A Beginners Guide to the French

French People

A playful Guide to the French, from a "tourist's" perspective.

Tiens! So, you're planning a trip to France and have heard some things (i.e. stereotypes) about the French, right? We offer the following as a light-hearted guide to some typical myths; to share what's true and what's not-so-true, and how to deal with both. Remember a French vacation is one of the best things you can do. The best way to verify these rumors is to go to Paris and France, you will not regret it!

Typical Sterotypes

1. The French are rude!

From an American perspective this is partially true.

Basically, it is not that French people are rude - foreigners just perceive them that way because our social styles are so different. For instance, in America, smiling is synonymous with politeness. In France, people don't require a smile to be considered polite. They only smile when they feel like it, not because it is expected. In America, the smile has become our polite mask which we use everyday in every encounter. Personally, I feel it is much more liberating to be able to wear our "real" faces when in public, don't you?  If you smile at someone, and they do not smile back, please do not take it personally.  There is no insult behind it at all. Now, as it is in any country, you may actually encounter a genuinely rude person.  Even after all these years, I still remember a certain French waiter at a Montparnasse cafe in Paris who was a caricature of "bad attitude". He was probably at the end of a 14 hour shift. He spared no one.  French and tourists alike got a piece of his 'bad day'. If you happen to encounter an over-worked waiter in a cafe, simply keep your  interaction with him to a minimum. Don't take it personally.  Keep in mind that Paris (where most complain of the rudeness factor) is a huge urban city like any other - full of tired and grumpy people. The smaller the town you visit, the less likely you are to meet a grouchy Frenchman. It's akin to the New York cliché of someone "stealing your cab" or the "soup Nazi" from TV show "Seinfeld".  Also keep in mind that in France, general 'moodiness' is far more socially acceptable, even in customer service roles - though this is changing.   They embrace it as part of being human.  For the French, certain social niceties can even be perceived as hypocritical, so until they understand our culture better, it would be against their values to be 'hypocritical' by wearing a smile when they don't want to. To them, personal values and maintaining integrity is more important than pleasing others falsely. I know that sounds very strange to American ears, but since it is part of their culture, and everyone is similar - it works for them just fine.  It's a good thing.

All that said, outward expressions of actual  rudeness in Paris are still very rare.  As a tourist, you will most likely never encounter one.  The most you may ever see may be a bad look or some other minor facial expression; certainly nothing to get upset about!  Of course more and more French professionals in the tourism business are becoming increasingly sensitive to the customs of their visitors, and so they are actively training service employees to understand these cultural differences better.  Tourism is a major industry in France. It is possible that 'the French are rude' stereotype will fall by the wayside altogether in the future.
This has been the case since many years, in upscale or luxury hotels.

2. The French have BO (body odor)!

French perfume This is a partially true stereotype, again based on a basic cultural difference. In the USA, we have a near obsession with covering up natural smells. Perhaps .1% of Americans have BO, whereas in France the rate may be a bit higher; 1%(?). Not everyone in France has BO, but some do. Either way, the difference is that people are simply less bothered by it in France. I can personally  testify to this cultural difference. Before living in the US, I never noticed "BO". To me, some people had a personal aroma, nothing more. I never really stopped to think about it. Even less did I try to analyze exactly what the odor was.

Interestingly, some people actually find a 'personal scent' rather sexy! This cultural difference is quite ancient. Henri IV, King of France (1589-1610), wrote to one of his mistresses, "Madame, I will be visiting you in 8 days. Do not wash!" (In French: "Madame, je serai chez vous dans 8 jours, ne vous lavez plus").

Today, in modern times, it is highly unlikely you will encounter any French people with bad BO. If you do, just don't focus on it, and as always, don't take it personally! Whomever is emanating it does not mean to offend you at all, so why be offended?

3. All French People Speak English, They Just Choose Not To

This is not true. Although most French children are taught English in school, it is only as a second language and should not be assumed. I would guess that 1 in 10 Parisians speak English  (fewer in the country side) well enough to actually attempt a response. Sometimes people that could speak a few words in a foreign language still might not because of a "certain" shyness. As a tourist, you can understand that! Everyone is afraid of sounding silly. Assume innocence, and have compassion. It will be returned to you ten fold.

