Monday, June 23, 2014

French Etiquette Campaign

A group of volunteers called “Greeters” are out to prove the French are a friendly people who want to share all the delights their country has to offer.


France has a reputation for giving visitors a brusque and even sullen reception. But a group of volunteers called “Greeters” are out to prove the French are a friendly people who want to share all the delights their country has to offer.
Despite welcoming more tourists every year than any other country in the world, France has a reputation for sometimes giving visitors a brusque and less-than-friendly reception.
The French volunteers are part of the “Global Greeter Network” (GGN), a movement that began in New York in 1992 and spread to France by 2007.
Paris’s Greeters – who speak a variety of languages – meet visitors (in groups of one to six) after they have arranged to meet through the group’s website.
They show them what their own districts have to offer, from cafés and restaurants, to galleries, parks, local architecture and landmarks. 
They won’t ask for money, or arrange visits to paying locations where they take a commission. All financial support for the network comes through donations and from sponsorship from local government and businesses.

History of the Greeter Concept

Logo for the Parisian Global Network Greeters.   The volunteers changing France’s ‘moody’ image.
Founded in 1992 as the first "welcome visitor" program of its kind, Big Apple Greeter in New York City grew from friendly exchanges founder Lynn Brooks had with people she met. Lynn wanted the world to know New York City as she did: a great big small town with diverse neighborhoods, mom-and-pop stores, fun places to dine, and friendly residents who go out of their way to help an out-of-towner feel welcome.


The concept was a big success and has spread all over the world. As the number of programs grew, Global Greeter Network was formed as a voluntary association of independent welcoming programs. All the programs are free, offer greeter services as an individual or small group experience, and are characterized by enthusiastic, local residents who love their home city and volunteer to conduct these visits.


The GGN now counts 51 city destinations in 18 countries. Nearly half these destinations are in France, and Paris has more volunteer “Greeters” – 360 – than any city in the world.

Don't think it is simply the tourists who are annoyed by the selfish or snooty behavior of the French.  A "top 10" list of the "most annoying behaviors" of a study done by the RATP, had French commuters with "loud, mobile phone chatter" topping that list.  The study was done merely 2 years after foreigners visiting Paris had voted Parisians "the rudest people in Europe." Courtesy "Etiquette Facts" Blog

France begs its citizens to lighten up with tourists...

The world's most popular city, Paris, is wrestling with its reputation as the rudest place on earth for tourists. French authorities have rolled out yet another plea for locals to refrain from the Gallic snarl in encounters with foreign visitors.

Speaking at the launch of a new master-plan for tourism at a national conference, Commerce Minister Fleur Pellerin said France needed to “recover a sense of hospitality”, as “too often we mistake service for servility”.

Accompanying her was Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who said the government now aimed to attract 100 million tourists a year compared to 83 million in 2012.
Other researchers have reported that visitors thought it had the least friendly locals, the most unpleasant taxi drivers and the most aggressive waiters. From how to live in france.com


Fabius, however, warned that the famed French surliness was a pothole on the road to tourism victory: “The logic is simple. An unhappy tourist is a tourist who never comes back.”

No doubt there are many Parisians, in particular, who would not find that a matter for regret. Every summer they must endure an invasion of big bottoms in bad shorts, booming foreign voices and boors who fail to realise that under the French code of courtesy, any approach from a stranger should begin with a polite “Bonjour” – and be followed by at least a minimal effort to start the conversation in French.

But the fact remains that international surveys have repeatedly found that foreign visitors rate the French capital as one of the world’s most hostile places - although France is currently also the world’s most visited country.

The TripAdvisor website found foreigners voted it the rudest city in Europe, and other researchers have reported that visitors thought it had the least friendly locals, the most unpleasant taxi drivers and the most aggressive waiters.



Parisians also find Parisians rude?

A survey two years ago by Paris transport operator RATP found that 97% of Parisians believed their fellow citizens “were ill-mannered and lacked civility”

On the other hand, Parisians themselves reportedly do not enjoy Parisian manners either. A survey two years ago by Paris transport operator RATP found that 97 per cent of Parisians believed their fellow citizens “were ill-mannered and lacked civility” – statistics which do not bear too much looking into, as they suggest that those complaining must be rude themselves.

In desperation, last year the Paris Tourist Board issued service industry workers a “politeness manual”. Three years earlier, the city paid “smile ambassadors” to be friendly to tourists at the city’s big attractions. Pellerin told the conference that the situation was no joke: “Tourism is not an amusing or a secondary matter … the stakes are the same as exports.”

The issue has become more pressing as the French economy languishes with high unemployment. It is further highlighted by the fact that bitter rival London now claims it has unseated Paris as the world’s top destination for foreign tourists. While French authorities insist the City of Light still holds the crown, in 2012 London was closing in; there were 29 million visitors to central Paris, which does not include the palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau, and 27.6 million to Greater London, a much larger geographic area.

Fabius announced other measures to help boost Parisian appeal. The government aims to classify more areas as tourist zones, which would allow them to open on Sundays, particularly the area around the popular department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

The move is strongly opposed by shop assistants’ unions, which are striking this week over the issue. But Fabius says, “A tourist who finds the shop closed on Sundays will not wait until Thursday.”



Main Article texts by France 24's Tony Todd and Karen Kissane, and from the Global Greeter Network website

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia © Etiquette Encyclopedia