Folium: Do You Speak Touriste? via NBCNews
Tourism is big business. Attracting, entertaining and ensuring a steady flow of tourists is a world-wide industry. France is currently the world’s top destination for foreign tourists; the city of Paris was visited by 29 million people in 2011. By comparison, London attracted approximately 15.3 million international visitors the same year. The significant amount of business Parisian tourists bring to hotels, restaurants and museums accounts for one out of every ten jobs and is a welcome economic boost at a time of depressed domestic consumption.
“Paris would be great, if it weren’t for the French.” Paris is, and always has been, regarded as an ill-mannered city. Parisians are frequently impatient and easily annoyed. But their occasional bad manners are insignificant when compared to the daily behavior of New York City residents. And, you don’t have to fear for your life if you take an evening stroll along the Seine.
Opinions abound regarding the manner in which tourists are received in Paris–specifically American tourists. The stereotype presents Parisians as rude to outsiders and unwilling to converse in French.
There are two separate issues at play. The first involves how the city of Paris perceives its tourists. Every metropolitan area has its own personality and its inhabitants are products of their environment. Having visited several large metropolitan areas around the world, Parisians are no ruder than New York City dwellers. And, in New York City, residents aren’t just rude to tourists–they are rude to everyone.
The other issue involves how Americans act when they are tourists. On a recent student group trip to Europe, the Americans were slow, overburdened with luggage and couldn’t be bothered to figure out the monetary system. Some Americans held out their hands to a Parisian patisserie owner and said, “You figure it out!” That sounds pretty rude to me.
The LEAF Project
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0