Despite the fact that a google search turned up 20 million hits (that sound you heard was my mind blowing), this is just not true. I’ve always fought against this stereotype since I have never experienced across-the-board incivility when in France. (That would have been in Italy where everyone is an asshole.) As “evidence” of the Gallic cold shoulder, foreigners cite how they never smile. Not true: the French only smile at people they already know, and they usually have to have met you a couple times before they consider they “know” you.
To my way of thinking, they just know that they have an awesome country with great food and culture, and they don’t suffer fools, gladly or otherwise. However, I have also found the French to be exceedingly polite, almost to a fault. These are people who still exhibit remarkable decorum on a regular basis because that’s just comme il fait.
Two examples: Continue reading