Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to Avoid Rude French People

The French have a bad reputation.  

They are known to be rude, unwilling to help you, and snooty. This is absolutely true of some French citizens (especially Parisians) but not all of them. If you can find the nice ones, you will have a much better experience.

I believe if you are armed with some simple French words and a few insights into French culture, you will be able to almost entirely avoid rude French people. Granted, you will encounter some meanies, but don't let them get to you! There are nice people in France, too!

The most important part of talking with a French person is to remember to say three key words: "bonjour" (hello), "merci" (thank you), and "au revoir" (goodbye) in every conversation you have. The French love their formalities. It is extremely rude if you start talking to a person without saying "bonjour" first or if you forget to say "merci" and "au revoir" at the end. If you don't say "bonjour" first, you just insulted your new acquaintance and do you really think they are going to be keen on helping you after that? Probably not. They may even give you wrong directions on purpose just because they think you're rude!

Say "bonjour" first! It can make all the difference!

Also, it will be a huge advantage if you at least try to speak French. If you are trying to speak French, the people will appreciate your effort. They may even take pity on you and start speaking to you in English!

If you know absolutely zero French and are not willing to give it a go, you still MUST learn the three key words mentioned above and one sentence. That sentence is, "Parlez-vous Anglais?" (par-lay-voo on-glay) which means, "Do you speak English?"

If they say "yes", speak slowly and remember to say "merci" and "au revoir" afterwards. If they say "no", say "merci, au revoir" and ask someone else. Someone will help you eventually!

Remember, people who live in Paris tend to have a tougher shell. They are big city people, like New Yorkers, but with a longer lunch and better wardrobe. They live in city that is famous for its beauty and culture, and they know it. Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world and tourists are ever present. So, please excuse them if they don't have time to talk to a tourist every day of the week. They are probably hurrying off to the next-great-artists' first gallery opening or something.

Tidbits to be aware of...
 Here are a few things to be aware of. If you know about these annoyances before experiencing them, you will hopefully be able to accept them with grace and less stress.
  •  The French don't like to wait in line and will shamelessly cut in front of you if they think they can get away with it. There is nothing you can do about it so I thought I should warn you to be cool and think "whatever! I'm in Paris!" when this happens to you.
  •  When visiting a restaurant, expect the worst service of your life. Sometimes it will be horrendous and sometimes it will be okay but it will never be good. Expect no pleasantries. There will be no, "Hi my name is Pierre and I will be your server today. What would you like to drink?" Absolutely NONE of that. The tip is already worked into your bill, so they don't need to be nice or deliver your food in a reasonable amount of time and you don't have to leave any extra Euros on the table.
  • You will never be instant BFFs with a French person. Friendships in French culture are held very highly. It will take a while before you will become someone's friend but once you do, they will be your friend forever
  • When visiting Paris, don't expect too much; this isn't a movie. Some people get an idea of what Paris will be like in their head before arriving only to discover it's not as glamorous as they thought. Chelsea says it well when she says, "The city will be dirty, crowded, loud, and indifferent -- but it will be beautiful and breathtaking."
Another thing to remember is not every French person is a Parisian and many French people who don't live in Paris, don't like Parisians! I encourage you to explore more of France and see for yourself how kind the average non-Parisian French person can be!

Have you experienced the stereotypical rude Parisian?? Do you think if you read this article it would have prepared you for them? Or maybe you're from Paris yourself and have some insight into the matter--I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. this is hilarious! and informative. we're dreaming of a trip to paris this spring, i will bookmark this and come back to it if it happens :)

  2. Thank you!! I'm glad you enjoyed it and I hope you make it to Paris! :)