Given their nation’s long-reigning status as the world’s most visited country, you’d expect the French to know a thing or two about insufferable tourists. It turns out they do and are proving it to the rest of the world. In a poll carried out by online travel site Expedia and released Thursday, French tourists were viewed as the orneriest for the third year running.
Affirmation-starved France usually loves global titles of any kind . But Thursday’s
news that les français had kept their crown as the world’s most troublesome tourists provoked a collective Gallic shriek. “The French Are The Worst Tourists On Earth” blared the website for Libération above a story on this year’s survey. “Do French Tourists Abroad Do Their Country Honor” radio news station France Info asked as it invited listeners to debate the survey’s findings online.
So what specifically are French voyagers faulted for The Expedia poll says French travelers are the biggest skinflints, worst tippers and the least able or inclined to speak foreign languages. They also finished next-to-last in terms of their politeness and behavior.
Even where it did score well in the survey, Team France suffered stinging humiliation. Not only were the French denied the Best Dressed championship by the Italians, for example, but they lost second spot to the Brits whose fashion sense is usually likened to the poll’s slob champs,
the Yanks. France’s fourth-place finish for “Most Quiet” was tarnished by the Wagnerian-lunged Germans walking off with the bronze.
As the chagrined French reaction shows, the Expedia survey does get a lot of attention. This year’s best-ranked tourists the Japanese were followed by English, Canadian, German and Swiss travelers are likely to point proudly to the outcome as a paragon of scientific accuracy. But this third annual bruising of French pride should be taken with a pinch of salt. There are several aspects to the survey that make its methodology suspect and results significantly skewed. The poll ranks 27 national travelers over nine behavior categories. But it questioned just 4,500 respondents, all of whom work in hotels around the world. That probably cuts out people who meet less refined backpacking hostel denizens, campers, and legions of Winnebago warriors.
Meanwhile, because the lingua franca of international hotel staffs is English, notoriously mono-language Americans, Brits and Australians probably rank more highly than they should. The French readily volunteer that their own practice of foreign languages leaves much to be desired, but even the harshest Francophobes would be forced to mock the poll’s finding that the average Yank tourist is the better polyglot. At least that’s what French travelers might argue.
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