Day 270 (27 March 2011) – Misperceptions About the French

One of the common things Melinda and I find we are saying to each other is some variation of, “Wow, that person was so nice.” I don’t know who started the stereotype / gross generalization that the French are not friendly, but we’ve found the exact opposite to be profoundly true, so much so that we’ve started to think it’s a French government plot designed to keep unfriendly foreigners (i.e. the “ugly American”) away. As Washingtonians (and specifically Seattleites), we are familiar with the friendly conspiracy among residents to keep quiet about the incredible virtues of one’s place of residence for fear too many people will want to move there.

Case in point about friendliness, this Frenchman. He’s dressed as a city worker and was busily taking care of his job duties recently near the Château des ducs de Bretagne. Melinda and I were seated on a nearby bench and had just finished sharing a sandwich when he walked over. He saw that we were holding some trash and graciously offered to take it from us to throw away. This may sound small but it really was remarkable in its thoughtfulness. I could tell similar stories about workers in all kinds of stores, people on the street, neighbors, people to whom we’ve been introduced…

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