I'm so glad I read the letter from another tourist who had a positive experience in France ("Bum Rap for Paris," Jan. 28). My husband and I had also heard of the horrible treatment Americans received abroad, so we took it upon ourselves to learn a few basic French words, including the phrase "Quel toupet!" which means "What nerve!" Fortunately, we never had to use it! The Parisians were very polite and, although most did not speak much English, understood our gestures enough to get us exactly what we wanted. In Granville, we asked two women walking down the street where a hotel was and one of the women got into the car and took us directly to the hotel. In addition, one man pulled off the road to give us directions, albeit in French, but the sentiment was there.
The Americans we encountered were rude. When the French did not understand visitors, the Americans just repeated themselves, only louder. "Quel toupet!"
Since that trip I've been studying French and will be scheduling a trip for later this year. I can't wait to return.