Are the French Really Rude and Arrogant?

arrogant-frenchmanFor most of my life, whenever I heard people talk about the French invariably they would bring up the fact that as a race the French are arrogant and that if you went there and didn’t speak their language then they had no time for you. Okay, that’s fine I thought, since I wasn’t about to learn the language for a four night stay I would just have to put up with the rudeness.

So off I go on my first trip to Paris in 2001 expecting the worst and lo and behold I find the exact opposite. Everyone is helpful and tolerant of the fact that we don’t speak French. Okay, maybe that was just good luck. We were only there for four days and since it was our first trip we were a little reluctant to talk too that many people. In fact we went out of our way to find a restaurant with English speaking staff and that is about the only place we ate apart from the Musee d’Orsay.

Fast forward 12 years and here we are in Paris again. This time we are more confident as travellers as we travel a lot, and we are more prepared to get out there and connect with people. So have we found any arrogant French on this trip?…Nope!

Everyone we have spoken to is kind, helpful and wonderful to deal with and we have dealt with a lot of people during our 9 night stay including waiters, shop assistants, information staff, hotel staff and airport staff.

We are also quite surprised by the number of people who see us struggling with a map and come over to help us with directions. We would even make a joke of it after we received this sort of help and we’d walk away saying, “Those damn arrogant French, how dare they help us with directions.”  Said in the same vein as Monty Python – ‘What did the Romans ever do for us’ statement.

I am sure there are some arrogant French out there, just like there are arrogant people in every other country in the world…we just haven’t encountered any so far. All we have found are people that are friendly and happy to help.

So if you have heard those stories of French arrogance, don’t be put off. Go to France and just act in a friendly manner. You know a friendly smile when you approach someone will generally get you a smile in return.

Want our view – we think the French are just wonderful.

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  1. Don’t no where you get the perception that the French where Rude or Arrogant, certanly not since the Second World War, and that’s getting beyond living memory Now. Might be best to keep so called perceptions to your self, and just keep to actual experiences. Cheer’s Sara.

    • Perhaps you might want to read the post again Sara. We aren’t actually saying that the French are rude or arrogant…that is the whole point of the post. And as for keeping our perceptions to ourself, this is a personal blog and the whole point of a personal blog is to voice our perceptions, opinions, ideas, thoughts and whatever else we like. It is after all our blog.

      You also might want to read this. The world still unfortunately has the impression that the French are arrogant.

      • Sorry about that, I thought this was a proper travel web site, when it came up in the google search. The Artical you refer to, seems to be talking about the French politicans. I think most politicans around the world are a bit arrogant. Won’t disturd again. Sara.

        • Ouch lol. We tend to think of ourselves as a real travel site giving reviews and advice based on our personal experiences.
          Sara we appreciate all comments and welcome interaction on our site and Facebook page.
          We have been in Paris for a number of days and have nothing but praise for the friendliness of the French people we have encountered.

  2. I find that appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes people may appear more arrogant than they are. If I can’t speak a word of French then how would I know. I found that even though I can’t speak a word of French that Parisians were very polite and helpful just try to remeber a few P’s and Q’s. In every country you will find 50% who will are polite and helpful and the other 50% who you don’t know. Normally you don’t have to worry about the other 50% because they will try their best to avoid you since they have something to do. The positive 50% will try the best they can (given they you don’t speak a word of their language) to point you in the right direction. If you have a cute 11 year old girl who tries to speak French then that helps. For a Parisian the cute factor always works wonders. Remember that in August that there will only be few Parisians about. The only ones left are in the tourist trade where the other 90% of Paris in August is foreign.

  3. I’ve never found the French to be anymore rude or arrogant than any other nationality. Sometimes in the larger cities the people can be brusk if they are in a hurry, but you just needtoscrqtch the surface to find that they are by and large warm and friendly people. If you are rude to them, however, they will not hesitate to be rude back!

  4. I would add a comment on Parisian rudeness, if you want that a Parisian helps you, find one there!
    You have 2.300.000 people living in Paris, 17 % are not French, only 31 % are real parisians. 28.000.000 people visit Paris every year (including 10.000.000 french of the other parts of France).
    When I see a pregnant woman, an elderly person, somebody with a young child, I leave my place. The Parisian public transports can be hard to use, I cannot count how many times I made a bend on the way towards my office to show to foreigners the platform they were searching.

  5. I believe that people are only nice to you if they like you. If an Asian were to go to France, there’s a high that probability that they’ll be treated differently by the French than someone who’s a westerner or a European.

    • I agree with you Hayley that people are nice to you if they like you and I find that the best way way to get them to like me is by being gracious and pleasant. I generally think that people will respond in kind regardless of where a person is from.

  6. Hey, interesting point of view ! As a french, I had to give my opinion here (sorry for my english, I probably do tons of mistakes).

    I dont know if we’re arrogant or not, but everytime I go to Paris (I’m from a small city near the sea), I feel that people are quite rude there, compare to the other parts of France I’ve been.

    So… maybe you’ve been lucky. Or maybe, only the french tavellers are arrogant, with this kind of state of mind : “pff, France is better anyways”. Dont know…

    Thanks for this article, it gives me a reason to feel pride of being french (we dont have that much this opportunity, since the last years ^^).

    Jérémy VS.

    • As you say Jeremy we may have just been lucky, but I found that everyone I encountered in Paris was extremely courteous. When standing on a street corner checking out a map we were approached by complete strangers both young and elderly, who asked if they can assist and then proceeded to do exactly that. I don’t speak French and have never found that to be an issue, most French people that I have encountered speak English, some maybe not so well but with a lot of gesturing and giggling we generally understand each other.
      I have been told by a number of people about the arrogance of the French, and quite frankly I have never experienced this and based on my experiences so far, I simply love the French and cant wait to return for an even longer visit.

  7. Actually, it’s the Americans who are arrogant, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Americans call French people pussies and cowards because they were not able to defend themselves in WWII, 95% of Americans I know just hate French people without having a reason.

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