ALL that crap you hear from Americans who are DISGUSTED with the snobbish Parisians.. well, honey, let me tell you.. those Americans are probably the snobs.
Typical day in Paris. kind older gentleman walks into local cafe. They greet him properly... by name. He asks permission to sit - at what is probably his usual spot- they nod and offer, again with the pleases and thank yous and the proper Monsieur et Madams in all the right places.
I try to remember the last time, I said, Thank you, Ma'am or Thank you, Sir in America... and I LIVE IN THE SOUTH.
This same man is in the small pharmacy across the street a half hour later. I speak and understand a good bit of French, so I eavesdrop, and I am again, impressed. He greets both the customer in line ahead of us, apologizes to me for making me wait, then formally greets the clerk at the counter, thank ing her profusely, as if she just saved his life. There is also a great deal of head nodding and bowing.
It's both adorable and... humbling. I feel like an oaf.
This type of kindness and formal posture are not solely found in the older generation, but everywhere... from the young girls in line at the Louvre to the family with three children at the table beside us at dinner.
This writer sums up my feelings about the myth of THE RUDE FRENCH perfectly.
As for me? I can't wait for my next trip to France. I'll be practicing my head nods and my "merci's and s'il vous plait's," until someone somewhere mistakes me for a native.
Here's a taste of what I did and saw.