Walking through the Marais last week, I was about to enter a little boutique selling decorative bric-a-brac when I was stopped cold by the sign that the shopkeeper had taped to the glass door. A perfect example of un mauvais accueil — a bad reception and the opposite of un bon accueil, a warm welcome — I didn't know, as I stood there reading and re-reading it in English and in French, whether I should laugh out loud or shed a tear of frustration.
Paris is infamous for its mauvais acceuil, but never in my years of living in the city have I encountered such a flagrant lack of hospitality. Yet because the boutique was as morgue-like as it was the first time I had visited it, I decided that a healthy chortle was the most appropriate response.
The joke is on the boutique's proprietor, who wouldn't know a sales opportunity if it — well, if it walked through his door and asked for directions. I suppose that he is too busy rearranging his dusty knick-knacks to welcome lost visitors, sell them maps and invite them to look around his shop, and if that assumption is correct, I wonder why he doesn't relocate to a little village in nulle part (nowhere) where he would never again be bothered by pesky potential clients.