The thousands of foreign tourists who visit the Pink City every day make an impression on guides, shopkeepers and craftsmen. But the new survey of local tourism and service workers has revealed which country’s visitors are the most courteous, generous and clean or grumpy, dirty and miserly.
One taxi driver quizzed pulled no punches: “The German tourists I carry are often discreet, and those who respect my car the most, unlike some Asians who tend to leave me their coffee cups. Some even leave their chewing gum on the floor. And this is not a generalisation but Mexicans have shown themselves to be the most joyful, and North Americans very demanding. The Saudis rarely smile, and the French are the kings of impatience,” he said.
His “supertourist” award would go to the Swedes for “their dignity and unconditional zenitude”, unlike the often impolite Russian client. For a waiter at Wilson Square, the Canadian tourist “is the ideal holidaymaker”.
At the Grand Opera House, Japanese tourists are considered to be the most demanding while the best tourists are Australians “for their kindness and exemplary calm.”
At Place du Capitole, Thibault, a taxi driver, along with a guide from the tourist office, and waiters at Café Albert and the Tenors brewery, are unanimous: British tourists are by far the friendliest. Sébastien Spinelli, the head of the Tenors brewery, says they are “the most courteous” and “those who strive most to speak French.”
The British even leave the biggest tips – between €10 and €20. Charly Bouchacourt, the assistant manager of Café Albert, observes that France’s British cousins are “the most smiling” and “those who respect the waiters the most” – an attitude that Charly says has not yet crossed the Pyrenees. “The Spaniards whistle at servers to get their attention,” he says. Another waiter, Sebastien, agrees: “They [the Spanish] frequently leave the table with chairs scattered, and napkins and cutlery on the ground.”
A guide from the tourist office adds that the Iberians often forget to say “thank you” while the British tourist stands out as his “best tourist.”
Meanwhile, the town’s tourist office has also revealed some of the more unusual questions posed by visitors to its helpdesk. “Where can I get a vegetarian cassoulet?” asked one, while another asked where the PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) football club shop was. “Where can I buy a postcard of the Eiffel Tower?” said another while “Where are the white sandy beaches?” was another question from a baffled member of the public.