French language Tip: Learn three or four good French words or phrases. They will serve you well.
Bonjour "Hello" (If you learn 1 word this is the one, use it every time you meet someone)
Oui "Yes"
Non "No"
Au revoir or if that is too difficult to pronounce, just Bye-bye

You will hear this tip all the time. We have verified its value through a good friend from California. He does not speak French, but knows about 10 words and is not shy about using them repeatedly. I've seen him spend hours and even days having a good time with French people all over France (Paris, South-west, Provence, Riviera, etc.) and giving them a good time in return. Most French will perceive your efforts, and in exchange, will use their few words of English in reply if they can. Un-official sign language is also handy (use your hands and eyes to speak!) Don't be afraid. If you don't fully understand something, the meaning will usually be perceivable through instinct. This pseudo-speak can literally last for hours. I've seen it happen. It's amazing.

 

Comments

Feedback

Its a great myth buster and a helping tool, especially for me & my family.

Keep the good messages flowing

Thanks Upinder!

Thanks Upinder!

We have much experience touring French with Friends and its our primary inspiration for these tips/articles.
But suggestions, questions, guidance is always appreciated and welcomed.

We will try to keep the good tips rolling...

I dont think so!

Good article, but I really think the French are REALLY rude. They should be grateful that tourists visit their country, instead, just like their president Chiraq, they are rude and unfriendly. It has nothing to do with the smile, it is the general attitude. I have tried talking to French people with French words, which I have picked up with a book I carry at all times when in France. But still, most of them have been unfriendly and rude and some of them denied to assist me with directions etc. The greatest myth however is that Paris is a great city. I find it a stinking city filled with dog waste wherever you go. Now how is that for a Honest True Myth Buster

That's Okay! :)

Hello Euro Traveller! Thank you for your comment.

Sounds like you had a really ‘stinky’ time in Paris! (smile) We are sorry to hear that and hope you had a chance to venture into the French countryside or other parts of Europe that might have been more to your liking. Yes, I know what you mean about the doggie doo-doo. A wise man will certainly watch where he steps in the city! Still, last time I visited (which was recent) I honestly didn’t see any at all. I was also surprised to notice how many more people were speaking English. In one restaurant, the waitress even addressed me in English first presuming I was not a native. Very kind. Anyway, I do not wish to discount your experience. There are many to be had. Thank you again for sharing!

FrenchFriends.info

I do think so, my rude compatriot!

I’ve visited France many times. I’ve even taken several road trips around “La Belle Pays” in the company of American and French friends. The strange thing is that I’ve never encountered the famed French rudeness to Americans that so many of my compatriots, such as “Buster”, mentions. I’ve had French citizens not only give me directions, but also lead me to a location I was trying to find. In one instance, a businessman on his way to work drove miles out of his way to lead a friend (another American) and myself to the entrance to Versailles.

Shamefully, my fellow countrymen, Americans, have committed the majority of the rudeness I have seen in France. It is arrogant to think that everyone in a large city, such as Paris, who have jobs and a life to attend to will have the time to stop their lives to assist a surly American, such as Buster, speaking an intelligible version of French from a book. The maps of Paris are among the best for any city I have visited, and guess what, Buster, you can get them in your native tongue. They are very easy to use and understand if you have half a brain.

Having lived and worked in several large American cities that are often visited by folks from foreign lands, I have not always been able to expend the time and energy to assist folks when they have asked for assistance in broken English from a book. I’ve never been rude to them, but it’s possible that some might have considered me so because I have to attend to my own life. Maybe they think, like Buster does, that I denied them help, but I doubt it because it sadly seems to be Americans who are more prone to take offense when someone doesn’t speak their language or kowtow to them.

The last time I visited Paris was three months ago, and I didn’t encounter the dog feces and stench of which Buster speaks. You’d think by Buster’s comments that American cities are pristine. I haven’t found that to be true. I can’t mention how many times I have had to avoid human feces when walking around some areas in American cities. I guess Buster finds dog feces more offensive than the human feces he runs into at home.

