Fabius remarked that overseas visitors tend to perceive the country as unfriendly, with particular reference to Parisian waiters. ‘Even City Hall is telling us to be more smiley,’ Bernard Migneau, head waiter at Paris bistro Le Petit Machon told The Wall Street Journal in interview. ‘We are all experiencing real pressure from L’Office de Tourisme to be cheerier and chattier – more American. But it isn’t going to happen tomorrow.’
Whether it’s by encouraging more smiles, sliding in the odd joke, or simply being more patient when tourists try but ultimately fail to converse in French, there are measures to make waiters more friendly currently being implemented across Paris. French authorities hope that tourists will notice a difference from 2018.
There is, however, another side to the argument, with many locals speaking up against this unfair stereotype. Some say the image of surly waiters is a misconception, and no restaurant is the same as another. Others ask diners to remember that being a waiter in France is a profession considered worthy of great respect, and often takes years to master. It’s a talent that’s evident in the bow-ties and balancing skills, not simply in the smiles.