Bastille Day is next week. This is a special day for me, not because I passionately studied French History or married a Frog, in a previous life, or even because I count being at the Bi-Centennial Celebration in Paris in 1989 as a peak life moment, but because my eldest son was ironically born on July 14th, 1999. I have so much baggage and history with France and French Culture. The love/ hate relationship still teeters more towards love but I can’t deny I get a bit gleeful when there is bad press, the French are exposed as hypocritical or in some way there is de-mythologization of some aspect of the coveted culture. I get a lot of mileage out of my stories of living in France; much like the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnick, I always found humor in the little things. The hilarious scene at Disneyland Paris buffet where diners swarmed a waiter delivering a bowl of bread to the buffet before he could even reach it. The fact that my friend was served mussels and spicy merguez sausage as the first post-operative meal in the hospital or the fact that before my marriage I had to get a ‘Carte de Concubinage’; a card stating that I was his concubine… I could go on.  So today I open up to the Yahoo Page with the lead story: “French Tourists Seen as World’s Worst: Survey”. So apparently, according to this survey, done by Expedia, the French, despite their rumored savoir faire, were declared the most arrogant, cheap and worst at foreign languages of all global travelers. The last point is hard for me to fathom, as my experience is that stereotypically Germans seems the most offensive.  I will also never forget cringe worthy sightings of American tourists abroad. Whether it’s the unsightly bulges, unattractive outfits, or as I overheard one Texas tourist put it to his daughter who was concerned about not being understood on the Champs-Élysées when shopping:“Honey, the big Greenback talks”. Nevertheless, whether it’s a Freedom Fries moment or not, this survey declares that the French are ‘uncomfortable ‘ abroad. Apparently, only 10% of French tourists travel outside their country because there is so much to offer at home. Who can argue with that?  I’m not sure Americans, in general, travel more abroad; think George W. Bush. The survey interviewed 4,500 hotel owners all over the world.  The Japanese were voted the best and the British and Germans the best of the Europeans. The answer to being on top seems to be tipping well. So next time you are abroad remember you are representin’!

Filed Under Culture, England, Europe, Feature, Food, France, Overweight travelers, Paris, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Tips, shopping


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