The French don’t have to be thankful that tourists visit their nation. There is a reason that it is one of the most visited nations in the world. I have found it to be a beautiful land, with beautiful cities, warm people, a superior cuisine, a strong and fascinating culture, and the best damn wine in the world.

The bottom line is that rudeness begets rudeness. I have not encountered rudeness in many cities famed for rudeness – New York, Paris, Los Angeles, etc. What I have found is that people like Buster who constantly whine about rudeness tend to find rudeness because of their own boorish behavior. Anywhere in the world, if you treat people with respect, they will return the favor. I’ve found that to be true in all of my travels.

The mention of President Chriac is probably the most telling of Buster’s true mission. He’s upset because of political reasons. Saying “No” is not rude, Buster! I’m not especially fond of all of Chriac’s policies, but I have never found him to be rude. Actually, I’ve been impressed by his restraint and diplomacy, and maybe most of all by his being able to speak my native tongue, English, better than my own President.

Thanx Bill

Hi guys,
I'm french and had the best moment reading those!
I knew french people are known to be grumpy end kind of rude but didn't know about the BO (kinda learnt this one right now actually.
Anyhow, french people can have this thing about never being happy about nothing... We like to argue about things indeed! But I think that it is in PAris you will find the grumpiest, unefriendliest people in France!
Come to Brittany (western part of France) You'll meet really nice people!
It also true that most of french people don't really know how to speak proper English... Sorry About that! We start learning English in primary school nowadays, but, for some reason, it just does not work for most of french people!
An about the language thing like 'excité', "je suis pleine" etc, it is so true!! Please, if you go to France, don't say that! I don't think anyone would make fun of you (because we're not that rude !!), but they would smile!
Last thing: let's just "LE BEAU pays" ;) because 'la belle pays' is not correct!
Merci de vous intéresser à mon pays, je vous souhaite de passer du bon temps en France!!!
Et joyeuses fêtes de fin d'année :)

Reply to Buster

Thank you so much, Bill, for speaking with your heart and brain in your reply to Buster.

You find ugly and dirty places as well as rude people everywhere, in any city, any country. As well as beautiful monuments and landscapes, nice, helpful and polite people. Being systematic is being rude when it comes to judging people.

Yves

Thanks a lot Bill

Sorry, I know this is an old post but I had to reply to you :D
I'm glad you had a good time in France and thanks for your kind comment!
Every time I travel abroad I hear all kind of stereotypes about the French and I'm tired of having to justify myself all the time just because of my nationality.
I don't like stereotypes and sometimes they can be offensive. When I went to the US, one of the first things my host family did was to show me how to use soap and the bathroom. I was a bit shocked that they thought we never washed.
They had all kind of stereotypes about French people. It made me a little bit sad.
Luckily I met a lot of great people there who made me forget that strange experience haha.

Anyway, thanks again! If you want to visit Strasbourg, just tell me :D

Points well taken

Bill,

I deeply appreciate, and can relate to, your comments. As an American who has spent much time in France, I can also personally attest that I have never encountered this alleged rudeness, nor have I ever seen this allegedly commonplace assemblage of dog feces.

Contrariwise, I have found most French people, Parisians included, to be kind and generous people. It's only that there is a certain precondition to their kindness, and this goes with all people generally, the expect to be treated respectfully. Precisely as you said, Bill, the French do not owe visitors anything. The attitude that I take when visiting any place that is new to me, and this applies every bit as much to American cities as to foreign cities, is that this place belongs to the people that live there. I am a visitor, and I have come to experience the uniqueness of that particular place. I will treat the residents of that city in precisely the same way that I would treat a person who has invited me into their home, with respect and courtesy.

It is unreasonable to visit a foreign place and expect that everything be catered to your whims. Paris is a legitimate city where people live and work, it is no theme park wherein all is designed to suit your fancies. Visitors, please realize that France is a foreign country and has a unique culture that might be somewhat different from yours. But above all, keep in mind, that when you are visiting France, it is you who is foreign.

