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paris fashion sunglasses eiffel towerWhat exactly are “rude” countries and “rude” cities?

I’ll tell you what they are: Places that travel Web sites and publications routinely turn to in order to get people talking (and, uh, clearly it works).

A few weeks ago, Skyscanner — a Web site that compares rates on different airlines — announced that its users had deemed France the world’s rudest country, with Russia taking the second spot. (The United States was No. 6.) By default, that apparently makes Paris the world’s rudest city. And in January, Travel + Leisure magazine announced its readers’ picks for America’s rudest cities, with New York taking the top “prize.” Slots two through through five went to Miami, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Boston.

I’ve been to all of these cities, and I’ll be darned if I can tell which one is ruder than the other. I’ve seen heroic acts of kindness in the Big Apple, and while you can’t take the French out of the French, I’ve never felt particularly ill at ease while tromping near the Arc de Triomphe. Washington D.C.? Having lived there for nearly two decades, I always considered the place ridiculously pleasant.

Rudeness is most definitely in the eyes of the beholder, and no doubt travelers have a different take on things than those who live in these bastions of ill manners. I had a former boss who insisted that the only way to avoid rudeness in places like Paris, New York and London (Skyscanner deems the British the third-rudest nationality) was to blend in with the locals, and I always thought was a terrible idea. Why? Because the natives can sniff out posers immediately, and they’ll turn on you.

12 Ways to Feel at Home in a Foreign Place

Instead, I’ve found that being polite myself begets politeness in others. Dressing appropriately (sorry, no flip-flops in Notre Dame) and adhering to local customs goes a long way toward endearing you to the locals. Learning a bit of the native language puts others at ease and shows that you’re at least trying. And by all means, if you bumble into New York thinking that everyone is going to be rude to you … you’ll probably leave thinking they were.

— written by John Deiner

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32 Responses to “When Travelers Get a Rude Awakening”

  1. wftristan says:

    I think if you look for Rudeness you will find it – alternatively look for Politeness and you will find that too, its all a state of mind.


  2. Mary says:

    A smile goes a very long way anywhere you go!

    • Cami says:

      Actually, just a few weeks ago I had a woman in France tell me that Americans “with their smiling look like a pack of grinning hyenas. STOP smiling.” Maybe she just needed to add fiber to her diet?

  3. A.M. says:

    People are only as rude as the person they are speaking with. My experience in France (all over as well as Paris) is that the French are delightful. They are warm and welcoming. Of course, I wanted to learn about their country not insist on forcing my country on them. Why in the world do people travel if all they want is the way it is in America????

    • Thaddeus says:

      I have been many places and what always gets me is exactly what you said. Americans, compared to the majority of the world, are spoiled. They expect anywhere they go to be just like it is at home in the US. I wish they would truly remember where they are, realizing they are the stranger, the visitor, representing the good, kind, friendly people of the US, I DO! Being a native New Yorker (The Bronx), for me it makes for a satisfying travel experience, even within our own country. “This isn’t Kansas….Toto!”

  4. wbacoventry says:


  5. Sarah says:

    I have traveled around the world and have found most people are kind and generous.I have always thought if you are kind others will be back to you. I ran into an airline employee in Germany that shouldn’t have been working with the public-he didn’t seem to like any foreigners. In Miami I have found there just are NO nice people, the rudeness just is everywhere. You should always look at the overall experience in places and know there are always sad, rude people no matter where you roam-shrug them off with a smile and travel HAPPY!!!

  6. Jim says:

    I was sorry to see Chicago left off the list. They are, without a doubt, the rudest people in the world. Of course not all of them but a healthy majority, even within the tourist industry.

  7. Jane says:

    I have been to many parts of the world and have not found rudeness nor politeness to be national traits but rather traits of individual people regardless of nationality. One of the rudest examples of behavior I have witnessed was at JFK in NYC. An employee there (not sure if he was connected to the airline, the airport or TSA) was so rude to a young woman who had just come off a 10 hour flight with two small children that I wanted to slap him though I am not ordinarily a violent person. What a horrible welcome to our country! I don’t think he is characteristic of New Yorkers or Americans in general. I have found kindness and friendliness in every country I have visited. Those encounters far outweigh the rude incidents.

  8. Caroll Lothrop says:

    I just returned from my first of many future trips to Paris for pleasure. I cannot understand why people think Parisians are rude. Sure, there were people that squeezed into the space in front of me, making me pause to let them in, but isn’t that everywhere? I fell by stepping into a hole I didn’t see, and three Parisians rushed up to see if I needed any help. I pushed my mother around in a wheelchair and people helped us get on and off busses and trains, helped my mother walk into restaurants, gave up their seat for her, helped us buy our transportation passes,etc. My mother and I think Parisians are a warm and gracious people.

