French Tourism Board: "Sourire pour les porcs de touristes!"

Charles Bryant

Translation above - "Smile for the tourist swine!" Or, as babelfish says it, "To smile for the pigs of tourists!" I like that one better, actually.

What we're talking about here is a directive, or maybe that's too harsh. A plea rather, to French citizens to extend a more welcoming hand for the sake of the board of tourism. Seems that the economy, coupled with cries of "dirty Amereecan eelbilly" from beret-wearing Frenchmen, have led to a drop in tourism - to the tune of 17 percent so far this year.

Paris is the world's busiest city, but Parisians have a reputation as unfriendly hosts. The tourism board believes it's up to the fine citizens of Paris to step up and take one for the team by doing something that comes natural to us southern folks... smile. Aside from asking for smiles, patience and understanding when dealing with tourists, the tourism board has set up stands for their "smile ambassadors" to work their magie (French for magic). The smile stands will be strategically placed at Paris' hot tourist destinations.

I thought this whole business was pretty funny initially, but then something hit me. Tourists can very annoying, especially Americans. There's no doubt about it. I've been to countries and been horrified at the behavior of some of my Yankee cohorts. Canadians tourists routinely fly the Maple leaf on their backpacks so as not to be mistaken for Americans. Ouch.

While I do think it's fine for the Paris tourism board to ask for some love in light of a sinking economy, I think the tourist bears the initial burden by trying to fit in and be respectful. I visited Paris myself on my own little adventure many moons ago. I attempted to speak the language some, was at no point obnoxious and all in all put out a very gracious and friendly vibe. Perhaps people respond to that, because I was treated with smiles in return - without the tourism board stepping in to ask. Viva la France!

Let's hear some of your travel experiences, both good and bad!

Lu et vous serez futé comme moi: History of France Geography of Paris Is space tourism safe?