We’ve all heard it. It’s practically conditioned in us. The French, Parisians more specifically, are rude. They’re going to laugh at you, blow smoke in your face, kick your cat and beat you over the head with a baguette, and all you said was “Howdy! Oh I mean, Bon-Jovi! Where. Is. LAA McDONalds? Mercy Boo-hoo!”
Okay okay, maybe I’m being a little harsh on everybody here. A part of you should expect some of this by now if you’ve familiarized yourself with my previous entries. However, before you condemn me for being insensitive, generalizing American tourist (again) and spam my feedback with lyrics to “We Are The World”, try to understand that there’s (almost) always an underlining meaning to my methods of crankiness.
I like drawing comparisons between Paris and New York for several reasons. For one, I live in New York and live(d) in Paris, so I liken myself to be someone seasoned enough to make such comparisons. More importantly, as Paris is “the” city of France, New York is arguably the same to the United States. In the link I posted above on the same topic, the author Karin Fawcett discusses differences between residents of the people of Paris to people of Brittney, a few hours outside the city, and how the pace of the community tends to be much slower comparatively. The same can easily be said if you travel a couple of hours outside of New York either upstate, down NJ, or out to the eastern end of Long Island. And if you were to ask somebody who lives outside of the city, you are more then likely going to run into somebody telling you about how rude New Yorkers are. Speaking about stereotypes, isn’t that one of our biggest complaints we hear about The Big Apple? Karin mentions it herself about the stigma of the arrogant, obnoxious, rude New Yorker when drawing her own comparisons to Paris. And I would bet that if you lived outside of Boston, you’d here people tell you how rude Bostonians are, and if you lived outside of Chicago, or outside Los Angeles, and so on.
So we’ve established that there is a stigma over city dwellers and how they are rude. We’ve also can make a debatable assumption that most of these complaints come from people who more often then not reside outside of these cities (Pretty sure I danced around that safely enough, just in case somebody reads this and yells at their monitor “Oh no no no, my uncle Ted lives in Brooklyn and he thinks everyone there are big ole jerks!”).
Anywho, point is, we know this opinion is out there, yet for whatever reason, when we apply the same ideology to a place like Paris it’s turned into a huge cultural problem with the French; Instead of the just failing to realize that Paris is a city just like any other, with people who live in the city just like any other, and that city life is just different then any other. But no, instead since it’s in France and American, it’s clearly just that the French are big old meanies who want to spit on your freedom fries. Relax. Notice that time I also generalized the French, by saying the French (rather then Parisians) since people also tend to associate the French in general with rudeness, not just those living in Paris. I would suggest that since 98.9% (It’s made up, go with it) of all American tourism in France is to Paris, people generalize the entire country and their experience with people with the city alone.
It’s like sending somebody who’s never been to the states before to New York. Then, have them explain how their experience in American was to someone who lives in Ohio/Colorado/Rhode Island/ect. Something tells me those people would disagree with the travelers analysis. Like so, people who have lived in Rennes or Marseilles would take quite the objection to your views of the French, or France in general, based on your trip to Paris.
So let’s backtrack here cause I don’t want to get too far off point. You’re going to, or thinking about going to Paris. Yay! You don’t like rude people. Boo. Our conclusion? Don’t worry! The French aren’t rude, and the Parisians are just French New Yorkers (or whatever city you want to use that’ll make you feel better.) And by the way, I happen to think for every “rude” New Yorker, there’s a nice one that has no problem telling you what direction the Empire State Building is. And on that note, I never ran into a Parisian that wasn’t happy to point me in the direction of the Sacre-Coeur either. Matter of fact, I thought the Parisians were actually friendlier about it, but obviously that’s on a case by case basis. Just remember also, on top of all that was just said, they’re doing it in a 2nd language. And if you are one that thinks the whole not understanding English thing is somehow considered “rude” on their part, then please revisit my earlier entry about language barriers, learn some French, or if it’s that annoying for you, just stay home. You’re not ready to leave the country anyway, and you’re giving the rest of us a “rude” name.