Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tourists Behaving Badly

I have used enormous restraint since arriving here on May 20 in not detailing all of the terrible things that I observe tourists doing to Parisians.  There are many times when I have felt sorry for overwhelmed tourists and their swollen, wet feet arguing with their spouses about where to go for dinner while trying to read a map of a city they don't understand.  I know Paris can be assaulting and I know what it's like to feel overpowered by the city.  But today articles about a new brochure, "Do you speak Touriste?", that is being distributed to Parisians working in the tourism industry exploded in my online Paris world.  And I can't be restrained any longer.

I don't know why there is an expectation that just because Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world that every Parisian working in the tourism industry should not only be multilingual but especially fluent in English.  I think many tourists come here assuming the worst and they want to experience this famed Parisian rudeness much in the same way they want to see the Mona Lisa.  It's part of their Paris list, something for them to talk about when they are back home showing photos to friends on their iPad at The Donut Palace.   

I don't think it's difficult to be treated well in Paris: learn a few key words and phrases in French, lower your voice, dress appropriately, don't complain, and don't talk down to waiters, shop keepers or anyone that is assisting you.  Parisians are no different than anyone else in that they want to be treated with respect.  You are a guest in their beautiful city and travel is an opportunity to experience some of their culture.

Tourists behaving badly:
  • When my morning waitress at Le Petit Cler broke the devastating news, in flawless English, that they were out of croissants and instead offered a piece of lemon cake to a customer his reply came in a roar, "Lemon cake? No croissant?! I HATE lemons."
  • While sitting in another favourite café, a man barged in and demanded to fill his 1 litre collapsible water bottle that was hanging off his dress pants' belt loop with a carabiner.  The waiter didn't welcome the intrusion and he was sent on his way muttering about Parisians being rude.  
  • A man yelling "Olé!" at a waiter to indicate that he wanted his bill.
  • A young Lululemon clad woman drinking a Venti Starbucks while touring the interior of Notre Dame.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally agree, Erin. When we first travelled to Paris we were leery of experiencing the rude Parisians. Not so at all. Everyone was quite gracious and helpful. A delightful experience. Its all about our attitudes when we travel.. We get back what we put out there! Marisa.