A survey released last week reveals that French tourists are the most hated European travellers. Tourism workers from Niger, Lebanon and Paris itself tell us about their experiences with French tourists - tight with money, arrogant, unable to hold their drink and always on the lookout for girls. Read more...
The survey, taken out by TNS Infratest for travel website Expedia.fr, quizzed employees in 40,000 hotels in Europe and North America on the behaviour of 27 nationalities when on holiday. The French were only outdone by two countries in terms of overall disagreeability - the Chinese came top of the worst, closely followed by the Indians. The French were blamed for being tight with their wallets, impolite, and unwilling to speak other languages, although they did fare well in being quiet, well dressed and tidy.
The most welcome tourists were the Japanese, who came top for the third consecutive year. Runners up were Canadians, Germans and Brits - who were voted second for (surprisingly), quietness and dress-sense. The notoriously noisy Americans were indeed top of the loud pack, but they were praised for their willingness to try the local language and tip generously, coming 11th overall.
FRANCE: “He wanted his money back because there was no indoor swimming pool – in midsummer!”
Nicolas is a French tour guide from Paris who has also worked as a holiday rep abroad.
I've mainly worked with the average French tourist who's travelling on a low budget, so I don't want to generalise. It is true, however, that overall they're not the most agreeable people.
Many of them try to get their money back, sometimes in the most ridiculous ways. I remember one group in Tunisia. They'd spent a week in a four star hotel for only 1,500 francs [€230]. The hotel was by the sea and had a big outdoor pool. But at the end of the week, one of them asked for his money back because the indoor pool was closed. It was midsummer - what could he have wanted with an indoor pool?!
I've also noticed that the French have no qualms about making rude comments loudly. Once I had a group of both Indians and French people together. The French of course started making comments like ‘they're messy eaters,' and ‘they're good at popping them out aren't they' referring to the number of children the families had."
LEBANON: “They constantly correct your French when you’re giving a speech”
Rania Wahab is a consultant at a tourism agency in Lebanon. She gives historical tours.
French tourists believe they have a superior knowledge. Unlike Spanish people, the French always think they know better. Once I was giving a tour at the Baalbek Temple and a woman began insisting that my account of the historical ruins was wrong. She was convinced that what she'd read in a French book was the correct story and continued to argue with me until I refused to talk about it anymore.
They also constantly correct your French when you're giving a speech. English or American people never correct my English when I'm speaking, but French people interrupt you every two minutes to tell you you've made a grammatical mistake or used the wrong word. It really ruins your confidence. Despite all this, I have to say that I respect the French for taking a real interest in history. You can't say that about every nationality."
NIGER: French people spend a long time bartering, but they’re also the most interested in our lives”
Oumarou Ibrahim runs a shop selling handcrafted products in Niamey.
French people spend a long time trying to get the price down. Much more than any other nationality. We're used to it, because we don't put price tags on everything like they do in the West, but sometimes it's too much. I've even had French people trying to exchange their possessions for things. One of them offered his binoculars for various objects in the shop. What on earth would I want with a pair of binoculars? I don't even know how to use them!
That said, I do find the French the most interested people. I've been invited to France many times and also been offered help in commercialising my products there. Some of the French expats in Niamey come to the shop regularly when I get new products in. They even give me ideas for jewellery and new projects. The Germans might not barter, but neither do they take any interest in our lives."