The “Unfriendly” Parisian

I recently came across this Financial Times article “uncovering” why Parisians are so damn nasty and had to share it. I actually don’t agree with the author’s findings, but it’s still an interesting read if you’re an expat like me. Perhaps I should also share it with Frenchies who aren’t Parisians too…

When I first arrived in Burgundy last weekend, which is about a 3 and a half hour drive from Paris, I thought, “Wow, the hotel owners are really nice”. And they smile! Can you believe it, a smile?! I figured it was a one-time occurrence, but what do you know… I met several other people in Burgundy who were really nice too! I know I’ve said it before, but you really do know you’ve been living in Paris for a while when you’re thrown off by friendly faces and service.

It’s funny because when I told the hotel owners, wine tour guide and the wine producer that I lived in Paris, all of them made a comment about how unfriendly Parisians were. Sandrine, the owner of Hôtel du Palais, chalked it up to Parisians being so busy. I don’t know how true that is since New Yorkers tend to be busy people and they are definitely friendlier and quicker with a smile. I think what it comes down to for the French is a city vs. country situation. Parisians look down on those who live in the countryside, and vice versa. I’m guilty of it too when it comes to NYC versus the South, Midwest or any place that’s a “square state”. (And yes, I know it’s wrong and I’m joking… kind of.)

So are Parisians unfriendly or not? Obviously you can’t generalize an entire population, but, I will say this… they simply take more time to open up. Parisians themselves will readily admit that many of them are “closed”, and it is true. But are they horrid? Absolutely not! Oui, some of them can be… just as some Americans can be as well.

One of the perks of being a determined American is we (hopefully) eventually succeed in breaking through that tough Parisian exterior. And as I write this, I’m thinking about that haggard, middle-aged baker at boulangerie Delmontel who has yet to smile at me or even feign any sign of recognition after weekly visits to purchase my favorite crudité gruyère sandwich. Actually. come to think of it, the past few times I’ve been there they never have that sandwich anymore. Maybe they stopped making it so I’d stop coming around…

Look, here I am smiling anyway.
A Smile

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