Parisian Rudeness

There is a long standing urban myth that Parisians are quite rude. Many people visiting the City of Lights have reported how rude and impolite the inhabitants of this gorgeous city were to them. Me and some of my friends were truly mystified by this odd sentiment, and now I’m going to offer my take on it.

The reason why some people feel that Parisians are rude occurred to me one morning, as I was ordering my takeout coffee (cafe creme ou a importer). The barrista made my coffee and handed it to me with the usual two small pouches of sugar. I took it, and following my North American habits, turned around and started looking for the condiments station. This is where you’ll typically park your coffee in order to add some more condiments, such as extra cream, milk, soya milk, almond milk, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract, crap like that, you name it. All these things are offered for free in all North American coffee shops, but were nowhere to be found in the Parisian cafe.

Well, excuse the feck out of me, but how rude! Why is it that I, the paying customer, cannot get all these condiments for free?

Then it occurred to me: in Paris, you as the customer are not always right. There are people who specialize in making good products (such as this awesome cafe creme I was about to enjoy). They know how to do their job, they’ve received proper training (on top of being already quite talented at what they do), so your role as a customer is to just sit back, accept their expertise, enjoy it, and move on. Why would that be considered rude, in the final analysis?

Typical Parisian cafe creme with two small pouches of sugar




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4 responses to “Parisian Rudeness

  1. As travelers going somewhere means we are entering different territory geographically and culturally. Understanding traditions, gestures, and values of people must become the first priority in our itinerary just to avoid misunderstandings.

    For instance “do you want food?” gesture in East Indian culture means “What the f**k?” in Italian culture. So you see where the confusion begins.

    Trying to behave according to our culture in a place like France with strong identity, a long lived and beautifully thrived culture would definitely cause some misunderstandings.

    We should park our way of life and get on theirs. We must become Parisian to be accepted and treated well. I personally never met even one impolite Parisian simply because I tried to understand them first and then blend in. That was fun when I saw Parisian’s confused faces when they spoke to me in French and then realize I was not from there. I was told of their confusions so many times, and that’s just because I didn’t look like a tourist at all.

    After all we have to remember Paris is no Disnelyland.

  2. A funny moment with an American visitor involved Cafe au Lait. My friend wanted a decaf with skimmed milk. Haha… I explained that IF there is even such a thing as skimmed milk in France that a cafe was the last place you’d find it and decaf? It was not Starbucks. I asked for what she wanted anyway in my bestest broken french and learned that I was indeed correct.

    Not satisfied, in her bestest American English she demanded that the water bring her a decaf latte in skimmed milk. 🙂 He could only shrug. She thought he was rude, not for his manner, but for not having what she wanted, which wasn’t available anywhere (except Starbucks).

    • Hahaha, true, I could not agree more. People seem appalled that Paris is lacking certain things that are given in North America. Such as, for example, wheelchair accessibility on every street corner. But where would you build an on/off ramp when all the street corners are occupied by the cafe terrace chairs and tables?

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