Paris Observation #2
I have no background in French beyond the words and phrases I've picked up by osmosis. Prior to the trip I took a look at Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours (not bad) and listened to a Pimsleur audio course (quite good). I worked on my accent, and learned some basics (pleasantries, ordering food, counting, telling time, and so on).
As a general travel precaution I tried not to look too much like a tourist, keeping such red flags as cameras, guidebooks, and maps tucked away in an attaché until they were needed, and not wearing jeans or sneakers.
When I walked into a store or restaurant I would greet the proprietor in French. I would use French exclusively until I ran out. To my chagrin and despite my attempts to adapt the Parisians frequently answered me in English.
How did they do it? Was it my accent? I know that my pronunciation is pretty poor when I deal with unfamiliar words, and I'm sure my grammar breaks down along with my confidence when I start to get beyond my depth, but I thought I at least had a nearly-native pronounciation of the basic greetings.
For that matter, how did they know I spoke English? Even if I bungled my "bonjour"s it feels unfair to me that so little could mark me as an English speaker in particular. Why not German? Italian? Spanish? We heard plenty of these languages in Paris. <sigh>