(by Young Reader from Vietnam and the US)
Ok, I guess it’s the season, so I’m treating you with new entries. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to post regularly (like I used to do), I’m still busy with other stuff and all, but let’s give it a shot.
Let’s start (again) with a very long e-mail from Young Reader, a Vietnamese girl that has been living in the US for a while. First of all, thanks for the e-mail, I won’t copy all of it here, just the parts that require an answer here.
First off, I want to let you know that I really like your blog and your down-to-earth sarcastic humor.
I’d like to go to France (…) If I do go, here are some of my concerns. First concern is language, should not be “un gros problème” as I speak some French.
However, I heard that in France, especially in Paris, French people are hostile to foreigners. So I want to confirm this with you, and maybe you can tell me what to expect, a general mistake that foreigners make, or maybe how to behave so not to appear ignorant?
So, first of all, no, French people do not hate foreigners and are not hostile to them for the simple fact that they’re foreigners. I don’t know where this belief comes from but I know it’s somewhat engrained in many countries to the extent that some people are concerned about it when they go to France. A shame.
However French people strongly believe that when in Rome…
So they will have little to no tolerance for tourists who behave as if they were at home or worse ,who confuse France with Disneyland.
It includes – but is not limited to:
- Americans that are loud in a store or in the subway.
- Americans that think money can buy everything and because they paid they have every right on Earth.
- Chinese people who think that Notre-Dame is an amusement park (yeah, American people: tired of having the reputation to be the worst tourists in France? Rejoice, the Chinese are coming!).
- English speakers that assume the whole world speaks English.
- Spanish speakers that will speak to you in Spanish and be confused/upset when you don’t help them because you didn’t understand a word they said (I can comprehend that English speakers mistakenly believe the whole world speaks English, but Spanish speakers? Really? I encountered the same behavior in the US at times… Spanish speakers thinking they don’t need to bother speaking the local language or the one everyone in the assembly understands, and not understanding what the problem was… Very odd… Not mentioning disrespectful)
- and so on…
- (all of those being things I witnessed first hand)
(yeah, I know, ironically, French tourists abroad are not always the best behaved either, but that’s another topic)
All in all, it’s ok to be ignorant about the rules of a country; to consider that you don’t need to learn those rules and that they don’t apply to you is what will create tensions with the locals.
In doubt: politely ask.
People will see that as a mark of respect and will be more than pleased to explain you the proper behavior to have in that particular situation.
Second, it’s about financing. As a college students I don’t have lots of money, but I aim to earn and save more with the goal of visiting France in mind but I do would like to know a general amount. Let’s say I will spend one month in France, pretty sure I don’t have to worry about where to stay, but I do want to bring back some souvenirs, not to mention transportation expenses, food, plane tickets etc. Would 2,000 USD a decent goal to aim? (You can even give me a rough idea of, say, how much you spent on your last visit to France for example)
Well, that’s a tough question to answer as it all depends on your lifestyle (whether you are a big shopper or not, if you plan to travel a lot or not) and those sorts of things.
Just keep in mind that Paris is much more expensive than the rest of France, that tourist areas are more expensive than places where the locals go (things in Paris and in touristy areas can cost as much as double compared to other places, so you can imagine in Parisian tourist areas).
Plane ticket prices can vary greatly according to many factors, etc, etc.
Sorry, I can’t really help you there (also I live in France, so my personal experience can’t help), but I advise you to definitely check those things ahead.
I’d say that $2,000 is more than enough to spend a month in France especially if you’re staying at somebody’s but then again, I always travel on a budget, I don’t really shop when I travel and I avoid luxury and touristy areas as much as I can.
In any case, enjoy your trip to France (although this answer is so late that you may have already came and went.