It is generally a good idea to learn a few phrases and words of the language common to any place that you visit. Contrary to the popular myth that the French will be insulted by your rusty French, you will more than likely find that people will be grateful that you have made an effort to communicate on their terms. If they speak English, chances are they will be eager to practice their English with you, but only if you approach them politely and show that you are also willing to make an effort. My French is decent, but hardly perfect, and instead of being scoffed at, people are usually impressed by my efforts--they may politely show me the correct pronunciation or diction, but I am always grateful for the advice, and they are always generous about it.

The greatest lesson is that French people have the same expectations that every person has, to be treated respectfully. Surely you would also expect no less.

Bill stated with perfect succinctness, and I hope that you will take it to heart, "Rudeness begets rudeness."

You forgot to say the magic

You forgot to say the magic words "Excusez-moi de vous déranger monsieur, mais j'ai un problème...." Be polite and others will help you. And as for Paris, it is like any other big city. Go to NYC and even as an American people won't help you. They think you're a mugger or whatever, and what i found to be most true... They just have shit to do. If this doesn't help alleviate your hatred, just don't go to France.

Hello, More than four years

Hello,

More than four years after your comment, this is my french-side answer : If you visited Paris, then you only visited Paris and not France. All regions/departments are very different each other in term of general moodness, lifestyle and landscapes.

I live in the southern region of France and I have to tell you this is SO DIFFERENT from Paris. People are really more open-minded, the weather is just fantastic and people are glad to help anybody because it's part of an inner culture, more "latin" than in the north, east or west of France. Every regions have their good and bad points, as in every country in the world.

By the way, as you can see my english is not so crap and that's the case for quite a lot of french people, especially youngs. And our accent can be... well, good is a great term, I'll just say "correct".

So please, don't judge us by our capital city or our last president, as I don't judge you because of endemic obesity and your last president. That doesn't represent all a population.

Well, not every french dude

Well, not every french dude has time to engage conversation... remember that, if you're in Paris for holidays, they're working there, so a lot of them just don't have time to speak... but, if you speak to them at a bar, or in a park, they surely speak to you. It just depends of the time of the day (and of the day of the week) ; like anywhere else, people in Paris are more relax at night than during the day, when they're walking in the streets, getting out of the office or going to.
And some others just take pleasure to loose tourists through Paris ! They're generally teenagers walking by groups... avoid teenagers !!! or just look to the look on they're face, if they seems to laugh at you you probably should confirm the information they just gave you with someone else...
for the rest french people are not so rude, just remember to leave a bit of you're "american spirit" at home !

Sorry, but 54 millions French are not Parisians!

What French hate the most when foreigners talk about France is that they assimilate France to Paris. Paris is not part of France, it's just a no man's land located somewhere in north of France, a city full of technocrats who want to give orders to all the rest of France. Parisians are hated everywhere in France, exactly for the reasons you've mentioned: they are so rude, and even worse. But the 54 millions remaining French are not Parisians. You should go in Brittany, in the Alps, the South West, the Massif central, etc. Nothing to do at all. The only exception may be the 'Côte d'Azur: to be avoided absolutely in summer - too many rich Parisians spending their holidays down there.

Bye the way, I've lived 15 years in Canada. No offense, but for Canadians, French and Americans are so much alike: pretentious, condescending, showing-off. In terms of speaking foreign languages, French are reluctant to speak English, true, but they do understand most of it, read it without any problem, and they usually speak at least two foreign languages since it's mandatory at school. Americans are in no position to criticize French in that regards, since for them, the States are the centre of world and most of them never passed their borders!

All this goes to show that nothing is so simple!

Yves

I am really sorry that you

I am really sorry that you didn't have a good time in France! Yes, there are some rude people in France, like everywhere else.
If I had met you I would have been happy to help you!
It depends on where you go. But it's not because you met some rude French people that we all are like this.
I find it pretty offensive when someone generalizes and assume that all the French are rude.
When I went to New York I met some great people, and some rude people who were completely over the line. It's the same in every country.
I don't like stereotypes. It's like saying that all the Americans are fat and stupid, it's not true.

