10 Parisian Travel Tips to enjoy Paris

Lately, I’ve read a paper in a blog about cultural differences which made me think about writing these recommendations. The story was all about an English man and his wife visiting Paris for the first time. Here what he wrote : « After the first day I wanted to strangle Paris, after a week I wanted to kiss her and visit again. What a fantastic city, once you get used to it! Parisians do appear rude (particularly the waiters) but once you dig beneath the surface they are good people who get swept along by the pace of big city life. We have learned a lot from our visit and will be better prepared for our return”…

Well, I think this man is perfectly right and cultural differences are really hudge between foreign visitors and Parisians… I am not telling that tourists are all wrong and locals are always right. Parisians have a reputation for being impossibly rude, impatient and condescending towards anyone other than their own (even towards people coming from other French cities).

I just want to help you to have the nicest stay in the French capital.  Some of these advices might seem obvious for some of you. Well, I used to see a lot of foreign visitors in Paris doing wrong things, I prefer to say things as I think it has to be said. Like we say:  » if it goes without saying, then it will go even better if we say it » !

1/Always use these magic words : « Bonjour » (Hello), »S’il vous plaît » (Please),« Merci » (Thank you),« Pardon » (Sorry). French people are usually rather formal and polite. If you need to ask something, you’ll get a better answer if you always begin your question with a little « Bonjour ». Then add a « S’il vous plaît » in the sentence. At the end, if you’ve get what you wanted, never forget the « Merci » gratification. »Pardon » will be very useful each time you’ll bump into someone in the subway or anywhere else. That will mean that you’re not rude and you care about the people who live there.

2/ Don’t be upset or offended by the rudeness or the neglect of most café waiters or/and taxi drivers.

Unlike what I’ve just wrote about ordinary politeness in France, those two categories of people in Paris decided to act in a different way! It may reassure you that they are not rude just with foreigners! They have very poor reputation in the whole country and even French people who live in other cities are rather surprised when they visit Paris !

 

 

3/You don’t have to tip.

In Paris, and more generally in France, 15% for service is always added to the bill. You’ll leave a tip in very few occasions. Only if the service was exceptional or the waiter very nice but as I already mentioned it’s not so frequent!

 

4/Ask first if the person does speak English

French people doesn’t like that you may consider as an obvious fact that they do speak English.  In fact, a lot of people here doesn’t  or just very few words. Besides, they generally love their native language and are proud of their « cultural exception ». So, they really will appreciate, if you ask first.

 

5/Don’t be too noisy, don’t speak too loud in public spaces

Parisian are well known to be rather reserved or grouchy. They are not used to be very warm (even if they stay polite) or to be demonstrative in public. They never shout or express loudly their emotions in movie theater by instance. It’s also considered as a sign of good education : when you’re in public, you’re not supposed to be annoying for the others.

 

6/Don’t act as if you get lost in the Subway

Even if you are ! First, it would be better to prepare your trip with a map. It will avoid you to be noticed as « easy to robe tourists » by some evil minded people who hang over in the  subway… To get easily your way, you just have to remember the number of your line and the terminus station of it. It’s always the terminus that will be mentioned on the direction signs.

 

black7/Get dressed in an urban style

Even if you’re not part of the Fashion Week. Even, if walking with your old running shoes is much more comfortable than your pumps… you must never forget that you are in a Fashion Capital ! So, let your running shoes at home and take some nice ballerina pumps or a pair of loafers. Visiting a city might be tiring but it’s not a sport : you don’t need to get dressed with trainers, hoodies shorts, or sweat pants… No packing bags or sport bags neither ! Besides, you’ll certainly noticed that Parisian people take care of their appearances. They will have a much better appreciation of you, if you do the same !

 

8/Take advantage of your stay in Paris to discover new dishestips to visit Paris

Let surprise yourself with unusual meals ! No hamburgers, hot-dogs or pizzas for a while… They are so many French dishes to discover : why not trying a « boeuf bourguignon » or an « entrecote marchand de vin » (it’s beef in both cases)… Even if you want a simple meal, you can try a classic Paris-Beurre (sandwich with ham and butter), a Salade Nicoise (rice salad with eggs, olives, tomatoes and tuna) or a Croque-Monsieur (toast with ham and cheese ; with an egg on it, it becomes a « Croque-Madame »!).

 

 

9/If you need to go to the bathrooms

Well, it’s embarrassing sometimes to ask for and if you say where is « la salle de bains », which is the literal translation of bathrooms that will make peope laugh… Don’t ask me why instead you’ll have to ask for « les toilettes ». It’s the usual term, that’s all !

 

10/ Don’t try to see everything and don’t stand in line for Eiffel Tower tickets

Either sign up for a tour or buy your tickets online. That line will waste your time and your pleasure to be there. By the way, il you’re looking for a nice Paris sight, you should try the 56 th floor of the Montparnasse Tower. It’s less crowded and it really worth it ! (from there you will have a very nice view of the Eiffel Tower !).

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The list of must-sees in Paris is very long, and when you start to plan out each day you wonder how you’re even going to have the time to sleep! But, look – Paris will be still there when you’ll come back on day. It’s more important that you enjoy your experience. And half of the magic of Paris is just walking around, with no destination; if you’re constantly running from one site to another, you’re missing a significant part of the french living style. Also, you’re on vacation! Sleep in, have a long lunch, take it slow.

nouvelle couv

If you want to enjoy the best of Paris without a chance to get lost, have a look on « My Paris » the e-book Guide where I share my best strolls and addresses. I imagined 8 itineraries to experience Paris like a native and not missing local trendy shopping addresses – concept-stores, workshops and designer boutiques –  kept-secret museum, historic places, charming tearooms and cafés… many adresses that locals usually keep for themselves!

 

 

 

PS/Be aware of the clothing sizes

They are totally different to those you are used to :

Misses Dresses

USA

UK

France

2 (X-Small)

4

32

4 (X-Small/Small)

6

34

6 (Small)

8

36

8 (Medium)

10

38

10 (Medium)

12

40

12 (Large)

14

42

14 (Large-X-Large)

16

44

16 (X-Large/1X)

18

46

18 (1X/2X)

20

48/50

20 (2X)

22

50/52

22 (3X)

24

52/54

Shoes

USA

UK

France

5

35

6

36

7

37½

8

38½

9

40

10

42

12

44

Bras

USA

UK

France

Euro

32

32

90

70

34

34

90

75

36

36

95

80

38

38

100

85

40

40

105

90

42

42

110

95

 

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