It's quite unfortunate, but the French people have managed to gain an international reputation for being rude and snobby. It's true what they say - French people don't know how to smile. I'm pretty convinced of this because every smile I see in France either seems forced or the result of saying "fromage" one too many times. People never smile at you on the street and it must be forbidden on the subway. The other day, I gave up my seat for some poor pregnant woman and she didn't even acknowledge my act of kindness. No appreciative glance. No word of thanks. Not even a little twitch of the corners of her mouth. Normally I'd let it slide because being pregnant can't be any fun, and it must be the most horrible 9 months of anyone's life, but this time it bothered me. Probably because I ran into such nice people that day.
First, I didn't have a metro ticket, and as I was walking up to the window to buy one, a woman walking out of the subway turned to me and said "oh here, let me just slide my Navigo for you." My jaw dropped. I'm pretty sure that my mind completely blanked for a few minutes. I couldn't believe what was going on. I murmured a word of thanks as I replayed the scenario through my head. It's so shocking to receive such generosity from a people who don't believe it to be necessary to say sorry when they crush your toes with their stilettos on the subway. I considered myself immensely lucky.
Later on that day, I stopped at a patisserie near school for my daily dessert fix. I walked in and asked for a marvelous looking green tea mille-feuille and the woman working there decided to give me some complimentary green tea chocolate as well as a free hazelnut macaron! It was the most amazing gesture ever! Standard macarons cost 2 euros a piece here, and chocolate is no less pricey. And French people NEVER just give you things for free! I was pretty convinced that it was the best day ever. So I guess not being thanked by a pregnant woman isn't the end of the world afterall.