I hope you come to France again and maybe change your mind :D

Yes that's normal...

your comment reminds me of a story: a guy who wants to move to another city goes to an old guy and asks him 'how are people here because where I come from they are so rude, unpleasant, curious about others' lifes...' and the old guy tells him 'same thing here'.

The next day another guy who also wants to move in that city goes to the same old man and asks 'how are people here because where I come from they are so sweet, caring and good neighbors, I hope I'll find the same kind of people here' and the old guy tells him 'same thing here'.

Basically a lot of one's experience will also depends on how you want to look at things and who you are yourself.

And you are a very rude person!

First of all, after what, a few day of vacation in one city you just think you know it all about a whole nation and you allow yourself to insult this nation entirely.
For instance I helped a lot of tourists when I was living in Paris and was even rewarded with a little present once.

But there can also be really rude tourists and I remember one american guy who stopped me in the street with no hello, no please, no excuse me do you speak english, but only with a 'where is the Eiffel Tower'. Of course this one got a 'sorrrrry I do not speak English'. And despite what you pretend I can picture you so well being that way...

Rudenessin Paris, NOT

Just returned from Paris and had a wonderful time. I did not run into one person who was rude. Sorry you had such a bad experience. I'm glad my trip was everything I thought it would be.

Thanks

Wow this is a simple to understand, interesting guide about the french, their culture and social interaction. I loved it!

I think one of the best ways to avoid rudeness in france is to take no notice of it or not be constantly expecting to be treated rudely.

I think in our society (australia), we smile to much unneccessarily, especially in retail roles. Just because a customer walks into a shop we have been trained to put on a large fake smile in attempts to make them feel welcome and come off as polite.

either way this guide should aid many in their venture to Paris :)

a beginners guide to french. Reply to Buster

I have travelled all over the world, lived in different countries, adapted to new life styles and I didn't try to impose my own ways. Of course, I have encountered a few rude people ( Yes, even in the USA. By the way, I am British. We are a reserved lot and too much loud friendliness can be a bit scarry at times. I know it is not meant to be rude, but most Europeans do not like too much familiarity and personal questions can be viewed as indiscrete); Many people have been friendly and pleased to see I was genuinely interested in them. The French are like anyone else, some nice, some less nice, although I must say I find them friendly enough and ready to help (most young people study English and are pleased to have the opportunity to show their skills). I haven't met many rude waiters. My advice: Try to say bonjour, s'il vous plaît and merci. Don't be over demanding and expect things to be " like at home". Why traveling then? . I assure you it works. French waiters don't think ( and rightly so) they are an inferior race, so don't talk down to them. When you ask for directions or want to buy a baguette, start with bonjour and smile. The French do smile too, probably not as often as Americans. But who wants to hear from a waiter with a beaming smile " missing you already" as you are leaving? How phony!
I have settled in France and live in the South. I love it, in spite of the sometimes dirty footpaths in Marseilles. The French love dogs and take them everywhere. I agree it is not pleasant to walk in "it" , but efforts are being made to make big cities cleaner. I also have a dog and enjoy taking him to my favourite pubs and restaurants. It is part of the ambiant joie de vivre.
It is true rudeness begets rudeness and I am often appaled at the way tourists (including British tourists. Some behave like if France was a British colony ). You often get what you deserve. I hope I didn't give the impression I didn't like Americans. I have many American friends ( mind it, not the " back home, everything is better" type).
As for Chirac, he might not have achieved great things for his country ( he saved it from being bombed by not sending troops to Irak. Tha't not bad, considering the problems Blair caused us), but he certainly was never rude. He is a well-mannered man and was totally entitled to disagree with a certain American president... many people did. A rude bunch, hey, Buster?

Rude comments-- not just rude facial expressions.

