Do’s and Don’ts in Paris, France

    Do’s and Don’ts in Paris, France
    “Périgueux (Dordogne)” By Abxbay - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

    Paris, France

    Behavior

    • 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

    Exploring

    • 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!

    Tipping

    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
    • 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!)

     

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