Parisian taxi drivers have worked up a reputation for being the world’s most impolite. However, the CEO of a major Paris-based taxi company is offering hundreds of drivers free ‘politeness lessons’ in order to upturn this stereotype once and for all.
There are around 15,000 taxis roaming around Paris but sometimes, it can be very difficult to actually track one down – especially during rush hour or early in the morning. This is partly why Uber has become so popular in Paris – you’re guaranteed a ride. As you’ll soon learn, if you’re set on a traditional taxi rather than one delivered by an app, your best bet is to find a taxi rank, referred to as a station de taxis, marked with a blue sign.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
However, once you finally manage to flag one down, it’s not always the most relaxing experience. Parisian cabbies have long been associated with the stereotype of being unfriendly, especially if you don’t speak French. Some tourists say they play loud music so as not to converse, turn up with €10 already on the metre and get quite grumpy if you try to pay with a credit card instead of cash.
However, Nicolas Rousselet, the CEO of Paris’ biggest taxi company, G7, is now offering hundreds of drivers free ‘politeness lessons’ in a bid to change this bad reputation. He says that the success of Uber has forced them to improve their customer service inspiring a ‘cultural revolution’, with the goal of eventually reviving the traditional taxi industry currently being threatened by apps.
Drivers currently receive marks on smartphone applications that summarise their customer service performance. ‘We found that 800 out of 8,000 drivers in our Service Plus category had less than three stars on our application’, Nicolas Rousselet told The Telegraph. ‘We decided not to take them off the platform but to retrain them’.
The politeness lessons included everything from how to fulfil a service with a smile and improve basic communication skills, especially in English. It even touched on the importance of having things like an ironed shirt. Rousselet said the average mark on the application had rocketed to 4.6 stars out of five as a result of this initiative.
‘(Before minicabs), drivers treated customers as they saw fit. This unsatisfactory situation gave rise to competitors. If you don’t satisfy your customers, someone else will’, he said. As a result, the 80 drivers who failed to improve, were relegated to a lower taxi category.
Ultimately, this innovative move proves that the cold, snobby Parisian stereotype isn’t always true and that even when it is, people are consciously trying to change it in order to become more appealing to tourists. Why? Because the city is trying desperately to put itself back on the tourist map. That said, it seems like etiquette is a Parisian stereotype they’re keen to cling onto in order to make this possible.
There seems to be a wave of interest in improving customer service in Paris. For example, in the wake of comments made by French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who claimed that France was suffering from a ‘welcome deficit’, there are now measures to make waiters more friendly currently being implemented across Paris.
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 an 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.’
From encouraging more smiles to sliding in the odd joke and simply being more patient when tourists try but ultimately fail to converse in French, the changes to the restaurant industry have clearly inspired the taxi industry to take action – and who knows which sector might be next.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.