We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

Which Paris hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Denver, CO
Level Contributor
310 posts
3 reviews
Save Topic
Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

It always seems like locals can pick an American from a crowd at 100 paces, without hearing a word said, and without the shorts, white tennis shoes and "I Luv Bush" buttons.

So I thought I would just check in to see what makes us Yanks so memorable! :) Is it the Ralph Lauren/khaki pants look for men, for example? At first I thought it was the Levis, but everyone seems to be wearing those now. I'm not referring to the "ugly American" caricature, or the drunken college kids, but us ordinary mature tourists trying our best to fit in.

Any comments appreciated!!

Sunnyvale...
Destination Expert
for San Jose
Level Contributor
5,989 posts
112 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

A not-so-famous reputation is that when a non-American has a hard time understanding English, many Americans resort to repeating what they just said LOUDER and with more irritation. very annoying. Sorry folks, this strategy does not work pleasantly.

On that note, Americans also have an unwelcome reputation for being loud and obnoxious. This will contrast and clash with the French mannerisms which may seem very formal and modest.

Finally and non-candidly...Americans tend to have really fat a**es. If you're not overweight or obese, they won't pick you out quite as easily. When you're overseas, do some people watching and it won't take long to see what I'm talking about

If Americans can drop these three tendancies, they'll be loved doubly world around, regardless of who's in the White House, so don't blame it on GW.

Dublin, Ireland.
4 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

I don't know...All I can offer is what a French friend of mine said. He voiced that he hated the way 'Americans think the rest of the world is a theme park for them'. 'One big Disneyland'. He felt that other tourists tend to come to another country with a genuine sense of cultural respect, his view was that Americans are there to be entertained.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
787 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

It is more behavioral, it is not only the clothes. I noticed first the behavior AFTER that I notice the clothes. A different sense of public and private space. The U.S. is a continent-country with a melting pot of cultures but one american basic culture contraly to Europe with very differents cultures in contact with each others but maintaining each their ones ways. But to put it in a nutshelve it would be their (general) lack of civilities.

Kensington, MD...
Level Contributor
2,657 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

Background: I'm American and also own a rental apartment in Paris, where I go as often as possible. The following are generalizations from my observations:

#1:

The first thing I notice when returning home is how much larger Americans really are. I'm not talking so much about people who are especially obese, but about the average Joe and Sally who are 20 pounds overweight. You just don't see that very much in Paris.

#2:

Americans tend to be gregarious by nature. It's a very endearing trait, but it can be really annoying in cultures where that's not the norm. This goes along with the loudness of Americans.

#3:

Related to #2, Americans tend to walk around making eye contact with everyone, smiling at everyone and talking with everyone. Parisians, generally, tend to be somewhat reserved in their interaction with strangers.

#4:

Americans equate money with social class. That is not so much the case in European countries where the concept of "upward social mobility" doesn't really exist to any great degree. In Paris, social class is much more apparent by one's behavior than the outward display of wealth. A family from a noble line may well have very little money, but will be absolutely overrun with politeness.

#5:

Related to #4, Americans tend to treat people who have achieved less than themselves like cr*p. You'll never see a Parisian being rude to a waiter, hairdresser, garbage man, sales clerk, etc. I am astonished at how I see such people being treated by customers in the U.S. Every profession is valued in Paris.

#6:

Americans don't dress very well. We are generally more interested in comfort than in appearance. No Parisian would ever go to the corner store without having on the right clothing, makeup, hair, etc. This may strike Americans as superficial, but Parisians very nearly see it as a duty to offer themselves in the most aesthetically pleasing way. Americans will squeeze themselves into the absolutely latest fashion whether the cut/color looks good on them or not--as long as the label is right. Parisians will buy clothes from no-name stores and consignment shops, but they will only buy the things that look good on their bodies.

the big blue marble
Level Contributor
15,725 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

Americans speak much more loudly than Europeans... you can usually hear them coming up the street and often know they are near before making visual contact.

Denver, CO
Level Contributor
310 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

Wow, these are some interesting insights. I think I got more than I bargained for...I was looking for some physical mannerisms or manifestation like clothing or walk or gestures. It appears that it is as much a philosophical attitude as well.

Other thoughts?

the big blue marble
Level Contributor
15,725 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

As for numbers 4 and 5 on your list, Truffaut, I have to strongly disagree... the rudest person I have ever met in their treatment of a waiter is a French aristocrat. And I live in an entire neighborhood of aristocratic snobs who have done NOTHING with their lives but be born into the right family, yet would just as soon choke as to look at you.

Conversely, some of the politest, kindest parents at my daughter's school include cafe owners, handymen and marchands.

Denver, CO
Level Contributor
310 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

Truffaut,

Thanks for your observations. I think that (as to #1) I agree that Americans physically have a taller (as well as wider) stature than most Southern Europeans, but isn't the height thing aslo true of the other Anglo countries like Canadians, Aussies, and even the English?

Steve

Kensington, MD...
Level Contributor
2,657 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

Maybe it's because I live in the Washington, DC area which has some of the most egomaniacal, rude people on the planet. I agree that there is a lot of snobbishness in Paris, but in my experience it usually seems to be tempered with at least of veneer of civility, while here everybody just lets it all hang out with full-bore 100% nastiness toward those whose jobs are perceived to be of lesser value.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
787 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Just curious. What is that screams "AN AMERICAN" to...

Truffaut , I think that your #4 is right on the nail. It took me nine months of knowing a French man before I discover that he was a count (what he was referring to as "la maison" was really a castle !) but only nine minutes to find out from an american acquaintance EXACTLY how much his annual revenue was and what he was driving and .... (of course this is one example and I should not generalize..)