Who says the French are rude?

The two times I’ve stayed in Paris I’ve found the majority of locals to be extraordinarily kind and polite. I appear to be in a minority though, as many people say the French are rude! As I use a motorised wheelchair due to my disability of quadriplegia, I’m ‘forced’ to interact more often with strangers than non-disabled people. I need to ask people to open doors, pass me items from supermarket shelves that I can’t reach, pick up something I may drop, and even ask servers to cut my food.

I rely on the kindness of French strangers.

So, if the French are apparently so rude, how do I cope in their country? On my first day in the hotel in Paris last year, I told the staff I was in Paris to speak as much French as possible. From then on, they corrected me and praised my attempts. One concierge even lent me her childhood French verb conjugation books from her home for me to use during my stay When I was in the Musée d’Orsay recently, I ate at the beautiful restaurant there. Because I can’t grasp a knife, I tend to choose meals that I can eat with just a fork or spoon. That was all good until I ordered bread and cheese. The pieces of cheese were quite big (no problem with that in theory!) and I looked at my plate thinking how I could eat without looking like a farmer on a lunch break in the back paddock? Up came a waitress and she asked me quietly if I would like her to break and butter the bread and slice the cheese for me. Not only that, she arranged the cheese beautifully on the bread for me. Another time I was in a café and the waiter put my change onto the table. A Frenchman leant over and told me to put my change into my handbag and secure my bag more firmly (to stop the pickpockets stealing both).

The Frenchman who gave me accurate direction

The rumours of Parisians giving tourists incorrect directions are old and tired. One day I was so lost it was no longer funny. I was hot and completely worn out. I could see I was nowhere near anywhere I should be (curse this adventurous spirit of ‘have wheelchair will travel!’) A Frenchman came up to me and asked if I needed help. I said yes, I didn’t know where I was. He gave me directions and off I went. I became frustrated soon after when a footpath became inaccessible. Up came this man again (clearly he had been watching me to make sure I was okay). He pointed out another direction and walked with me until we came to a road I knew. So much for 'rude French hey?

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About Sandra E Brown

I withdrew from my Masters (Neuropsychology) to write a blog instead, and to teach English as a second language. Life is too short to be doing something you want to retire from at 65! I now live in Paris, France.
This entry was posted in Adapting to a new country, Difficulties integrating in new country, French language, How to live in Paris, Integration in a new country, Living in Paris, Paris, Quadriplegia. Bookmark the permalink.

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