- Don’t complain about the time it takes to get your order, that makes it quality food, and then savour your meal
- Say hello and goodbye when entering and leaving a cafe/restaurant
- These places are like homes to the locals, so treat them like it
- You can express your opinion, but don’t expect the “customer is always right” mentality
- People who worked in these places tend to work there for life with very little employee turnover, so they see these things differently
- Pack your items from the grocery store before paying
- Space costs a lot of money, there isn’t room for more than one customer’s items, and there are no packers to do so for you.
- On the Metro
- Give people space – make a cocoon and ignore everyone else
- Don’t crowd the doors, locals might do so, but tourists don’t get the same luxury
- Don’t give money to the beggars/musicians – their being there and your paying them is illegal
- Keep to the right on escalators (just like the English!) so people can go past you
- Keep your ticket until you exit the station or you might have to pay a fine to the security waiting at the exit
- Coffee is not what Americans are used to and everywhere is different
- Un café/un expresso = small, strong coffee
- Double expresso = medium strong coffee
- Grand café = little bigger double expresso
- Café allongé = expresso with extra hot water (usually delivered with a large cup and a pot of hot water so you can decide for yourself the perfect amount)
- Café gourmand = expresso with 2-4 bite-sized sweets
- Don’t expect American sizes! We have way bigger – rarely better – everything.
- Small talk is very common, though you should wait for the local to initiate it.
- Use sounds and gestures to “act French” and pretend like you know what they are saying (watch locals to see this)
- Stroll don’t speedwalk
- When at a standstill, read a book but not on your phone
- Don’t expect ice in your drinks
- Don’t shop or eat in the tourist traps
- Champs-Elysées St.
- Bohemian Left Bank on Boulevard St. (try Canal St. Martin)
- Other large “must-go” shopping squares/malls/streets
- Avoid the taxis, walk instead
- Traffic is terrible
- Taxis expensive and sparse
- Shop early in department stores to avoid afternoon rush
- Don’t spend too much time in the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay during high season, excruciating lines
- Consider skipping the trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower to avoid cramped conditions and long lines
- Or consider going very early in the morning (better lighting for pictures then too!)
- High-end restaurants can seriously set back your budget by $200+ in one night, careful!
Bag Assistance: Whether you’re at an airport, on trains, and on buses, think 1-2 Euros per bag they assist you with. The same goes for a valet bringing you your car, bellhops in a hotel, rental cars and shuttle buses.
Hotel: Bellhops 1-2 Euros per bag, 1-2 Euros for maid service, room service 1-3 Euros, 5-15 Euros for very involved requests of the front desk like sold-out shows or difficult reservations.
Taxis: Tip 10% most cases.
Restaurants: At casual places, the waiter should receive 1-3 Euros. At fancier places, 5% of the bill is standard. At high-end places, restroom and coat-room attendance should receive up to 1 Euro, and bartenders 1-4 Euros depending on the number of drinks ordered per round. (This just adds to the budget guzzling restaurant fees, so avoid unless you have a large budget.)
Tour Guides: These guys are incredibly underestimated and work very hard with very difficult people. Tipping should be about 10% of the tour price.
Dress Code (what everyone wants to know!)
- Dark and/or neutral colors
- Fits right
- One bold accessory (scarf, hat, jewelry, purse)
- Nice, practical shoe (flats, quality converse, small heel, etc)
- No bright lipstick (except red! Always wear red!)
- Strive for natural makeup
- Jewelry – less is more
- Skinny jeans are a staple
- Can never go wrong with a little black dress
- Scarves are a great detail
- Avoid white shoes and shorts – this is a dead give-away for American tourists (had no idea, but I’ve see it everywhere!)