Now You Can Cop the Parisian Attitude!


What words just came to your mind?

Before you read further, take minute to let the various nouns and adjectives flow freely.


"The Shrug"

"The Shrug"

If you’re an American, there’s a good chance some of the negative words that just popped in and out of your mind were ones like arrogant, lazy, coward, dirty, anti-American, socialist (maybe even communist?), hairy and rude.

Now, I’m sure words like food, wine, fashion, Eiffel Tower, romance, cheese, art, tradition and maybe even fries came up as well.

But, for now we’re going to take a look at the role these negative descriptors play into France’s – specifically Paris’ – tourism industry.

Big surprise to me and maybe to you as well: Turns out, there are actually tourist manuals that help educate the Paris-hesitant traveler on how to “cop” the Parisian attitude.

Yes. It’s true…you too can now be as rude as some deem the French to be!

According to tourist agency,, “Parisians are well known for their rudeness to tourists and other foreigners. This has always been very frustrating, however, to the Regional Tourism Committee of Paris whose job it is to attract foreign visitors to the French capital. They’ve discovered over the years, however, that many tourists simply don’t want to go to Paris and be accosted by this legendary rudeness.”

So, several years ago, the Committee launched a “tongue and cheek advertising campaign [that] could best be described as an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach,” according to an article on The article’s author goes on to criticize the campaign saying, “Such an approach is so, well…French,” and asks, “When, exactly, did the lowest common denominator become ‘best practice?'”

The campaign is directed toward Brits who’ve turned to other tourist destinations where they can more pleasantly spend their spare pounds.

While offensive to some, some heavy-hitters in the tourism industry have welcomed the humorously helpful travel tips through the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach.

Fodor’s, for example, says, “The Web site, created as a marketing tool by a cheeky French tourist agency, is a clever attempt to make light of the quirks and tics that have come to characterize our friends across the Atlantic.”

Here are some examples of “Parisianisms” that can help you cope and blend in with the stereotypically rude culture:

1. The Pout: “Start by looking bored, then pucker your lips and shake your head slowly for impact.”

2. The Shrug: “Stick out your lower lips, and then reaise your eyebrows and shoulders simultaneously.” (See Image Above)

3. The indicator that someone should shut up (a.k.a. “tait-toi!”): “Hold your hand in the shape of an ‘L’; then bring your fingers and thumb together.”

Personally, I never felt the need to use any of these gestures, nor did I find it necessary to “cop” the Gallic, French attitude while visiting the City of Light.

However, for the nervous or hesitant tourist who is debating whether or not to visit Paris, humorous tips like these may help you make light of any rudeness you may encounter.

To take a peak into more aspects of French culture, please visit for an Englishwoman-now-living-in-Paris perspective.

It’s all in the family

It’s no surprise when the name Sarkozy makes the news in France, after all the French president and his son are known for their good looks and powerful connections, as well as their beautiful, rich wives. But as France 24 reported last week:

Jean Sarkozy

Jean Sarkozy

Pressure is piling up on embattled French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose 23-year-old undergraduate son looks set to head-up the main business district in Paris. Worryingly, not only have there been howls of disapproval at home, but the international community is now joining in as well.

Some critics are calling it nepotism. At issue: Whether Jean Sarkozy should head the agency in charge of the Paris business district La Defense. Almost two years ago, he was chosen as a councilor in the same rich suburb where his father’s career began. A few critics say Jean Sarkozy is getting the attention because of his looks and name and not for his abilities.

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has even suggested that the elder Sarkozy is trying to appoint an heir apparent. Read a LeMonde commentary on the situation.

Jean Sarkozy is said to be known for his blond good looks, and as the president’s son he should be used to the attention, right? Would it be unusual if his good looks failed to help propel his political career? Unlikely.

It seems that good looks worked in his father’s favor, too. The elder Sarkozy recently made the list of Hottest Heads of State.

But Nicolas Sarkozy is ranked at 28, well behind U.S. president Barack Obama at No. 15.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy

The list isn’t official and the public doesn’t get to vote, according to Time Magazine.

Is Jean Sarkozy getting too much media attention because of his powerful connections and good looks? Are good looks and political success linked more closely in French society than in American society?

“Le Fooding”: A New Emotion

So, what do you get when you combine the words food and feeling?

You may or may not have guessed it: Fooding.

Put a Le in front of it and you’ve got the name of a rebel culinary movement, birthed out of the neighborhoods of Paris, France.

Photo Courtesy of

The prestigious Academie Francaise – the official moderators of the French language – were sure to have squirmed in their seats with the emergence of this psuedo-French term.

Le Fooding, coined by Frenchman and cuisine connoisseur Alexandre Cammas in ’99, is a Paris-born “guerilla culinary movement that thumbs its nez at staid, starched-napkin cuisine, trumped by real food made with feeling,” according to a recent article on

Cammas believes all food that is cooked with passion, sincerity and taste is good cuisine – a thought most traditional French chefs would, in fact, thumb their nez at.

(For evidence of this – that even a young child could comprehend – please see the way in which the stereotypical French chef is portrayed in the animated film, Ratatouille.)

Perhaps traditional American chefs will do the same? Cammas thinks not.

This is one reason the Le Fooding made its premier appearance in New York City on September 26th and 27th.

Avante-garde, Long Island Museum P.S. 1 hosted Le Fooding d’Amour Paris-New York where innovative – and maybe even a bit “angsty” – American and French chefs showcased their “art” en plein air (outdoors) with deejays, visual artists and cocktails to provide the most flavorful side dishes.

Le Fooding also published what the New York Post calls a cheeky restaurant guidebook and a wildly popular Web site, again, bucking the traditinoal French culinary system.

“We have to cook in freedom because if we don’t, France will stay a museum of old gastronomy,” says Cammas.

Long live liberté, égalité and fraternité in the world of food.