Across Continents

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A very polite nation

The French are a remarkable polite nation. For example, exchanging pleasantries in supermarket queues isn’t viewed with quite the suspicion it often is in the UK. Indeed, here you simply wouldn’t conceive of not saying ’Bonjour’ or ’Au revoir’. Now, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is merely ’Have a nice day’ en Francais. But you’d be quite wrong.

It seems that all this politeness requires a good deal of effort to sustain it – everyday usage alone does not suffice. Indeed, at one campsite I couldn’t but overhear my neighbours practicing late into the night – quite loudly I thought – lots of ’Oui!’, ’Merci!’ and ’C’est magnifiique’. The enthusiasm of youth. I soon drifted off to sleep.

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