The French pride themselves on being considered Professional. This is far more important to them than smiling and behaving enthusiastically.
One of the worst insults you can give a French person is to call them “unprofessional”.
I do not think the majority of French Waiters are deliberately rude.
Ils sont les Professionals. They are just being Professionals.
To foreigners they may look sleek, snippy and frosty but remember, as I have previously said, (see Eating in France Do’s n Don’t’s) the French have different expectations from other nationalities when dining.
A waiter is there to serve you professionally and not to introduce himself as
French waiters are in the background. They are swift, efficient and they do not want to become your mate.
American staff get paid appallingly and so rely on the 20% tip to augment their salary. They fawn and intrude and smile voraciously. It’s very nice, warm and friendly.
But it isn’t really. They need that tip. The mentality is pay the tip or stay home.
In Australia, workplace laws require staff to be paid properly according to fixed awards. To make profits therefore, Australian restaurants need to flog wine by the barrel-load if they can. Staff are expected to fanatically refill people’s wine glasses in an effort to hoodwink the patrons into drinking far more wine at inflated cost.
This is equally intrusive and also vaguely exploitative and manipulative on the establishment’s part.
However, this practice does not happen very much at all in France.
The French love to eat out as part of their culture. They spend more per capita on dining than many many other countries.
French waiting staff are respected, paid appropriate wages and French diners expect the waiter to consider their privacy.
You will not get your glass miraculously refilled every 5 minutes, nor will the waiter bounce up mid-your-mouthful and demand to know “how is your meal?”
Most French waiters are far more subtle and professional than that. They have a long tradition to uphold.
Read this wonderful article here from the Wall Street Journal on French Waiters for more ideas and opinions.