It was in Julia Child's lush book My Life in France that she observed - and here I am paraphrasing in the cruelest way - that the French are not rude, but they are proud. Proud of their culture, their history, the almost aggressive beauty of their country, their food, etc., and etc. Her observation struck me for two reasons: First, though I have never experienced a travel anecdote worthy moment of French (specifically Parisian) rudeness, I admit that I have often walked the streets of Paris in half-anxious anticipation of such a moment. Second, I live in a city that for much of the year is overrun by tourists frothing at their fanny packs at the promise of spending time in a city that has often been rather depressingly marketed as "Little England". with the added bonus of scenic ocean and mountain views and marine wildlife. It is a city that is no stranger to Conde Nast's "top ten lists" (http://tourismmall.victoria.bc.ca/victoria/) and it is a city that can bring out the worst, as in the rudest of rude manners of locals, myself included.
Perhaps then rudeness is best measured in relative terms. If you live in a place that boasts a two-lane bridge and a Dairy Queen as its star tourist attractions, then as a resident of such a town, you can ill afford to be unwelcoming to any poor tourist that stops on the bridge to take a photograph. But if, like me, you live in a "top ten" destination, where during certain months of the year negotiating your favourite local street to get your lunchtime sandwich becomes a nationality obstacle course and your emotions get the better of you, then you can perhaps understand the French tendency towards exasperation.