How to Be Nice to Tourists: A New Manual for Snooty Parisians

Do you speak Touriste?

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Updated June 24, 12:24 p.m. EST

Are the French finally feeling the pinch of their struggling economy and embracing the concept that “it pays to be nice”? Tourism offices in Paris–a city notorious for being unwelcoming to foreigners–are hoping to avoid losing visitors to friendlier destinations by distributing a handbook on being more courteous, reports Reuters

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Titled, “Do you speak Touriste?”, the small pamphlet provides specialized advice for retailers, hotels, restaurants, and taxi drivers on how to be more welcoming to Paris’ visitors–half of whom are coming from outside of France. Friendly responses to common scenarios are demonstrated in eight languages, including Spanish, Italian and Chinese.

The guide also offers suggestions to help locals better understand how visitors from various countries prefer to be addressed. “The British like to be called by their first names,” the guide explains, while Italians should be shaken by the hand, and Americans like to be reassured on prices. The Chinese are described as “fervent shoppers” and, apparently, undemanding customers, as “a simple smile and hello in their language will fully satisfy them,” Reuters excerpts.

Brazilians apparently pose a special challenge to a city known for exchanging greetings with barely-touching, double-cheek kisses. According to Reuters, the guide suggests offering to speak English to Brazilians — who are described as warm, “readily tactile” and keen on evening excursions — by telling them: “Nào falo Português mas posso informar Inglês.” (Rough translation: “I don’t speak Portuguese, but I can speak English.”)

According to the guide’s website, Americans and visitors from the Middle East and China–where English is a popular second language–had the highest increase in overnight stays in Paris.

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6 comments
camilosda
camilosda

The correct phrase in Portugues would be: "Não falo português mas posso informar *em* inglês."

malloriefranck
malloriefranck

I do agree with most of the comments. I am French, and because my university is close to Notre-Dame, I get asked around two times a week where is the metro, Notre-Dame, or if I knew a nice place to eat. If the tourist asking his/her road smiled and seemed warm to me -bonus point if he/she said Bonjour :) -, I always responded nicely too. I suppose France works on quiproquo. Once someone stumbled on me and started to say in a very rough and quick English that he needed to find rue Dante, without saying hello or anything. I answered that I had no time and went away.

AdrianSloan
AdrianSloan

This is sooo true, I went to Paris this past January and it was amazing, the locals were courteous beyond belief and so accommodating. The city is beautiful and the people so warm we thought all those horror stories about rude Frenchmen were overblown out of proportion. I would definitely recommend anyone to go and enjoy the City of Light, possibly the most beautiful city in the world.  

MarkBau
MarkBau

I love Paris and have found the locals friendly. All it takes is to learn a few simple greeting phrases. We are in their country, why should they speak to us if we can't be bothered to at least try to speak their language?

Kchi88
Kchi88

I've been to Paris many times and have even rented an apartment to live further out from tourist areas on occassion. I've found you get what you give. Study the culture where you are traveling to. The French appreciate a greeting in French and a warm smile. I have never not been treated as well as I am in the states, or better, when in Paris. I do see rude Americans, and other pushy demanding tourists from other countries there all the time. So while people finger point at the French I suggest looking in the mirror as well. I truly have worse experiences when staying in London.

danyruz
danyruz

I live in Paris, but I´m not French. I would say my main complain with service is in cafés. I just hate when they approach you and just stare at you meaning "what do you want?"...how about a menu or  a list of the things that you offer with their prices before I order something? How I´m suppose to guess what do you sell and how expensive is? I have received answers like "our menu is not updated" "we sell wine per glass but I don´t have a list". In a city where a simple cup of coffee can have a ridiculous high price  I think it should be mandatory to show prices before ordering, especially for tourists. It would be nice to know what to expect before receiving the check with a 5 euros tea or coffee in a just normal café.