Visiting France? Planning to shop? Heard about how rude French people are? (They aren’t, really.) Here’s a tip to make your shopping experience enjoyable.
Say bonjour when you go into a store and say au revoir (or merci, au revoir) when you leave. It’s a French thing. French shopkeepers expect to greet you and expect that you will greet them in return. Even if they’re serving someone else when you arrive they’ll still look up and say bonjour.
It took me a while to figure it out. At first I was always surprised when I went into a store and someone said bonjour. I would look around to see who they were talking to, In Canada it often felt as if I was interrupting the store clerk by going in to buy something.
It’s actually really nice to have someone say hello when you go into a store. I miss it now that I’m back in Canada. I’ve noticed that it does happen sometimes in small stores.
I was in a fabric store in Carcassonne, chatting to the owner while she cut some fabric for me. A woman walked into the store, walked around for two or three minutes and then left, all without saying a word. The store owner looked at me, did that pffft thing that French people do, and said “ni bonjour, ni au revoir, ni merde”.
Obviously this doesn’t necessarily apply in large department stores and hyper-markets although sometimes in department stores a clerk will greet you in a department.
Learn how to say “I’m just looking thank you” and “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French”, remember to say bonjour and au revoir and you’ll enjoy shopping in France.