Let’s be honest, in addition to romantic and beautiful, rude is a word that pops to mind when you think of France. In this week’s guest post by Aleix, he attempts to dispel that conception.
Parisians have a reputation for being rude. However, this statement is quite obviously a generalization that some wish to lay upon the people of Paris and quite an unfair one. Here’s a few lines on dispelling this myth and how to behave when on your travels to the City of Light in order to avoid unpleasant situations.
It’s a Rivalry
Ask a lot of people about what they think about Parisians and they will tell you that they’re arrogant and rude. Ask them why and they’ll probably give you a situation which, quite honestly, is insignificant in order to make such generalization. Some say that French people from outside Paris don’t like Parisians.
Ask any Englishman from the north of the country what they think about Londoners or what people from Göteborg in Sweden think about those from Stockholm and you’ll find out that, in most cases, people from outside the capital have some sort of rivalry with those from it. France is no different.
When one arrives in Paris, one must understand that this is a metropolitan area of over 10 million people and that, as such, the culture is pretty much on-the-go, busy and with little time to spare. For example, if you’re travelling on the Metro in Paris during rush hour, don’t expect any pleasantries if you get off the metro and stand in the middle of the platform with your rucksack looking for which exit to take while everyone gets off.
In Western Europe, only London can compare to Paris in terms of lifestyle and the only difference being that in London people speak English and are generally incredibly polite in comparison with the rest of Europe. The city is on a constant rush, and don’t take it personally if they don’t hold the door of your Paris apartments open for you, that’s just how some cities work.
Being Respectful is a Traveler’s Responsibility
As travellers, we have the responsibility of being respectful towards locals and that starts with communication. One has to remember that the French are very proud of their language and, unlike other tourist destinations in Western Europe, English is not as commonly spoken.
Attempting to speak French will definitely make things easier for you when talking to Parisians and you will notice that the reaction will be a lot different than if you approach them in your native language. This doesn’t just happen in Paris but in all cities that you visit. Attempting the local language is always a plus. If you don’t speak basic French, then a simple “bonjour” or “merci beaucoup” will suffice.
Rudeness is not Politeness
Some people confuse rudeness with politeness. I’ll explain. Parisians are very polite people and, unless you’re addressing a youngster, it’s courteous to address them as Monsieur or Madame. When approaching someone for help or directions, ”excusez-moi monsieur/madame” will definitely get their attention, as opposed to anything else. The same goes for taxi drivers and shopkeepers. If you’re not polite to them, they won’t be polite to you, which is what some people consider rudeness.
Respect is another aspect to take into account. Paris has many landmarks that are indoors, such as Nôtre Dame or the different museums in the city, and in many photographs are not allowed. Parisians abide by the strict rules and if they’re in place, they will expect you to respect them.
Politeness gets you everywhere and opens many doors when travelling. A long stay in apartments in Paris can help you to get to know Parisians better and dispel all of these unfounded myths that surround the city. Paris is a great city, enjoy it with respect!
About the Author: Aleix Gwilliam is a 24 year old from Barcelona who looks English but thinks like a Catalan. He enjoys travelling, especially on old Czech trains, and trying to start conversations in Hungarian with people at Pecs station, even though his Hungarian is as good as his Bulgarian, in other words, not very good. He’s a trier.