  9. Keith says:

    A City’s mentality should not be define it as rude.
    NYC has a huge attitude and I love it !
    Just because Paris has a different mentality with a pride only the French can reflect – Excusez-moi ! gives it a flare and an international beauty of its own and je l’adore !

  10. Donna says:

    Personally, I found Parisians very helpful on a recent visit! At one point I couldn’t locate the proper metro station, stopped a woman on the street and asked for directions. She not only gave them, but proceded to escort my sister and me to the proper platform! Another day we were at Sacre Coeur, and a young man came up to me, took my arm and guided me down that very long flight of stairs in front which had no handrails!

    Couldn’t have asked for more courteous, helpful people if I had tried. Long live the caring Parisian!

  11. Carmen says:

    I totally agree with you. I have also traveled around the world, and everyone has been so helpful and friendly, especially in Paris. On our last day in Paris at a restaurant that we frequented, the owner gave me chocolates and served us champagne.

  12. Susan says:

    My mother was the sweetest woman – ever. Mom had travelled the world (Taiwan, Germany, Canada, England, etc etc) and there was never a time when she didn’t make new friends wherever she went. She just had that kind of demeanor. She and my sister took a trip to Italy. (She was in her early 70s and my sister, her 40s.) Their flight was detoured because of a medical emergency and they had to land in Paris. It wasn’t scheduled and they had to change terminals to reach the new flight. There were no boards in the area where they entered the airport and NO ONE would help them….even the airline and airport staff in the terminal. They approached many people (staff, airline people and other travellers present) before they could get someone to help and basically it was because they cornered him. NO – they don’t speak French. They only speak English but they weren’t GOING to France. It was such a bad experience that they both said “If the airport is that bad, we never want to experience Paris.” Mom is gone but I’ve convinced my sister to give it another try. On that note, another time when we were returning from an amazing Italy trip when EVERYONE was wonderful to us, we had the occasion to observe the rudest customs agent at Newark airport. The gentleman just didn’t understand what was being said and the guy kept yelling at him (which helped so much.) We interceded and throw a smattering of Italian/English/hand gestures – he soon understood. I was embarassed that he was treaked that way. I guess people can be rude everywhere.

  13. Dalia says:

    I have encountered rudeness in other cities as well. But have to agree about NY and Paris. Saying “good morning” in NY was such a foreign concept! Every time I say it always get “the look” as if I’m speaking an unknown language. In Paris my problem was getting around and in restaurants when I don’t speak French. Being fluent in 3 languages (2 of them from next door neighbors) didn’t work at all.

  14. CJ Smith says:

    I’m a firm believer that what you put out is what you get back. If you are pleasant you will find pleasant. If you are rude you will find rude. Yes, there is always an exception, but I have found that to be rare.

  15. thomas says:



  16. Stephen Reynolds says:

    I have traveled to NYC more than a dozen times in the last 20 years and all was a delight. My wife and I traveled to London 2 years ago with a side trip to Paris on the TGV. Never had any issues and getting around was easy with the subway maps on our iPOD. The menu’s in Paris are in 3-5 languages including english. We will be taking our grandaughter to London and Paris in 3 years or so and expect to have a wonderful time again.

  17. Pam says:

    You can have a great attitude and be very happy and still encounter people who are uptight or stressed who decide you look like an easy target for them to dump on. As much as I love NYC, I occasionally encounter someone who lives up to the city’s rudeness rep…I do think there is an uptight element when you have that very high population density and a very fast paced, competitive environment that sometimes pushes folks over the edge. They probably think tourists are an easy target.

  18. dontpanik says:

    I haven’t been to any of the cities on the list save Miami (and DC when I was just a little kid). While I have no opinion on which city is the most rude, I will say that I have never met a native Floridian that was rude, most rude people in Miami tend to transplant to Miami from the northeast. Also, each city mentioned is a HUGE melting pot, boiling away every day with people NOT on vacation. I tend to think a lot of the times it isn’t rudeness, but cultural differences that stand in the way.

  19. fran says:

    xenophobe prejudices and absurd generalizations. There are rude and polite people eveywhere.

