Those of us who live in America don't have to prefix our names with our marital status. That's what "Ms." is for. But women living in France don't enjoy the same liberté, as there are only two choices: Mademoiselle (for the unmarried) and Madame (for the married).
While it might be flattering when strangers address you as "Mademoiselle," since it implies they think you're young, don't get too excited. As one French woman explains in the Guardian, the Madames get all the respect in the workplace or with strangers. As for Mademoiselle, derived from the medieval sounding damsel, "There is definitely something belittling about the term, as it originally implied the woman was a virgin and not yet the symbolic property of her husband, as madame implies." So we either have to be damsels or property? As the French say: "pfff."
Source: Flickr User antjeveren