As an American, over the last ten years or so much has been said over the tepid relationship between The States and France and maybe more Parisians specifically. I’ve heard many stories of tourists visiting Paris and speaking to the rudeness of the locals, more so than anywhere else in the world. That being said, Paris is also a hot spot for American tourists, whom as we most can claim to have seen with our own eyes aren’t the most respectful of local culture at times.
As a regular traveler I always do my best to make myself aware of local customs and avoid any faux pas. So after visiting more cities in Europe than I can remember I finally had the City of Light on my calendar.
I arrived in Paris for a quick three night visit, eager to explore and experience Parisians for myself. After my first day, all is well, people seem friendly. At least as friendly as most large cities. Then came day two, I fell ill very quickly with strep throat. I had a fever, cough and sore throat. Poor timing to say the least.
I tried to make the best of it and still see the most I could. I got up and headed out. Not more than a couple hours later I was so floored I wasn’t sure what my options were. I headed to a local pharmacy where to my disadvantage, everything was behind the counter. I couldn’t just grab some cold meds and go. A pharmacist ask me a question in French along the lines of “do you need help”? Unable to speak French and not really able to speak well at all, I mumbled no thank you in English. “English” the pharmacist said. Yes. The man spoke great English and began asking what my symptoms were and patiently listened to me try to speak. After a few minutes I had a bag of everything I needed along with a bit of advice. Hell, I don’t get this good of service from back home! I said a very appreciative thank you and headed out.
When I arrived back at my hotel I had to give the receptionist my room number. Barely audible, I was able to get “204” out. Hearing my raspy voice she made me a cup of tea with lemon and brought me an orange from the kitchen and told me to rest.
I was able to salvage a bit more of my Paris visit after getting the cold meds. Luckily for me I had some very friendly and hospitable Parisians help me along the way and in turn debunking the stories I had heard.
Be kind, respectful and try to learn a few basic native words when you travel, it goes a long way.