  20. Kathy says:

    These rude people of Paris/France must have all been on vacation the times we have been there. My experiences have been one of kindness and helpfulness. We have spent alot of time in Paris and surrounding areas, plus the south of France. In Paris we like to stay in the 7th district, I think the zip is 75007. I have traveled all over the world and have seldom found people that are rude to me. HOWEVER, the absolutely rudest place I have ever been to is Philadelphia. We could not wait to leave and go onto NYC and the people were wonderful. We always take time to help tourists in San Francisco and the Good Karma seems to come back to us when we travel. For those that said that getting around Paris was difficult, get a Metro Map–free. Most sights list the Metro stops and it is so easy. The first time you go, look also at the large map at the stations. We found Paris to be the easiest city to get around. Happy travels and practice GOOD Karma!

  21. Bushy Hartman says:

    It all depends on who you come in contact with. I have been to all those locations listed and met nice French people off the normal tourist area in a market, and met the most rude people in a store in Miami after I said good morning to them. I have visited NY numerous times and never met one rude person but a server in a cafe may of been accused of being rude because she had limited time and was direct and to the point. If you do just don’t let one person color you views on the whole city.

  22. Millelacsbabe says:

    In Paris the cab driver expressed his gratitude for what the Americans did for their county during WW2. He was a child during the war, I had not been born yet. At the ATM a young man immediately switched from French to English to helpfully advise me to get all the cash I would be needing because the machines were not being filled due to a strike. I did witness distinct differences in how I was treated versus my “ex friend” who announced everywhere that she was an American and only spoke English! One waiter told her she did not need extra butter and glanced at her in a way that made me smile – her behavior asked for it.

  23. cheryl says:

    Rudeness in NYC is grossly exaggerated: people (on the way to/from work)do get impatient with dawdlers – but will assist if you need help! BUT If you DRIVE in LA (maybe anywhere in Southern California) or the NY metro area, that’s where people may turn into monsters … As for Chicago- on a trip there people were nice as can be – MTA workers were so helpful, I wrote a note praising them. There are idiots everywhere- but- especially on my vacations- i try to ignore and avoid them. And – no Americans are not the ‘worst’ when away from home – almost any people who travel in packs can get insular, and closed to experiences. And the more of any nationality that is traveling, the more the loud, obnoxious ones are seen as symbols of the group.

  24. Jen B. says:

    I always find that when I am kind and pleasant with people (not demanding) they are pleasant back. I also think a lot of cultural misunderstandings get translated as rudeness. I have never had a bad experience in any of these cities.

  25. JL says:

    The rudest people I’ve ever encountered were in Toronto. Second worst was Minneapolis.

    I’m Canadian myself, but am from the far north (Northwest Territories). I just found people in Toronto to be very indifferent and callous, and this is after I’ve spent time in Detroit, Chicago, Phoenix, and Buffalo, NY. I think because you have to have so much money to live in Toronto there’s a certain arrogance or need to flash your money, but I wouldn’t go back again.

    • Lotus says:

      We recently put 6500 miles on our car in Canada Maritimes. Met the MOST friendly people you could find anywhere on earth. The people really made our trip wonderful. Several years ago we flew to Toronto to take the train to Vancouver and had a lovely time in Toronto for one day. Don’t remember any rudeness. I do think there is a difference between city people and people who live outside of cities. Hustling, bustling lifestyle that could be misconstrued as indifferent and callous.

  26. Lotus says:

    Have traveled all over the world and with few exceptions have found people to be people the world over. There are lovely people everywhere…. the majority AND there are rude people everywhere….few. China is probably the most rude but is slowly changing. As during the Olympics they had classes to teach the people to smile. The first time I was there the hotel accused me of stealing some wine glasses from a buffet. And I was looking at a piece of Jade?? (really glass) and the clerk pushed it off the counter and it broke. She said “You broke , you pay! and chased me down the street in Beijing.” Haven’t had those kinds of problems recently. They are not as friendly as people elsewhere. Last visit there was in 2011 and I still felt watched. Taiwan is a very friendly place. Before traveling it is good to learn a few words in the language and for God’s sake get some currency of the land you are visiting. And do your homework… read. I try to fit in being a TRAVELER not a tourist. You have more fun that way. A 75 year old American.

  27. Carol says:

    I agree that you get what you expect. I have heard my countrymen criticize where they are for being old, small or unlike what they had at home. Guess what? If you want things like at home, don’t travel.

  28. Vance Spurrier says:

    Visited a city outside of Prague once and first thought the people there were very rude. If I smiled and said hello I would get a look like “what the hell do you want from me?”.
    My friend there explained that this is normal and not to be taken as an insult. These people have been to hell and back throughout history. I later found after even slightly interacting with them they can be the nicest people on earth. I have found this to be true in many places since. I try to never judge people from first impressions anymore and have found my life has been enriched from this experience.

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