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book coverAlmost French

Book Review - Excerpt 2
Continued from page 2

Service in Parisian shops and restaurants

"Service in France comes in extremes: It's either brilliant or very bad. Some shopkeepers and staff are heroically helpful, as though their lives depended on finding the eyeglass frames that best suit your face or the Camembert that is perfectly ripe for your dinner party tonight. But often very little is accomplished unless you are willing and able to put up a fight.

"'...Il faut râler,' Frédéric tells me all the time, which basically means you've got to make a scene. 'If you're too nice no one will respect you.'

"This is a novel concept. Too nice. But he's right. The French are not impressed by anything as banal as niceness. Smile sweetly at a waiter as you site down and chances are you'll be treated with contempt. On the other hand, an air of assured superiority--preferably enhanced by a smart suit--will usually be rewarded with professional deference and prompt service."

Sarah Turnbull
Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris

Read Excerpt 3: A dog's life in Paris

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