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What the French think of American Tourists

by Oliver Smith / SLF

What the French really think of British, American and Chinese visitors

“Do you speak Tourist(e)”, a website and booklet devised by French tourism authorities, provides advice for the country’s hoteliers, guides and notoriously haughty waiters on dealing with overseas visitors.

The initiative, first unveiled in 2013, has been relaunched ahead of the Euro 2016 football tournament. Here are some of the choicest tips for handling various nationalities from Europe and beyond.

The culinary renaissance in Britain has clearly gone under the radar. The French are advised to “reassure them about how well cooked their meat is”.

When it comes to shopping, the British are “not too bothered” as they tend to “save their spending money for duty free”. Cheers!

Orderly queues? Mais bien sûr. They “expect organisation and like to receive information brochures”.

They love a deal, naturally. “(Unlike Americans), Britons are critical of the high prices in tourist areas, especially in restaurants,” says the website. “Families often have to make compromises to stay in budget.”

They also “like an educational aspect in their activities” and “like to leave opinions on review websites”.

US visitors are “very sensitive to the warmth of the welcome and smiles”, according to the website, “appreciate being welcomed in English”, and are “quick to address people on first name terms”. In one sample dialogue, a Parisian waiter is even advised to end conversations with: “Have a good day.” Yes, it’s a little hard to imagine.

When it comes to dining they are “sensitive to cigarette smoke from smoking areas”, “tend to have a high-quality meal in the evening”, but also “easily opt for food trucks and takeaways”. Free Wi-Fi is very important to Americans, as they are “active on social media” and “quick to share their travel experiences”.

Those stereotypes about efficiency quickly reveal themselves in the guide. Germans want “efficiency in staff and precise answers to questions”, “appreciate cleanliness”, “like to be reassured about timetables”, “are very attached to the reliability of written information” and “research their stay in advance”. The also find the Paris metro “hard to use”.

A bargain is also at the forefront of their minds. They “look for free Wi-Fi and low-cost tickets”.

Clearly the British aren’t the only ones with a reputation for drinking. The Chinese “particularly appreciate wine and alcohol,” according to the website.

And then it’s off to the boutiques. They “consider shopping a key part of a visit to Paris” and are “interested in brands and up-to-date/in-season gear”.

Expect a few selfies. They are “very active on social media, sharing experiences in real time”, while 86 per cent of Chinese visitors to Paris go to the Eiffel Tower.

They are also “very influenced by imagery, especially when booking”, “seek reassurance about questions of safety and security” and are, all-in-all, “high-end and demanding clients”.

Don’t spring any surprises. The Japanese “appreciate order and exactness – and hate the unexpected,” the guide states.

They also have “a strong need for reassurance in unfamiliar surroundings” and require staff to be “delicate and discreet”. “Low bows are a real marker of politeness”, it adds, and they “may not express clearly when they can’t understand”. Free Wi-Fi is also essential, as the Japanese “love to share their experiences on social media”.

Don’t keep them waiting. Indian visitors are “much less patient than other nationalities”, according to French tourism authorities.

They tend to “look for cuisine they are used to – vegetarian or even Indian” and “expect to be welcomed in English in taxis – and take the driver’s estimate very seriously.”

Zdravstvuy! They “don’t speak other languages well and appreciate a welcome in Russian,” the website says. They also “appreciate firm answers without hesitation” and apparently “show an attachment to conserving historical and cultural heritage”.

Wealthy Russians, meanwhile, are “particularly demanding in terms of service”.

“A welcome in their language is highly appreciated,” the guide states. They are “warm and spontaneous and quick to go for a handshake or talk in a familiar way”.

They are “connoisseurs of cultural destinations – it’s the main reason they come to Paris” but “their choice of destination is somewhat influenced by luxury and fashion”.

“They are enthusiastic” and “look for a generous and personal welcome.” They are also “used to different opening hours and take pride in their flexibility”.

“Do not go where the path leads, travel instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  @wbbrjp

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