French waiters aren’t rude, they merely demand respect | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

July 3, 2015

France’s ‘welcome deficit’ may have more to do with British and American attitudes to service, than any perceived rudeness

How do you solve a problem like rude French waiters? The impolite maître d’s in French bistros – long held to be the scourge of visiting tourists – could now have a fight on their hands, as the government has intervened. According to Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, France is suffering from a “welcome deficit”, meaning that foreign visitors are 30% less satisfied with their stays in France than in other countries. The Times snippily added that turning France into a “polite and amiable nation” would be a “Herculean task”. To which I say: “Bof.”

While some of the proposals, such as giving train announcements in English occasionally, make complete sense, others, such as the shifting of the serving attitude to that of willing supplicant, would require a more profound shift in the national psyche. Furthermore, I tentatively suggest that the perceived rudeness of French waiters may have more to do with you than it does them.

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The English model of gaining attention seems mostly to be whispering: ‘Excuse me’ inaudibly as their waiter dashes past

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