The Parisians have been very friendly and polite. In fact, on numerous occasions, they ask US for directions in French!! (Mom has counted 5 different occasions so far of random people speaking to her pointedly in French.) We always get a kick out of that!
Being polite and friendly is helpful...when you respectfully approach someone in their language they are pleased at the effort and are usually polite in return! We've observed many Americans who don't extend that courtesy.
I only know a few basic French phrases- "hello", "please", "do you speak English?", and most importantly, "merci!" are among my short list. Mara is much more fluent and it has been great to have her do some interpreting. You might be surprised to discover that many people here DON'T speak English. We've found this to be true in most all of the little bakery and pastry shops we've visited.
Our first full day in Paris, when we went to multiple museums and the Notre Dame, we kept seeing the same guy. First, Mara and I casually noticed him coming UP the down staircase at one place. Then, in another museum, he shyly and politely asked us how to get to a particular display. We laughed privately to ourselves at his apparent tendency to get lost. Before we left, he came up to me and said if I "wanted to make a new friend" I could contact him...and he handed me a slip of paper with his email address and said I could visit him in Brazil! We actually saw him a third time at yet another museum! In the huge city of Paris, what are the odds?
At one particular ticket booth, the lady behind the counter asked to see Mara's i.d. Then, strangely enough, she gave her the child's price! We can only assume that she misread her driver's license. Really- a child's price at age 27?? While I have to pay the adult fare at the old age of 28?!? What gives?!?
Once, upon exiting a metro station, I heard a young man calling, "Excuse me! Please! I love you! I want to kiss you!" Uh, no thank you. I think that was also code for, "Buy my water!" I didn't even glance his way but it was hard to keep a straight face with Mom & Mara sniggering behind me.
Mara and I are getting pretty good at guessing (before we hear them speak) who is French and who is British. There are some interesting comparisions!
We've wondered where all the handicapped people are...no signs, no lifts, nothing that caters to anyone in a wheelchair. Do they ship them off to some to some...island?