For 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 have travelled a lot since that first trip, 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, airport staff and just ordinary folk.
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.