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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    I would say to be more specific that the French seem snobby about their *LANGUAGE*...
    And so they should be, for French is Latin perfected.

  2. #82
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    I read an on an English speaker's blog about his experience learning and using French while in Paris. Unfortunately, I don't remember what the site was. Basically, he concluded that many American travelers may find Parisian workers (waiters, hotel staff, airport employees, etc) rude because they, essentially, don't go out of their way to kiss the customer's ass.

    Obviously, no matter what culture you are in, if you are polite, you will receive more respectful treatment. In this case of Parisians, one just has to rethink the notion of what it means to be polite; it isn't just about asking nicely or in French. His language skills weren't the problem. Instead, being more sympathetic to the worker's situations (complaining customers, technological difficulties, etc.), they rose above the average expectations of their duties and helped him.

    I guess "the customer's always right" just never caught on in Paris. By their logic, they provide the service, so you should be more grateful and less demanding.

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    Are you kidding?

    Belgian cuisine is one of the reasons why France would never accept to annex Wallonia.

    It's one of the worst country for food, along with England and Israel.

    ---

    Where have you been when you were in France? In which restaurants?
    I agree with England (except for the breakfast sausages, which are marvelous).

    On Belgium - it was simply my experience, having spent perhaps four or five weeks of total time in France (Paris and Riviera) and about a couple weeks worth of time in Brussels. The food in Belgium was better and less expensive. It's some of the best I've had. Maybe you should head over there on the TGV and check some of it out.

    As far as which restaurants in France - I should clarify that I do like French food. I can't remember the names but it varied from small cafes to very expensive ones on the Champs-Élysées. One in particular that I recall is Fouquets which was outrageously expensive for what you get. Better food and values seemed to be off the beaten path a bit. There is one French restaurant in the Chicago area called Le Titi de Paris that I love which is reasonably priced. There is also one in Chicago called Tru where I spent 900USD on a meal for two - nice to do once and incredible wine but not close to being worth it (I can bring my own bottle). Maybe some of this is just finding the right places.

    The time of travel was at various points over the last 12 years - business and pleasure, spring, summer, and winter.

    Really the food in San Francisco compares quite well to anywhere.

    Edit: And on the wine front, I suggest the French keep an eye on Argentina. There are some really amazing Malbecs out of there that to me compare to some of the best bordeaux (in my opinion).

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  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by surgery View Post
    I read an on an English speaker's blog about his experience learning and using French while in Paris. Unfortunately, I don't remember what the site was. Basically, he concluded that many American travelers may find Parisian workers (waiters, hotel staff, airport employees, etc) rude because they, essentially, don't go out of their way to kiss the customer's ass.

    Obviously, no matter what culture you are in, if you are polite, you will receive more respectful treatment. In this case of Parisians, one just has to rethink the notion of what it means to be polite; it isn't just about asking nicely or in French. His language skills weren't the problem. Instead, being more sympathetic to the worker's situations (complaining customers, technological difficulties, etc.), they rose above the average expectations of their duties and helped him.

    I guess "the customer's always right" just never caught on in Paris. By their logic, they provide the service, so you should be more grateful and less demanding.
    Yeah, "the customer's always right" is one of the most messed up things about American culture IMO, and it contributes to an overall cultural narcissism (and many other problems, though it is largely practiced by big corporations rather than smaller companies). Europeans in general don't do "the customer's always right" thing...I'm pretty pleased that I see "We Retain the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone" at plenty of small businessess and restaurants in L.A....though some are owned by Asians or Mexicans, not even Europeans.

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    I guess my point is that if you can speak fluent French, I'm sure they're much less condescending.
    even if your french is fluent, you're not necessarily home free. i've had some "pure laine" québécois friends who were mocked or mistaken for americans while travelling in france. osti de câlisse!

    i've only been to paris but i found the french no more or less accommodating than the people anywhere else i've been. i'm friends with a few ex-pats, even had a misguided fling with one. they seem to be proud of their heritage, but it's generally not been snobby.

    one exception would be one of three exchange students we were hosting who sat at my dining room table in front of my entire family and a special dinner we worked hard to put together and exclaimed "americans have no taste or manners".
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  6. #86
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    Yes, you're right. But Israeli food is one of the reasons why I would never want to make my Aliyah. Have you ever tried to find a single decent restaurant in Jerusalem?

