Quote of the Day

At least part of the reason French waiters have such a bad reputation can be chalked up to cultural differences. The French garçon de café will not hesitate to correct your pronunciation, for instance, because he thinks you want to pronounce things correctly. He will not bring your check unless you ask him, because he considers it rude to intrude upon your party. He may speak to you with what—particularly to American ears—appears to be impenetrable coolness, because he is there to serve you, not to be your pal. Which is why, in mid-2013, the Paris tourism board launched its “Do You Speak Touriste?” education initiative to encourage cultural understanding and a kinder, gentler approach in the ranks of waiters and others who frequently deal with tourists. Asked whether the campaign has succeeded in making the city’s famously frosty waiters any warmer and fuzzier, tourism board spokeswoman Véronique Potelet replied diplomatically, “We know that work remains to be done, but the situation certainly is not catastrophic.”

Cristina Nehring.

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