I was just in Paris 2 weeks ago, and I have to say that your idea of the French is just not true, I speak no french at all, amy wife speaks about 10 words and we were always treated with respect, like others have already said always say Bonjour and ask politely if they speak any english. Oh and the food and wine there is great, just drinking a some wine that I brought back.
If you haven't bought one yet... Check out the Starbucks Barista Grinder, made in Switzerland, it's a $125.00 machine on sale now for $99 and through tomorrow (Sunday) everything at Starbucks is %20 off, so you get it for $80 plus they also throw in a free pound of coffee, which is worth at least $10, I just bought one ten minutes ago, I read some reviews over at coffeegeek, and it seems like a good machine at a good deal. You might have to check a few Starbucks (haha that shouldn't be a problem in NY) as not all stores have them, and they are not available on-line either.
Nice timing, as my grinder just broke and I have been doing lots of research trying to find a grinder in $100 range. Here is what I have found out so far, many people seem to think that the grinders in that price range are really good for drip and French press, but maybe not so good for espresso, I don't make espresso so that isn't a concern for me. Now having said that, if you are really set on that price point I have narrowed it down to 4 nice choices.