Whenever conversation turns to the subject of hospitality in Paris - which is to say, very, very often - I try to remind myself and others that its general absence is something for which we ought to be thankful. It's what makes Paris, perversely, a land of opportunity: almost any business model presently existent in the city can be very simply improved, to the point of crushing all competition, by the addition of what the natives routinely neglect, namely smiles and goodwill. One doesn't even have to be good at something - one can just be nice.
Here any Paris business-owner will scoff, mentally shaking this writer by his lapels, crying, 'Don't you think we've tried?' It's more than one establishment can hope to achieve, to change an entire nation's outlook towards service.
Well, there's a trick. You just don't hire many French people.* 6ème arrondissement bistrot / expat hub Fish La Boissonerie sort of pioneered this strategy, and if, thirteen years on, the restaurant's cuisine and its wine list both show their age, great hospitality, thankfully, remains timeless.