Ok. Facial expressions are one thing. I get that the French may not necessarily be a smiley people. But it seems that the things they SAY are down right rude! There is no explanation for this in this article... I just read an article by an American dual citizen in France who was told "We only have this problem with Anglo-Saxon mothers." In regard to this mom not wanting her 3 year old to take an overnight trip in England without her! There are so many problems with that statement! (Assuming that this mother is Anglo-Saxon is just one of the smallest of things wrong with this statement! One gets the feeling that this teacher was trying to avoid saying what she really meant: "We only have this problem with non-French mothers.") Now it could be that this is just one person, behaving rudely on her own, but it seems accounts that I hear of American's experiences in France include rude comments... not just negative facial expressions! Is this also a misconception?

desagree...

you talk about One woman, obviously dumb.
Im half french, lot of those advice are fine.
We dont smile if we dont want to. we dont do things we dont want to do. we say no when we are desagree. French arnt rude people, we are franc people. and sometimes a bit proud.
But if there is some rude comments, maybe, its because you ask for it.

not really well said indeed

I think that it is a person problem.
Sometimes, I think French people tend to globalize one experience to a whole people... But is that really a french flow?
The fact is that we kinda have those educational ways, and lots of people are uneasy with ohters not doing the same.
Honestly, I think we, french people, are not perfect, but, I wouldn't say it is really rudeness, but I'd rather think that as 'cultural clumsiness'...

http://www.rue89.com/2010/12/

http://www.rue89.com/2010/12/13/les-bonnes-manieres-francaises-selon-les-guides-de-tourisme-180187

<<<< You have been quoted by a french journal.

You said that French doesnt care about body odor, well ... I don't know in which part of France they told u that.

Ahaha

"Although most French

"Although most French children are taught English in school, it is only as a second language and should not be assumed. I would guess that 1 in 10 Parisians speak English "

FALSE. ALL french children learn English, starting at the age of 10 or 12 (some in elementary school, id at the age of 6-8). That doesn't mean they have the command of it, especially they have very bad accent (and feel ridiculous to try to have english or american accent, that's why they don't make any effort).

In Paris, I would say 7 out of 10 parisians would be able to contest you in basic english, even more in the 20-40 years old. (the elderly people don't speak Enghlish or have forgotten about it). Of course, if you want them to do so, you'll have to make the effort to speak a few words in French first. Typically: "Bonjour, excusez-moi...Do you speak English? I would like to know..." It is an implicit rule or an unsaid that Parisians will be "rude" to you if they consider you are yourself being rude to them, by assuming that the French should speak your language.

I am French. Nice article though. Just keep in mind we don't like to be considered as your servitors. YOU come to our country, so YOU should respect us, respect our language, and adapt. Imagine we come to the US and speak to you in French, complaining that you don't understand us? Ok we do that, but still... ;)

It is true to say that there

It is true to say that there are important cultural differences between the Americans and the French.

As a Frenchman, let me tell you about my perception on the subject, which is shared by many of my compatriots.

We tend to be positively surprised at first by how friendly Americans seem to be when we visit the US. Until we realize that this is just a way to be polite. We initially believe that we connected with a person, that we could possibly start a nice relationship, then we see that this person actually doesn't care about us. Typically, french people will say that Americans are "superficial".

In France, there are rude people and polite people. However, most of the time, people will genuinely display what they feel about you. If you are a stranger they know they will never see again, they will not act as if you were their best buddy. On the other hand, if a french person is very friendly with you, you can certainly assume this corresponds to a true feeling.

I lived several years in Montreal, where interactions in stores are very American-like. I never got used to sales persons asking me how my day was. I knew they did not care at all, so why asking, and why should I answer it?

Breaking the ice is certainly the ultimate challenge in France. Before it, French service standards are definitely below American ones. After it, the service may exceed your wildest dreams because as soon as it gets personal on a positive ground, many French people will break rules and forget about themselves to help you.

A last thing. Europeans in general and the French more especially, tend to be more critical than Americans and even cynical about many things, which can be perceived as offensive.

Nice article! You have

Nice article! You have cleared the myths about french people.Thanks for the french words you provided for beginners.

What a lot a rubbish.

The truth is that i am British and i've worked more than 30 years in France.
-French drivers are crazy.
-French people are rude and nasty.What do you expect when you have a president who call his own people "pauvre #@*" "racaille".....
-French men don't wash after they make love.
-French people (well the majority)are from the extreme right or from the FN,therefore they are racists.

