When I first told my parents that I was planning to make a trip to Paris, I got the distinct impression that my father was not happy with my decision. It seemed to me that he did not like the French. I think perhaps my father was of the impression that the French were rude. This is a common stereotype here in America.
I have to say that, based on my admitingly limited experience with the French, I can say that this is not true. I found them to be a very polite people. Were the overly friendly? No. Were they rude to me? No. Paris is a big city (population about 2.5 million). That's a lot of people running around going here and there. I rode the subway a lot while I was there. I rode it at least several times a day, including several times in evening rush hour. During rush hour, the subway gets very packed. It's literally wall to wall people, all crammed into a subway car together. However, despite this large mass of people, I never noticed any shoving, cussing, rude gestures or anything else like that. If anyone bumped someone else, there was a polite 'Pardon'. This was the same with me as it was with the native French. Now, these people largely kept to themselves on the subway. It was usually a very quiet ride with only a few people sitting there having a conversation in French. These were just average people going about their lives - riding to work, riding to dinner, riding to visit friends, whatever. Everyone moved around pretty fast in the streets and in the subway but I never really saw any overt rudeness. Even the bums were polite! All in all, I was quite impressed by this.