Are the French Rude?

by Traveling Professor on March 9, 2012

It makes sense when visiting a foreign country to play by their rules and customs.   Remember the old saying, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”?   The same principle applies in Paris.
When initiating a conversation with a Parisian, regardless of their status in society, it is considered extremely rude a greeting of “bonjour/bonsoir madame/monsieur” is not tendered.   It is considered impolite if eye contact is not made during a conversation.
When Parisians perceive that they are being treated disrespectfully, their general reaction is to be even ruder to the “offender”.
We just don’t have the polite manners in the U.S. that the French practice.   For instance, in my neighborhood here in New York, when I walk into a coffee shop, the motor vehicle department, a library, or my doctor’s office, rarely am I greeted with more than a stare or a grunt.  And to be honest, over time I have come to accept that type of behavior.   Therefore, sometimes when I walk into a place of business, I admit that I am not exactly Mr. Personality either.
But if I ever tried to pull that routine in Paris, at best I would get a dirty look.   But I would probably be ignored and even insulted.  That’s the way it is.
However, if you follow their customs and protocols (after all, you are in their country), by giving a hearty greeting, you will find the French to be amongst the most hospitable, helpful and friendly

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