My best advice for you is to go to Paris with an open mind. That’s advice for any country you go to as a matter of fact. My first time in Paris was definitely a culture shock. I never realized how different countries can be from each other. I guess I just assumed we were all the same. Now knowing that I was wrong, I will give you a quick crash course on how to approach Paris in a manner I wish I knew prior to arriving.
- Don’t smile too often: The French perceive smiling too much as a sign of being dumb
- Don’t be too loud: The French are quiet people. They present themselves as quiet people because they care how other people see and think of them in public.
- Don’t stare and smile at the same time: In the French culture, they take that ask a sign to approach you and engage in a flirtatious conversation.
- Don’t make faces/express how you feel: The French seem to be experts at hiding their emotions
- Don’t speak English: Although you may not know much their language, the French would rather have you try than just jump straight to speaking English.
- Don’t sign any papers from people that run up to you: They like to target tourists in particular so that they can pickpocket you so just be aware.
- Don’t order soda with your meals: (that’s an absolute NO with the French) It’s insulting to the French to order a soda with your drinks because they believe it kills your taste buds and takes away from the meal.
- Don’t be intimidated: (it’s a big and confusing city) Although every building may look the same, just have patience and you will eventually get the hang of it.
- Don’t wear bright colors: The French are not known for bright colors so bright colors indicate that you are not from the country and therefore make you a target for pickpocketing.
- Say “Bonjour”(which means Good morning/Hello): Everyone here acknowledges each other.
- Say “Pardon”(which means sorry/excuse me): You will use this phrase the most during your stay in Paris; especially in the metro so start practicing.
- Be aware of your surroundings: It’s always wise to be aware of who or what is around you in a different country or even in your home country.
- Take a lot of pictures: This city is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world so it’s a must to take tons of photos.
- Have cash on you at all times: It’s important if you want to purchase a lot of little or low cost items because Parisians don’t accept small transactions. You usually have to make a larger purchase so bring cash to compensate.
- Make sure to try the pastries: Paris is known for the best pastries. It’s half the trip to try the amazing pastries that they offer. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
- Say “Sil vous plait”(which means please): It will save you a lot of hassle. It’s obviously politeness but it will help you get on the Parisians’ good side.
- Always try: (with the language, finding a new place, and fitting in) I think this applies as a general rule because at a certain point in your trip, you’re going to want to stop trying to fit in as a Parisian. Just keep your head up and go with the flow.
- Blending in is your best bet: If you act like a Parisian it’s hard to point out in the crowd who is actually French or not. There are a variety of people in France and as long as you blend in, you are one of them for the time being. Have fun with it and create a new identity while you’re here. You don’t get to do much of that back home!
Overall, I would just advise you to have fun and explore the city as much as you can. There is so much to see and try. But I also advise you to be careful because like anything in life, there are the good and the bad things and you just have to be aware of your surroundings. So rehearse the do’s and don’ts and you should be set to be living life as a Parisian!