Not a stereotype, I lived it firt hand

In the late 1990s I went on assignment to Nice, a very NICE place, along the French Riviera, for close to 3 months. I worked for a large Engineering firm, alongside some very sharp, and nice, people.

NOBODY showered for weeks! The stench was unbearable. I could see my coworkers waring the same cloths and the same disheveled hair for at least 2 weeks before I noticed a change of cloths; didn't matter whether they were boys or girls, though I did notice a couple of them gals, the exception, had perfume on.

Walking down a corridor and approaching a group of 3-4 people chatting idly outside someone's cube, I was hit with the collective reek as far as 10 feet away! Amazing - I kind of had to hold my breath while I walked right past them. :)

And this was not isolated, by any means. I spent half a week in Paris, where ALL the Parisians I came across were going by the same habit.

Quite frankly I was flabbergasted by this. But all and everyone I met they went about without a hint of apprehension. That's just the way it was. In fact I did notice early on during my visit some people were visibly taken aback by my showing up showered and wearing a change of cloths every day. Strange, really strange.

It's wrong

So JC, I'm french, and I take a shower EVERY day, a change my cloths every day too like all my friends and my family ! I never seen any people don't do that ! I don't know why you see such poeple... It's really really strange !

Sorry if my english is bad !!! (:

are you insane

I am French and I used to shower twice a day every day! In the morning to wake up and smell good at night to get rid of the outside dirt.
I had to slow it down to once a day here in Tehran where my skin is getting so dry bc of the water no matter how much I moisturize it...

And all my friends and family are like that in which no man's land did you live????

I love reading such comments

I love reading such comments because I can't wait to visit France and I'm sick of hearing all about the infamous French BO. It doesn't make any sense to me when people say the French don't shower.

Paris is Rude and Smelly. Loire Valley was Friendly and Clean

I know it's clearly "politically incorrect" to say, based on the other posts, but it's true. Paris is full of rude, smelly people. It's like New York City without the charm and warmth. I traveled with two other people, and we all thought the same thing. I know enough French to get by (but my accent is probably not good), and we were all very polite. So, it's not a case of getting back what we gave out. But everywhere you went, people were rude. The staff at the Louvre, the taxi drivers (the worst! but the taxi's were very clean), restaurants, even the owner at our hotel (but some of the hotel staff was great). One rude Frenchman actually raced up to my wife after she sat her purse down at a table in a cafe and was ready to sit down. This rude man sat down in the chair my wife intended to sit in, literally pushing her out of the way. Unbelievable! And the body odor was unbelievable. I'd say at least 40% of the people we encountered smelled. It was enough to make you want to vomit.

But, as others said, other areas of France are a different story. We encountered the nicest people in the Loire valley--hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers, museum workers. Everyone seemed to genuinely like people. Our hotel staff (and the owner) made us fell like family. And there was no body odor to be found--er--smelled anywhere.

I would return to the Loire Valley for my next vacation, if I could. I hope I never have to go to Paris again.

You, Jeff, have a kinda

You, Jeff, have a kinda problem with cleanness, maybe it's not only your fault, you are a victim of a not so old american culture.
which is a european culture-isn't it?, but american music is african and cleaness, maybe chinese? A victim, because I can smell that in the U.S.in the past, it was the smelting pot and now you have still that way to give lessons : how to clean yourself with enormous baths, no care if there is no water around your Las Vegas, for example. You see, in France and everywhere, what is the real nuisance for a nose, that's all these horrible chemical parfums.

Well I would like to

Well I would like to answer,
1-French are rude : Well, of course not all of them. But more often in Paris (and not only with tourists or foreigners) may be because Parisians are more likely to be stressed...
2-French have BO : depends of the moment of the day and if you stand in a crowded area...for my part I am often bothered with too heavy fragances.
3-All French People speak English : Unfortunately, they don't ! We are (the French people)working on it but still we remain one of the worst people for foreign langages !
I wrote a paper about the 10 mistakes you should avoid to have a nice stay in Paris :http://etvoila.info/10-mistakes-to-avoid-to-have-a-nice-stay-in-paris/. That might help you for a next trip.