Absolutely excellent response, AOTB. I've been following this thread, and you really took the words outta my mouth. Yep, it's a shame we don't learn foreign languages as well as the Europeans, but most of our citizens rarely need to use another language, certainly not as frequently as the average European.
As to the French, I had no problem with them when I was there. I mean, I think you generally find the same breakdown of people in urban versus rural areas as you'd find in the US: you see more hospitality the further you get from the major cities. Even then, I met some really nice people in Paris, and my French is laughable. I can pronounce it well, but have no memory for vocabulary, so I used to get just a few words in before they just obligingly launched into English.
Oh, and sorry to swing slightly off-topic, but has anyone else noticed how many hostels and hotels in Europe are owned by Australians, and how clean and hospitable they are? Also notice how no one of any nationality can hate the Aussies: they're the life of the party no matter where you go!