I've delegated with myself on some of the issues that I've experienced around Lyon. I've already understood that customer service is something that will not be changed- unless prepackaged with MacDo or Starbucks (even then, no smile, no 'have a nice day').
I think it's best to say that a majority of people I see are bitter; with rightful reason. France has a long complicated history full of angry mobs and destructive behaviors to change things. Right now everyone wants change to happen, but they are afraid to do anything about it.
I can't go too deeply into the topic suffice to say a 10 minute walk alone as a girl showed me the disrespect for people, especially the French people, in France. This contempt has led to other attitude issues that I will brief on:
Old Man Seller in the Market
His leathery skin and set back eyes told me he was around 70 years of age. I could not imagine what events he had seen, but I could tell it was his family's wellbeing to be a produce farmer. He was used to haggling, bartering, people stealing, destruction. I am positive he had experienced the Algerian crisis in the late 50's, and then saw France drag into a new generation with Westernization and Capitalism. Tourists who snap pictures of his façade and his fruit cart, angry poor youth coming to harass and potentially steal what is the equivalent to his week's profit. Once a week at Place Carnot his family and himself pull out their pickings, set it out, sell it and hope people will continue to cruise the markets; despite the higher prices- he assured himself people would see the difference.
My own personal experience was one that was close to disaster. Via representation of Julia Child in the film Julie and Julia I smiled as I cruised the market. I walked with a slight bounce in my step, delirious with both heat and joy for the market. I glanced over the peaches, picked a ripe one and he swooped in with a plastic bag. I placed it in the bag and began gently touching other peaches to decide which I wanted- except I was stopped after I touched the next one.
'Faut pas touché, c'est pas une supermarché. Si tu la touche, tu l'achete.'
Don't touch because it's not a supermarket. Contempt. He obviously lost some business to super markets. If I touch it I buy it? It was strange for me after reading glorious reviews of French markets and the delights in bartering and shopping to hit this wall. It's not the old man's fault, you see, it's the fault of the past 40 years of changing France and the onslaught of consumerism and capitalism. He's just as bitter as I am that things aren't the way they were, because they were once that way.
As I continue on my journey through life in France, I realize much of the portraits and dreams painted by Francophiles and capitalistic travel books are false. It's as if France has been airbrushed and all the disgusting pieces are hidden behind the paint brush. My intent is to be as honest as possible as to show "current France", for I am not naïve, nor do I want to falsify and glorify.