    Israeli food is awful. And they have no excuse since they have excellent vegetables and farm products in kibbutzim.
    Yeah, I found restarurant food to be a bit average in Israel - Israeli chefs aren't quite there yet. There is a really amazing restaurant in Haifa though, which is always packed... but its run by Arabs... . However the fast food really does make up for it. The felafel and shawarma are unparalleled!

    Back on topic: I do think people are right to point to language. The French are very concerned about protecting their culture from outside influence (particularly from the UK and USA) and the language is the major battle ground. I think a mixture of patriotism and protectionism is involved with the snobbery.

    Slightly OT: my French friend did an experiment to see whether Parisians are rude to English speaking tourists by pretending to be one. She speaks perfect, accentless English, to the point of everyone thinking she is from Britain, so you can imagine how it went. Have a read if you like:

    It isn’t always wise to believe everything everybody tells you. But when your friends complain that Parisians don’t speak English and others, having heard the rumour, ask if it is indeed true that they are rude, unfriendly and unwilling to speak anything but French, you end up having doubts and organizing weird experiments in Paris.

    Believe it or not, being French myself, I have never addressed my fellow Frenchmen in their natural habitat in English. So today was a first time… my brother and I dressed up as tourists for the occasion: big backpack, hat, sunglasses, bottle of water, map, camera and even – drum roll – a small Eiffel tower dangling from my bag. We practiced looking lost and foreign in front of the mirror , and then set off.

    Well, it was a lot of fun. We came up to people and asked them if they knew how to get to famous tourist attractions. – in English. Then we had to pretend not to understand when they spoke French to us or their friends, stifle our giggles when the accent was too strong or when they got completely mixed up looking at the map. One person was particularly funny: “You go straight sur le bridge, and zen you continue sur la rue de Rivoli, the rue de Rivoli, you walk, and then you turn à gauche, et là, TAC! you see the Beaubourg.” Tac?!

    Anyway, here are the stats:
    _ sample size was 50 people
    _ out of these 50 people, 20 spoke enough English not to have to resort to sign language. The others just answered in a mixture of French and sign language. Sometimes, they would repeat French sentences, hoping that maybe we would understand the 2nd time - which of course we didn't (by the way, it's hard to look completely clueless when you do in fact understand everything somebody is telling you).
    _ 6 people were at least a little bit rude, but only 2 of them downright refused to help us.
    _ out of the 3 old ladies we approached, two spoke good English and were very helpful and friendly. The 3rd lady didn’t speak a word of English – actually, we never heard her voice. But chances are that you’ll have a great time talking to a French granny.

    There could be more stats showing how people respond according to their age and gender, but frankly, I can’t be bothered. The main conclusion is that I don’t really understand what people are complaining about; the Parisians we spoke to were usually helpful and friendly. Admittedly they didn’t speak English that well, but sign language is just hilarious and overall it was great fun talking to locals.

    If you need complex information though, I would advise you to learn French.
    A bon entendeur…

    Salut.
    I do think there is one flaw in this experiment: being French she doesn't have the cultural distance to discern what a Briton say, might find rude. It makes you wonder though, how much of the French's reputation is a cultural misunderstanding.

  7. #87
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    That's... actually really interesting.

    I have heard stories about fluent French speakers but native English speakers mocked in French and then going over and telling them off.


    But again. The question is not rudeness (which we have decided is a human trait), but rather snobbishness.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  8. #88
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    That's easy. A few generations ago they were the most powerful nation on the European Continent (until WWII), and commanded an empire surpassed only by the British. Now their empire is gone, they have little force projection capability (unlike their Brit counterparts) and they know it, and the international lingua franca is no longer French but English.

    So they're snobs because, as a culture, they're still bitter about the loss of their nation's status. This is a country that was feared as a mighty military power for centuries but nowadays all anyone in the rest of the world can remember (in the English-speaking world, at least) is their quick capitulation to the Germans during WWII.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    Yes, you're right. But Israeli food is one of the reasons why I would never want to make my Aliyah. Have you ever tried to find a single decent restaurant in Jerusalem?

    Israeli food is awful. And they have no excuse since they have excellent vegetables and farm products in kibbutzim.
    It's okay, but when you compare it to the surrounding countries...
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    Well. I'd say that the obvious obsession many Americans here have with French language is quite entertaining (it was fun to read EffEmm), but very, very far away from actual truth.

    It's YOUR obsession, not ours. Stop projecting.
    Well, if so many of us report it, is it really something we're projecting? Sometimes a culture's most painful flaws are the hardest to acknowledge. I enjoyed my time in Paris and liked the people. The language just seemed to be a sticking point.
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