I have been traveling to Europe and West Africa for more than twenty years. I studied anthropology and I love learning about people.
Rural France is beautiful especially Le Drome
They Are Not Mean, They're French!
Americans tend to be more outwardly expressive than many other nationalities. We also are used to affirmation from the person we are speaking with, as if to reassure ourselves that they take us seriously. The French, although very expressive in speaking gestures and even facial mannerisms, do not, for want of a better word, 'gush.' The education system leads to the formation of folk who appreciate order, politeness, and a certain gravity, even humility. For example, when asking a question in an office, bakery, or airport, it's good to start with "Excuse me, don't mean to bother you, but....." and to precede this phrase, whether in French or English, with "Bonjour." Once that first phase has been achieved, the going gets easier! Excusez moi de vous deranger...mais...[your question here]
Be Calm and Be Confident
The French appreciate someone who can, in French "se maitriser." This means to control oneself, to be calm and to the point. Your calmness will communicate that you are confident and in control of yourself, if not the present situation. And just like Americans may be proud of America, the French are proud of France. Don't hesitate to express your appreciation of your surroundings and keep some of those comparisons to the United States to yourself. Be confident, many French are sincerely intrigued by America and Americans, and would like to get to know you. It is true that sometimes they will seem abrupt in the beginning, but just hang in there and you will see that communication will get progressively better. Relax and enjoy the ride. Appreciate the opportunity of being a stranger!!
Outside of Paris, be prepared to take your time and enjoy the scenery
France in September
Totally by accident, I realized this year that September and October are wonderful months to visit France. Everyone is back from the month-long vacation in August, children are returning to school, and the weather is good. I was really glad to visit more than one place, as people are different in different locales. Paris and Avignon are both fabulous cities with very different things to offer!
A leisurely meal is a great way to observe your surroundings and enjoy local cuisine
Melanie Stark (author) from East Coast, USA on October 12, 2021:
Thanks, Mr. Happy, for the feedback!
Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on October 12, 2021:
Great little article! I did not find French people to be mean but I do speak some French and I am also European so, I sort of knew what to expect.
Visiting in September is probably a better idea than going there in the middle of the summer. I did that and Paris was super-full of tourists. The queue to visit the Louvre was too long so, I visited Musee D'Orsay. That was priceless!
Thank You for the article - great photos as well! Cheers!