Monday, July 13, 2009

Rude, Crude and Unlovely

Stinky French.

Right or wrong, it's a stereotype some Americans come away with when traveling abroad. Francofiles may disagree, but many other global adventurers have commented on how France's native sons and daughters stink, both in odor and disposition.

I weathered my own unpleasant experience with a Frenchman, an unfortunate encounter that played out no less than half an hour after I made it out of Orly. I had just set out for a two week jaunt through Europe, and a jaded and dejected vagrant made an impression that changed my opinion of France forever.

I am hoping the future offers another opportunity for me to change that perspective on France.

As it turns out, the French are making their own impressions when traveling the globe.

A recent study asked 4,500 hotels around the world to rank international tourists based on their behavior.

The result? French tourists are considered the worst in the world, and thought of as penny-pinching, rude and terrible at foreign languages.

Confession: I was pretty delighted to read this nugget, especially considering much of the globe gives American travelers a hard time for the stereotype that we're ignorant, isolationist, rude and poorly mannered.

Over the past few years, I've had some interesting conversations with foreigners while traveling abroad. They mistakenly took me for a GWB supporter, "Surely you like the guy because he's your president, right? You MUST have voted for him, and must love his practices, right?"

I also heard criticism about how Americans fail to champion a global perspective because they fail to leave their own country and interact with people of other nationalities and beliefs.

Funny how that conversation transpired between a native Indian and myself while. I. was. traveling. London.

Americans get a little vindication in this study, sponsored by Expedia. Travelers from my corner of the world check in at No. 9 in the top ten list of the world's best tourists.

Travelers from the U.S. got high marks for generosity, as the biggest spenders and tippers in the world. My fellow American tourists fell short where tidiness was concerned, and we were also regarded as the loudest, the worst complainers and the worst dressed.

Since when is fashion a benchmark for good tourists?

I guess ever since Americans started wearing jeans, fanny packs and tennis shoes to Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey and The Vatican.

The title of Best Tourists goes to the Japanese. They're thought of as tidy, polite, quiet and uncomplaining. The Japanese have had a lock on the No. 1 spot for three years and counting.

The French excelled in areas of elegance, discretion and cleanliness, but were the least likely to try a new language. The study indicates American tourists were the most likely to tough it out and muddle through a foreign language while ordering their dinner.

Parlay voo Fronsay?, Indeed.

Mme. Hodge would be so proud of Katrine.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

1 comment:

John said...

quite enlightening. but after a few reads- it's an embarrassment to the bookshelf.

after being in euroland 4 about 2 yrs... and constantly getting crap about how we never leave the US> it's bc we don't have to. euros only leave their country for another... usually south. and. when asked if they've been to the us. they usually reply no.

strange how that works out - eh?