Who says the French are rude?

By  Erin MacFarlane November 30, 2011

It’s a cultural stereotype as old as time: French people are cold, rude and snotty.

Everyone who has travelled to Paris seems to confirm this, so I always believed it to be true. My opinions of the French however, particularly, the Parisians, were forever changed after dining at a quirky fondue restaurant.

On a train to Barcelona, another traveller recommended eating at Refuge Des Fondues, a hole-in-the-wall in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris. After an exhausting day-trip to Versailles, we were in the mood for some warm comfort food and decided to check it out.

We had been warned to show up early or risk waiting in a long line. Fortunately, we beat the evening rush and were seated promptly at 7:30 p.m. We looked around at the interior of the restaurant – there was steam rising from pots placed at each table and the walls were covered with signatures and graffiti. Glancing at the nearest wall, I spotted a name from Muskoka, Ontario.

Moments after we settled in, a plate of appetizers was slammed down on our table with a brisk smile. We shrugged, wondering where the menus were, but dug in hungrily.

Between mouthfuls of olives a waiter arrived and asked if we wanted red or white wine. To our delight, our drinks were delivered in baby bottles – yes, plastic baby bottles – minutes later.

The tables around us began to fill quickly. Guests were escorted to their seats on the wooden benches by stepping over their own table. Those who spilled food or drink were applauded by the crowd. Local couples happily clinked baby bottles and socialized with the diners beside them. A group of four sat down beside us, and despite the language barrier (they barely spoke English and we struggled with French) we managed to share several laughs and enjoy each other’s company.

As we left the restaurant, the wait staff bid us farewell, the friendly owner dished out hugs and the woman who had been seated next to us took a picture to remember us by.

I guess you can’t believe every cultural stereotype you hear.

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