The French definitely have a different sense of personal space. Or maybe it's that they don't have one at all. This morning when I got to the gym, the locker room was completely empty. I picked a random locker, sat down on one of a dozen smallish benches and started changing, throwing stuff in my locker, and retrieving my water bottle, towel, and iPod which I placed on the bench beside me. Another woman walked in and made a beeline for the locker right next to mine, and started putting her own gear on the same bench. Well there wasn't much room (and remember there was no one else there and every other bench was available) she sniffed and said something to the effect that I needed to move over. I mustered the only response possible: I said "oui" and got the heck out of there.
Then there was the sunny morning in July when I was standing in a line outside a photography exhibit. Two older ladies queued up behind me and, within seconds, apparently decided that they would get in the fastest if they stood so close to me that they were literally breathing down my neck. Then came the best part. They started complaining to each other about how hot it was. Well, dang it, I wanted to say, of course you are hot. If you would just back off, you would discover that the ambient temperature is about 25 degrees cooler over there than when your front is touching my back. But of course, with all the burden of ugly Americans everywhere hanging over me, I just stood there and waited patiently. Like all good Parisians do.