Portofino, ItalyJust kidding!
Humor or funny fibs, seems to be a conversation starter often employed over here. It's in jest but opens up a lot of "would ifs" and "can you imagine" conversations. It's not said in a jester like fashion, in fact the opposite. Typically dry and slightly mischievous.
In the States, it seems that after basic introductions, the next question always is: "And what do you do?" It's our go-to conversation starter. Does it really start conversations? Sometimes, I guess. But I think it's mostly a habitual question.
In France, it's considered borderline rude to ask this question. The idea is that this question facilitates an instant "sizing someone up" based on their profession. Within seconds there is an assessing of their level of education, salary, esteem, worth, etc. Très gauche. I'd never really thought about this before, but ... it's rather true. It's not a conscious thing for most of us, but we're zeroing in on just one facet of a person as the basis to understand someone.
Certainly French people find out each other's professions ... but not necessarily the first time you meet someone. In a way, you earn access to the "inner layers" as time and conversation continue. Kind of refreshing, actually.