Second: the blog-
A GUIDE TO BEING AS PARISIAN AS POSSIBLE
Let's face it, they (the Parisians) all know that you are not Parisian, (they have telepathy or something) but you don't want to stand out and you can still fool the other tourists and that is the plan. SO,
Step 1: THE METRO
- try and grab FRENCH magazines to read. All the Parisians read on the metro, so grab some free reads on the way in
- look into space on the metro and don't make eye contact, it's a big no no to stare at people (although you will get stared at)
- personal space is optional, it can get pretty squished in the metro, so buddy up to the person you're next to
- don't eat on the metro, that is not advisable and don't bring odorous foods either.
- say "Pardon" if you have bumped into someone, this is just for politeness
- don't speak on the metro, this will pinpoint you as an outsider, especially if you are speaking English.
- always keep your bag closed and close to your body, you don't want to invite pickpockets!
- when exiting, don't dawdle. Know your destination and move quickly.
- on escalators/moving sidewalks stand to the RIGHT if you are going to stand still, people like to try and squeeze by on the left so don't get in the way
- the metro closes at certain hours during the week and stays open later on the weekend, however they do not hit every stop, so plan accordingly
- the metro is not entirely safe late at night/ early in the morning, so try to stay by groups of people or even go the train car right behind the conductor
Step 2: THE STREET
- walk quickly and with a purpose, if you have to look at a map step to the side
- ok this one is hard and a definite judgment call, but in Paris there are many homeless, so if you are generous, give to those who you feel deserve
- street performers: you can listen to them for about 5 seconds if you don't want to give them money, however it is free entertainment and their livelihood so you are expected to throw them something
- if you smell urine...it probably is, so watch for puddles
- watch where you step because dog poop is sometimes just sitting around on the sidewalk, so watch it!
- It is not uncommon for people to sell fake souvenirs outside of attractions so be adamant and say no or just walk away, don't be forced into buying anything that you don't want!
Step 3: MEN
- this may come as a shock to you, as it did for me, but men are more forward here than in the USA.
- so, if they stare just ignore them and do your best to look away
- if anyone approaches you just say "Laissez-moi" which means leave me alone, and they should go away
- if you are still being annoyed or followed find an old woman, a police officer, or go into a restaurant/store and try and point the guy out to "shake" him up a bit
- don't attempt to go home early in the morning without coming across some trouble!
- take a taxi home if you ever feel in danger
- lastly, don't take the attention seriously, it happens to everyone! Just be aware of it and deal with it the best way you can!
Step 4: CLASSES
- classes here last 3 hours, with a break at the half way mark. Bring a snack or money because you will be hungry
- grading is harder here and the scale is different
- go to the bathroom before/after class and on break, it is not acceptable to leave in the middle of class and is very disruptive. Trust me, I have seen the "death" stare my professor gave one student
- ask your professors to explain words you don't understand, they will be more than happy to explain to you, and there is probably someone else who doesn't know the answer either
- always complete your assignments and hand them in on time (this also goes for the US too!)
Step 5: FOOD
- be polite when you order at a restaurant or cafe
- ask for a jug of water or you will get a bottle of water you will have to pay for
- keep both of your hands visible on the table (not in your lap)while you eat, this is just a cultural thing, so try your best!
- tip is included, so don't feel obliged to leave one unless the food was excellent or the service extraordinary
- if you don't know a lot of food vocabulary, it might be a good idea to bring a pocket size dictionary with you, although many places do put English subtitles
- if you are budgeted, don't try and find a cheap place to eat on a main street or right next to a tourist spot, try to go a little more inward away from the hubbub
- don't try and eat crepes or bread and cheese for every meal
- in the grocery store you may have to pay extra for bags so byob
- some markets have you weigh your own food and put printed labels, so look out
- don't expect the cashier to bag your food, do it yourself!
- at a boulangerie make your selection quickly and definitely buy something, it is VERY rude if you walk out without anything, so you could just make up something stupid and ask if they sell milk
These are just a few tips that I have been told and found out myself while living here in Paris. So keep these in mind and they can be helpful when going abroad anywhere. Just do a little research and buy a travel book!
*More tips to come*