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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Rude, arrogant, mean and moaning. Who? The French on holiday

Guess which nationality figures yet again amongst the most unwelcome when on holiday abroad - the French

For the third consecutive year they rate poorly in a survey of hoteliers carried out on behalf of the Internet travel agency

Overall they're second from bottom, and are generally seen as rude, mean, complaining and arrogant.

So no clichés there.

Time maybe for the French to take a lesson from the Japanese, British and Canadians, those nationalities that filled the top three slots.

Bastille day (July 14) might have been an excuse for the French to show off their military might with the traditional parade down the Champs Elysées; this year's guest of honour was India.

And there was blanket morning television coverage, exhorting the wonders of the French defence capability and generally revelling in national pride.

All of course in memory of the storming of the Bastille 220 years ago and part of the country's celebration of...well...being France.

But there's perhaps a characteristic the French would like not to dwell on which has nothing to do with fierce nationalism and everything to do with how they're apparently perceived when abroad.

French tourists are pretty much the worst in the world, according to a recent study conducted amongst 4,500 hoteliers by TNS Infratest on behalf of

They ranked 27th (out of 28 countries) well behind those that headed the list and the worst-placed Europeans.

Only one nationality ranked lower than the French - the Chinese.

The survey questioned hoteliers worldwide about how they found the behaviour of guests from different countries in a number of categories including , general attitude, politeness, discretion, tendency to complain and elegance.

The result doesn't make for pleasant reading as far as the French are concerned.

For a country which likes to think of itself as having a legendary "savoir-vivre" and gallantry, simple manners and good behaviour seem to be more myth than reality, if the survey is to be believed.

The French are the least generous - leaving smaller tips - top the class in complaining and are generally perceived as "impolite (read "rude").

A simple "hello, thank you and goodbye" would not go amiss from the French, and that of course in the local language, which is seen as part of the problem when they decide to venture abroad.

"On the whole we don't speak English or at the best very little," says Timothée de Roux, Expedia's marketing director, adding with remarkable perspicacity, "We speak French which not a great deal of the rest of the world does."

Evidently the French are not quite as willing (or able) to make the effort of the top-ranking Japanese.

Apart from that perennial language problem though, there's also the claim that the French are "mean". But de Roux says the "lack of generosity" might just be a cultural thing, especially when it comes to tipping, as it's simply not a tradition among the French.

In France, "service" is usually included in the bill, whereas in the United States it's common practice to leave (at least) 15 per cent.

"In comparison with other nationalities, the French tend not to travel abroad (90 per cent of them holiday in France) and when they do hoteliers find that they're not very generous and spend less," he said.

"And there's no longer a habit of leaving a tip in France."

One bright note perhaps as far as the French are concerned is that when it comes to "discretion" they rank fourth. Apparently they make less noise than their Italian and Spanish neighbours.

But on the whole they still have a long, long way to go to match the Japanese, and for the moment at least have yet again earned the tag of being among the world's worst tourists.


ArticlesADay said...


Very interesting post. I have met a few French travelers and they have never really been that bad.

The only thing I have noticed is that they can speak only French :(

Jake Dear said...

Hmmm. The gist of this report is consistent with what French friends who travel to Asia have told us about their own observations of their compatriots abroad. And it's also consistent with what hoteliers in France have told us -- both in Paris and in the countryside: They prefer Americans, or Brits, etc., over French customers. "Why?" we asked, surprised. "Because the French complain, and do not follow the rules; if we remind them that the room must be vacated at noon, they say 'yes, yes,' but don't abide."

(We won't mention what they've said of the Dutch and Germans.)

Still, looking at the bright side, as the study also shows, at least the French are discrete/ quiet, and that counts for something! We've frequently been embarrassed in France by loud fellow Americans who take over a restaurant room or metro car with booming and projecting voices. We've even mentioned that problem in our own web site's "12 restaurant tips" -- but based on our most recent trip to Paris, the problem persists (and no, the offenders are not invariably wearing backward baseball hats -- the phenomenon is much broader).

-- Jake

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Anonymous said...

Hi,i was in France last September, was invited to a dinner. All they speak about the whole night was in one word,critics.Of course all in French while they know i dont speak their language although i do understand. That was one of the worst night of my life. Now they are socialist country with all other races that they said took all their money and subsidies.The PM's girlfriend is somebody's wife. Speaking of responsibilities,honour,integrity from where do they get to feel better than anyone,leader represent the collective.Which reason to be so proud?I never want to go there ever again.

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