The three of us found this stereotype all too true in many of our dealings with Parisians. Of course the impression wasn't universal; other natives were friendly and pleasant. But we were surprised how often we were treated rudely and arrogantly.
The next stop in our travels was Edinburgh, then the Scottish Highlands. The contrast between the Parisians and the Scots was dramatic.
A Native Parisian Agrees
I had an interesting conversation about this topic with a native Parisian while I was enjoying a walking tour of the Marais neighborhood. The two of us happened to be sharing a bench in a delightful little park near the Picassso museum (due to reopen later this summer after renovations).
We had a terrific chat. He returned to Paris last year after spending five years in America working for a large media organization. I asked him what he thought about the rude/arrogant stereotype.
He said it's true . . . although Parisians say they're simply reserved around strangers, and that they're really warm and friendly once you get to know them. Not so, said my new Marais friend. He has found too many Parisians to be rude, arrogant and generally difficult. Americans are much more open and friendly, and easy to get to know.
And a Non-Native Resident Chimes In
I had another delightful talk with a young man who sat next to me on a bench in the Luxembourg Gardens. From South America, he's been studying and working in Paris for several years. He recently spent six months visiting his parents in the U.S, where his father has been working. This young man's comments on the rude/arrogant issue were nearly identical to those of the native Parisian.
My sample is small -- we three traveling Americans, a Parisian, and a non-native resident. I'd be interested to hear what others have to say.