot of people who have been to the location I will be visiting. After weeks of preparing for my trip to Paris, I became concerned about the growing number of people claiming that I must be proficient in the language, follow proper Parisian dining etiquette, and fit in as much as possible to avoid offending the locals and being treated rudely and harshly. I have to admit, I was so worried that I crammed three years of high school French studies into the 7-hour flight in an attempt to be as “French” as I could possibly be. By the time we landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I was so worked up I couldn’t remember the most familiar word in the French language: Bonjour!
Bracing myself for the inevitable attacks, I collected my luggage and called the shuttle service to announce our arrival. "Bonjour, parlez-vous Anglais?" (I choked!) "Welcome Mrs. Gilley, your driver is waiting for you right outside the gate." Oh what a relief -- at least the first person I encountered was nice and had no qualms about speaking English!
To my surprise, our driver was nice; the hotel staff was friendly and helpful. The waiter where we had our first lunch was funny, playful, and generous. The proprietor of the restaurant we selected for dinner spoke no English and yet, she was extremely pleasant and welcoming. Although I was beginning to relax a little, I convinced myself that we were just lucky on our first day; the rudeness was yet to come.
In the following days, we continued to meet chatty and friendly taxi drivers, locals willing to assist with directions, restaurant staff bending over backwards to serve, and pleasant and helpful store owners. We traversed across nearly every square inch of Paris and not ONCE did we happen upon even a slightly offensive Parisian. It was pleasantly surprising, to say the least. You would expect that in a large city -- any city for that matter -- you would run into at least one rude person (try spending a day in Manhattan and you will see what I mean!).
It makes me wonder about those previous claims. Either way, I proudly disavow them! Rude Parisians? -- I think not!