You are walking down the street in a big city. A stranger approaches you with a big smile.

Vous êtes dans une grande ville. Vous marchez dans la rue et une personne inconnue vous aborde avec un grand sourire.

I say hello and listen to what he has to say (but am ready to run away if things go wrong).

I smile back (most likely).

I smile back because that's what we do in Oregon!

I smile back.

I smile briefly, looking confused, and wait for them to speak with me.

I would feel disturbed although it depends on the stranger. This happens a lot in NYC.

I would keep walking, since he probably mistook me for someone else.

I would smile back and keep walking.

I would smile back, perhaps say hello. If he stops to talk, I might talk a little and move on.

I would smile back.

I would smile back.

I would think this was strange and probably avoid them

It would depend on how the stranger carries themselves. Usually if they have a kept and tidy appearance, I would be willing to help them out. However, if they look sleazy or sketchy, talking to them would make me uncomfortable and I would keep walking, ignoring any expressions or dialogue.

Keep walking. Don't make eye contact. He sounds creepy.

Sadly, it depends on the stranger. I know that we're not supposed to judge people by their appearance, but if the person seemed sketchy or scary, I would probably do my best to avoid him. If he seemed lost or confused, I'd try to help without getting too close. Of course, if this happened at night, I probably wouldn't stop for any reason.

Smile back and instantly be in a better mood because someone else is having a good day.

smile back as long as they don't look suspicious and the are not trying to sell anything

Verify that I do not know the person, then turn and walk away very fast.

j'écoute ce qu'elle veut me dire

j'écoute ce qu'il a à me dire

Je lui demande si l'on se connaît.

Je lui demanderais si on se connait

Je lui dis bonjour, et je lui renvoie un sourire

Je lui fais également un sourire et je cherche à communiquer avec cette personne

je lui fais un grand sourire et je commence a parler avec elle

je lui réponds gentiment pour savoir ce qu'elle souhaite.

je lui rends son sourire et lui réponds poliment.

Je lui souris aussi

je lui souris aussi, et si il m'aborde on discutera

je lui souris à mon tour et je continue mon chemin.

je lui souris également et entame la discussion

Je lui souris, je reste méfiant, puis je lui accorde quelques secondes

je m'arrête pour l'écouter

je me demande ce qu'elle veut, tout en l'ignorant.

je me méfie, c'est quand même louche

je reste lui parler afin de savoir pourquoi il me souriait et s'il me connait.

je souris aussi et j'attend de voir ce qu'elle veut! cela fait tellement plaisir de sourire

Je souris tout en étant gênée.

je vais courir

Suivant mon humeur, je peux lui sourire ou alors je ne fais pas attention.


It seems that the French are more willing to talk to someone who smiles at them on the street, if they know the person or think that the person has something to say.  On the other hand, we Americans seem less willing to let someone into our "personal bubble."  We don't initially assume that the person is good, as it seems the French do.  Is there a reason for this?  Could it be maybe that there's less crime in France?

I try to be cautious when walking down the street, especially if I'm in a city, but I am also the kind of person who smiles if I catch your eye, so I don't think it is unusual to smile back. However, I am not likely to stop to chat with a stranger. It seems like the French are more comfortable with interacting with strangers. Is this true? 

I'm originally from the West Coast where it is not unusual to smile or even randomly start converstations with strangers. I was very surprised when I came to the East Coast because most people do not look at each other as they pass by. One wouldn't dream of saying hello to a person unless they already knew them. In France is there a regional difference when encoutnering strangers in casual circumstances such as walking down the street? For instance, would someone be more likely to talk to a stranger in a smaller town that in a large city?

I have heard that walking down busy streets of a city like Paris, people will not pay any attention to you and will not smile back.  Here in Boston A lot of people don't seem to even acknowledge you.   Are you guys not worried when talking to strangers? I know as americans we are told since we can remember, to never talk to strangers (although mainy for little kids). Do you guys go by the same manners?

There are definitely strong regional differences in this, as Kasey pointed out.  I moved to MIT from the midwest and I am still getting over how different the people are in general.  In general, on the surface people seem much colder and standoffish, but it's just that you have to get to know them.

In the midwest actually it is the opposite, but I think this is mostly because of the "small-town" mentality and the fact that it is much safer than downtown Boston or Paris.  If someone approaches you with a big smile, you smile back and say "Good morning!", etc.  It is not at all uncommon for perfect strangers to strike up conversation.

Are there more rural parts of France that are a lot different from Paris?  Would people treat strangers differently in these places?  Also, can you tell where people are from by their accent?

I was initially surprised by the results of this situation. I am from a very small town 'out in the sticks' as one might say and so I am used to smiling at strangers or nodding at someone if they smile at me. I was surprised to find that in cities, or even larger towns, this is generally not the case. In Boston I think it would be considered quite out of the ordinary to smile at a stranger. In contrast, as others have said above, the French seem more comfortable interacting with strangers, be it through the simple action of smiling and striking up a conversation. This also surprised me because I had an image of the French as more reserved and less likely to indulge in small talk. Is there any truth to this stereotype? Judging from the results it appears unfounded but is this perhaps a regional characteristic, as others have suggested?

Je pense que les français attachent une assez grande importance à la posture, la tenue vestimentaire de la personne que l'on aura en face de nous. Notre attitude va donc dépendre en partie de son "look". A contrario, le melting pot américain peut rendre cette prise de contact plus facile.

Dans les grandes villes en effet, les gens vont être, généralement, indifférent les uns aux autres. Dans les plus petite ville, le contact peut soit être facile du fait du non empressement ambiant, soit au contraire plus difficile du fait d'une crainte plus grande de l'étranger.

Au niveau des disparités locales, dans le Sud de la France, les contacts vont être, de manière générale, plus faciles, les gens plus chaleureux. A l'inverse, dans le Nord, les contacts vont être plus difficiles au départ mais pas moins conviviaux par la suite.

Cependant, nous avons les mêmes recommandations parentales que vous, c'est-à-dire : se méfier des inconnus qui nous abordent, même s'ils semblent sympatiques.

Bonjour, en France, les gens ont un peu tendance à se méfier des inconnus , car il y pas mal d'histoires de rapts, d'agressions, et on apprend très tôt aux enfants à ne pas suivre un inconnu, à ne rien accepter d'un inconnu. C'est sans doute dommage, mais on vit dans un monde  difficile où les relations entre les gens ne sont pas toujours saines.

Est-ce la même chose chez vous?