26 March 2013

Frenchie Mythbusters - French People Are Rude

Americans have a lot of weird and often conflicting stereotypes concerning the French, that are simply untrue. As for the most common questions that I got was asked upon returning home after my study abroad:

"Why don't the French wear deodorant? That must be awful in the summer!"
"Is it true French women don't shave?"
"Are the French really as rude as they say?"

Today I'm addressing the last one.

French People Are Rude

French people might be rude if you're rude first. The concept of customer service exists, but it's just not the same. The customer is not always right. Sometimes the customer is a jerk or an idiot, and they won't even pretend to tolerate it. However, they do not care if you're American or not. They do not care if your French is terrible. What counts is the effort you make.

However, the good news is that if you act like a reasonable, polite adult, you will be treated like one! I've always found the French to be welcoming and very polite. It is true that the French are a little bit more reserved than Americans in general - you definitely can't call that girl you've only known for two weeks your BFF - but over all they're a loveable bunch. There are nice people, friendly people, rude people, and fake people, just like in America.

But I think I've figured out why people believe this!

Story Time! 

Normally, people who say the French are rude are tourists who have never spent more than a couple of weeks in Paris.  I thought maybe timing was the problem. They just didn't have enough time to really get to know the Frenchies. Our maybe there was some cultural taboo they had offended without realizing it.

A picture taken of Notre Dame during a school trip in high school.


That is until last June when I had my first rude encounter. My American friend Betsy and I decided to eat out in a really touristy part of Paris next to Notre Dame. We entered the restaurant, chattering away in English, when our waiter showed up. We'll call him Toad. The conversation went a little something like this.

Toad: Ugh! All zees Americans! You come to France and you don't speak French. If zyou want I must try to speak in English. .:Large sigh for dramatic effect:.

Me: Mais c'est pas un soucis. On parle toutes les deux fran├žais! 
(Oh no worries! We both speak French.)

Toad: .:Looks shocked and slightly embarrassed:. .:awkward pause:.
         But zwe can speak in English if you like.

I refused to speak to him in English for the rest of the night. Turns out this toad barely spoke French, actually preferred speaking English, and made a show out of being rude to tourists. In fact, in Paris, most of the super touristy shops and restaurants I've been in are run by immigrant workers who speak better English than French. 

So the next time you're in France, if a restaurant worker is rude to you, take it with a grain of salt. 


This week's myth is 





Heard anything strange about the French or French culture that you would like me to address in one of my mythbusters? Let me know in the comments below!

4 comments:

  1. I heard....that a friend of a friend of a friends friend saw someone pee in public and it was okay. I can't imagine that being true...but if you are answering questions :) Miss you lady!

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    1. I had a long conversation with my husband about that this morning! I'll definitely write about that next. Thanks for the idea! :)

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  2. What a great article. I am traveling to France this summer & this "rudeness rumor" has been a concern to me. I will try to remember your advice & hopefully it will help!

    Warmly, Michelle
    Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust

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  3. Great story! I bet the look on Toad's face was priceless :)
    And other than the fact that the French are definitely more reserved than we are, I don't think they're anymore rude than anyone else!

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I'd love to know what you think!