“Le Mot Just” – Just the Right Word – Eases French Travel

Battling in French with the hotel manger, I quickly glanced past his red face, through tall windows, to an inky blue sky, bright full moon and the shimmering, blinking Eiffel Tower. I had requested a yogurt for breakfast, and an extra pillow for nights. The manager brusquely informed me that these items were absolutely impossible to obtain.

Paris is, all at once, splendid and exasperating. Gold statues, 2000 years of history, and pastries almost too exquisite to eat are intimately interwoven with intense interpersonal rudeness. However, French attitudes can soften with a few choice words, carefully placed. Whether you are traveling with Elder Hostel or are on your own, whether you speak French or not, consider the following.

French cuisine includes meats and cheese at most meals. During our first elegant yet comfortable meal, a vegetarian declared she did not like the cheese, nor the vegetables served… and noisily left the table to dig up a day old, flattened cheese sandwich from her backpack. Beaming, she gobbled down this enormous sandwich in the glow of soft candlelight.


For more on travel etiquette, excellent language instruction, and a newsletter, call The French Class in San Francisco. In December, they will offer a special etiquette and culture class. (415) 362-3666