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Postcard from... Paris


Parisian waiters and waitresses are commonly held to be the rudest in the world. But what about the behaviour of their foreign customers?

My 20-year-old daughter, Clare, has spent part of the summer as a waitress in an Irish pub in Montmartre, close to the legendary nightclub the Moulin Rouge. Most evenings went well. One night did not.

A young Australian woman, who had visited other bars before she arrived, snatched a half-full bottle of wine from another table. She took a deep swig before the outraged French owners of the bottle could prevent her. When Clare was called to adjudicate, the young woman denied she had drunk from the bottle.

She agreed to have the bar’s security footage examined. She was clearly guilty as charged and was made to pay for another bottle and kicked out.

Later, an American family sat down at a pavement table and ordered burgers. A few seconds after Clare delivered the order, the man howled: “Waitress! This burger’s not cooked.” She pointed out that “medium rare” was standard in France and brought a new one, but then there was another indignant howl.

A homeless man had snatched half of the burger and was walking off eating it. The American got another new burger. Clare got no tip.