The whole world will agree that Paris is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s the art, music, food and everything else about Paris that charms the world. What a romantic thought is it to try and act like a Parisian when in Paris and feel the magic in every moment spent there – sitting in café’s all day listening to baritone voices singing love songs in the background, walking through streets and discovering the art, eating like the way they eat, try and look as fashionable as them, perhaps meet some interesting Parisians and become friends.
To act like a Parisian is tricky business, that stern look, spending hours over coffee & that twirl of the wine glass takes years of practice. As a traveller, you cannot attempt learning it all, but let’s learn something’s about them before getting to Paris.
Greeting in Paris
First things first, greeting in Paris the right way is really critical, the Parisian politeness is different from others, you can’t just go an say hello, get chatting, start taking & adding them on your Facebook. Start with a simple “Bonjour”, let them feel you are making an effort at French and go slow; anything else will be taken as impolite.
The Parisian cheek kiss or “bise” is the right way to greet, but don’t just try kissing the cheek of a stranger, there is a precise way of greeting. You start with the right cheek and then the left and all you do is go close and make a kissing sound! Simple. Pro tip: try with a few friends before trying this with Parisians and offending them.
Being Fashionable in Paris
Who doesn’t want to be fashionable in the fashion capital of the world? Only one advice here – don’t try too hard! Parisians have the knack of being effortlessly fashionable, they really are never ever “badly turned out”. It’s probably what they are taught since early years along with things like don’t talk to strangers and eat your greens. Their mantra on fashion is “less is more” to carry that minimalist elegant look. So when you are travelling to Paris, it’s about carrying those few muted essentials and mixing and matching it right.
No matter how much you love your bright, colourful, and patterned dresses, please leave them behind in your wardrobe – the only colourful thing you can indulge in is a nice scarf. About footwear – another thing to leave behind are your heels – Paris is a city of cobblestones and lots of walking, so if you want to experience the city properly without shoe bites, comfortable flats are what goes in, and it is absolutely fashionable to wear a black dress with elegant (non-shiny) flats there.
Eating in Paris
Parisians love their bread, and a baguette is like their mobile phone – the long loaf of bread always seen with every individual on the road– yes, its that hard bread you can barely break. You better learn how to enjoy it before getting there. The good news is that they equally like their amazing cheeses, delectable red wines and mouth-watering desserts, and they believe in an anytime wine and dessert policy so yes, you can start your day with a Crème brûlée & a glass of Champagne.
While there are lots of fancy eating places in Paris , typically you will find Parisians eating in one of the many neighborhood cafés, if the weather is nice the local thing to do is to pack a basket and have a picnic in one of the many parks in the city or sit by the river with some food and a bottle of wine – yes, its allowed to drink anywhere in Paris as long as you are not littering! So don’t be shy – just grab some wine and food, find a perfect spot and make it your lunch venue.
Talking in French in Paris
Yes, you may have studied French in your school for a few years, and yes, you could attempt to learn a few words before going there, but please be warned, what you have learnt is not French-French. You may learn the words, but learning the pronunciation of the land is like climbing Mount Everest. They don’t write what they say and they don’t say what they write.
For example Champs-Élysées is not said the way you think it will be – its pronounced something like “shon-zayly-ZAY” and I’m told even that is not right! Simple advice – please do not try speaking to people in French in Paris, stick to English and hopefully you will get a response from them. Please do not try speaking in bad French and the try and get away with “pardon my French”, it will definitely not be appreciated.