PixieActually, France is the one country where I don't feel embarrassed at having such a limited grasp of other languages. Go to Germany or anywhere in Scandinavia and people are not only able to speak English but they absolutely relish having the opportunity to practice. Go to Spain or Italy and people may not be quite so fluent in English but they'll usually make an effort. Embarrassing? Absolutely!
British people do that too. It's incredibly embarrassing for those of us who do try to make an effort to see Brits swanning off to Spain and France, and just shouting louder at the French and Spanish people when they don't understand english right away. The worst bit is, most europeans can speak at least two languages, usually with fluent english as their second - but almost no Brits speak anything more than english and they won't when they go abroad, either. I'm just embarrassed for my entire country. :(
But not France … I've found that France is the one country where people are even more chauvinistic about their language than the English. Some will even take great delight in pretending they don't speak English when they do. I've even been in business meetings where, faced with a room full of representatives from many, many European countries, the French guys have refused to speak anything but French even though English was the only language the various delegates had in common. As a result, half the room had no idea what they were asking for (and so they didn't get it!)
So, yeah - I do usually feel embarrassed about the inability of Brits to speak foreign languages abroad. But not in France!