Skip to main content

Paris tries to befriend tourists ... by stereotyping them

By James Durston, CNN
June 21, 2013 -- Updated 1436 GMT (2236 HKT)
No longer will this be a terrifying sight, if a new 'charm school' initiative in Paris pays off.
No longer will this be a terrifying sight, if a new 'charm school' initiative in Paris pays off.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New advice manual to be given to taxi drivers, waiters, hotel staff
  • Provides tips: Brazilians, Dutch like freebies; Chinese enjoy shopping
  • Around 29 million visitors to Paris each year may benefit

(CNN) -- Type in "French are" into Google, and one of the top auto-complete items that pops down is "French are rude."

That exact phrase "French are rude" comes back with 93,000 Google results.

And France topped out a poll last year of rudest countries to travelers.

It's a common stereotype, but it could soon be inaccurate if a new 'charm-school' initiative pays off.

Tourists will no longer encounter surly waiters or boorish hotel staff, in Paris at least, if they apply the advice from a new tourist manual about befriending visitors, launched by the Paris tourist board and Paris Chamber of Commerce.

doyouspeaktouriste.fr offers tips on how to assist Brits -- they want personalized advice and like to breakfast between 7.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. -- and look after Chinese -- they appreciate original luxury shopping suggestions and require nothing more than a smile and a "ni hao" to consider you agreeably polite.

Other nationalized tips include:

Parisians given manual to stop rudeness

Americans: Expect quick, personalized service; fluency in English

Germans: Enjoy cleanliness and a handshake

Belgians: Prefer budget hotels and Wi-Fi

Brazilians: Like physical contact and taxis

Spanish: Look for free things; eat dinner between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

French: Enjoy sampling international food; don't want to be considered a "tourist"

Italians: Eager to explore; welcome attention on their kids

Japanese: Often need to be reassured; never complain; bow frequently

Dutch: Look for free things; enjoy digital information

If it sounds like France is trying to overcome its own national stereotype by spreading others, that's only partly true.

"You don't welcome a Japanese tourist the same way as an Italian one. There are codes to take into account, so you have to adapt," Jean-Pierre Blat, general director of the Paris area tourist board, told The Telegraph.

France has had its share of bad publicity where tourism is concerned in recent months.

In April the Louvre Museum closed after a spate of thefts, and in May a man shot himself in front of horrified tourists in the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Officials are passing the new guide to taxi drivers, hotel and restaurant staff and others most frequently in contact with the city's 29 million visitors each year.

It's not a new idea.

China did something similar before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, informing citizens that spitting, cutting queues and clearing your throat loudly may not be as tolerable to tourists as they are to locals.

China has recently taken its politeness initiative outside its own borders too, launching campaigns to teach tourists how to behave while abroad.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
The guidebook asked staff, contributors and authors for well-known and lesser-known recommendations.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
An airport in Asia has stolen the crown from Manila's Ninoy Aquino, voted 'world's worst' three years in a row.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
It's time for a beef break, veal vacation, hog holiday or sinew sabbatical in a T-bone a-fide U.S. meatopolis.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many awesome new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 0107 GMT (0907 HKT)
Scientists are busy surveying Southeast Asia's Coral Triangle, home to 75 percent of all known coral species.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
Bounce Below in Wales
Bounce Below transforms an abandoned slate mine into a surreal, springy world of fear and fun,
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2316 GMT (0716 HKT)
With chopsticks or fingers? Wasabi or no? A double Michelin-starred Tokyo chef sets the record straight and shows us the sushi way.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2224 GMT (0624 HKT)
Markthal Rotterdam foodhall in the Netherlands.
It may look like a gateway across time and space crafted with alien technology, but in reality it's a fruit and vegetable market.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Based on the votes of over 330 industry experts, the 2014 winners include bars from 27 cities in 14 countries.
October 12, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
Careening down an active volcano at 95 kph on a thin board? It happens only at Cerro Negro in Nicaragua.
ADVERTISEMENT