It has been 10 years since I took French with Monsieur Wrenn, yet I feel like I can communicate semi bien in France. Here are some useful tips I learned from him, not only as his student, but as an excited traveler...
1. Formality is key...saying bonjour monsieur, bonjour Madame as you enter and leave go a long way in any boulangerie, patisserie, or restaurant.
2. S'il vous plait and merci with a smile will get you a return smile 90% of the time (not as effective as the 94% bend and snap return smile, but close)
3. Pardonez moi, excusez moi are useful phrases when passing anyone in a busy subway, street, or marketplace. People will usually respond well to this.
4. It is acceptable to ignore men or gypsies in the street, because if you greet them with eye contact or a smile, it is invitation for them to invade your personal space. But if you are into either one or both, I support you.
5. Apparently is against the law to walk in the streets of the Riviera with your bare torso exposed.
6. Apparently it is also frowned upon to walk into a restaurant wearing hootchie shorts and a camp appropriate one piece in a restaurant (personal experience).
7. When an elderly woman screams behind you, she may startle you to the point where you pee a little, but she could very easily be communicating with her dog who ran around the corner to get in some good snide at the local garbage can. (personal experience)
happy and safe traveling,