News flash. You know how everyone says the French are notorious snobs, and that they're insanely rude, especially to Americans? Well, from my (recent) experience, the reality would seem to be thus:
The French are actually VERY CONSIDERATE AND POLITE!!!
I think the problem is that it's the Americans who are rude. We don't mean to be. We're just used to being short with people in order to save time and get shit done, whereas the French are more about formal greetings/salutations before cutting to the chase.
For example, when an American enters a store, odds are the first words out of his/her mouth will be, "Do you have_____ ?"
However, a French person would first take a moment to say, "Hello madam, how are you today?" before going on about what he/she wants.
It's a subtle difference, but it's all about being courteous, and I'll be damned if I wasn't surprised to find that as long as you're polite to them, they're polite right back, which also helps if you don't know their language very well! Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but more often than not, that's all it takes.
It was fun listening to my girlfriend talk to the French with an almost stereotype twee French accent, full of cute little 's'il vous plait's and 'pardon's...and it worked! You just don't barge in on the French and start yammering on about what you need. Just take a little moment to say "howdy" first.
Man, I don't know what it is, but the Scots seem to have one heck of an inferiority complex! We were only there for three days, but whenever we conversed with the locals, it was always the same thing: They'd brag about the accomplishments of the Scottish, even if most of them occurred many centuries ago. I don't know how many times we were told that Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was born there, or that even though the toilet seat was invented by an American, "a Scot put the hole innit!".
Though I must admit, they DID come up with some amazing ways to kill people, as their many guided tours on the subject will attest.
"And here's the bar where the condemned would have a last drink before being hauled outside to have their innards removed by a pack of wild dogs, after which a group of randy teens would perform intercourse on every hole in their heads" etc. etc.
But I kid the Scots. They have a lovely country, and the haggis isn't all that bad, although my girly-friend insists it tastes like dog food.