France tries to change its character:
France has long suffered from a reputation for extending a surly welcome to visitors, from haughty waiters in Paris cafés to frequent public service strikes. Just this month, the train network has been hit by a prolonged bout of industrial action.Well, they can be replaced...
There is even a recognised psychological disorder called “Paris syndrome” that afflicts some tourists, particularly Japanese shocked by the abrupt ways of their French hosts.
But the Socialist government, desperately seeking ways to inject new life into the stuttering economy, is rolling out a plan to transform the tourist industry – not least by addressing the delicate issue of treating holidaymakers with a little more grace.
“If there is one issue we have to deal with, it is to change the mentality of the French who see service as servitude. We are very bad at service in France,” declared Jean-François Rial, boss of Voyageurs du Monde, a specialist travel agency, at a conference held by the government last week to launch its new programme.