Talk to anyone in America and they will be quick to say that the French are rude. I have only been to France twice but my experience has been different.
I like to think that one visits a country they are guests and should conduct themselves as such and adopt their behavior to suit the host country. For example, even though I last took French when I was in high school, a long time ago and know just enough to get by the basics, I try as often to speak the little that I do know to fit in better. Once I do start speaking, the stranger always takes a pity on me and helps me out by speaking in English. We smile, I get what I need and move on.
I have found that almost everyone in France speaks English but if you start off the conversation in English then you will get the rudeness that most Americans talk about. It makes sense, even though English is the Lingua Franca, it definitely doesn't mean that we show up in a non native English speaking corner of the world and expect people to adopt to us.
That's just plain rude in my opinion and I second the French.
I have had some really positive interactions with the locals. I was lost, the map wasn't helping, so asked an elderly man for directions, who proceeded to give me a detailed list of turns all in French. It didn't help but I appreciated his efforts. I asked a waiter at a restaurant, who helpfully suggested that I take the Metro instead and gave me detailed directions on getting to it.
There have been other helpful French coming to aid such as when I was trying to figure out how to buy Metro tickets, getting directions, getting stuck in the Metro turnstile (it happens), help with food, translating the menu, etc.
I have to say the French aren't rude, speak a little French and its amazing how far you'll get.