August 1

Anti-Americanism and the French

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Reading Jonathan Yardley’s review of “The Essence of Style” in the Washington Post made me recall a question I’ve been asked a bunch of times since we got back from France. Everyone wants to know how we were treated and if we experienced any anti-American sentiment.
During our entire stay in France we experienced nothing but politeness and kindness from the French people we met. Shopkeepers we met were friendly and helpful; people I ran into on the golf course were great; we received terrific service at restaurants and bars; and the innkeepers at all the places we stayed couldn’t have been more accommodating. There was no sign of the anti-Americanism that I was a little worried about and was, frankly, expecting given all the tales I had heard.
The only even remote problem we had was in the last few minutes of the very last day we were there when we encountered the only French people we found during the entire trip even a little off putting. They were the check-in and security people at Air France. I don’t know if these folks had an animus against us personally or against Americans in general or if their behavior was just a manifestation of that special brand of sullenness and insouciance that suffuses airline and security personnel everywhere, but they were definitely a tad surly.
So if you’ve been putting off a trip to France because you’re worried about the French, go for it. Just spend as little time at the airport as possible.


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