How to NOT Look Like a Tourist in Paris – The Do’s and Don’ts
Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world, full of chic locals living their best lives. While France is one of the most-visited countries in Europe, this doesn't mean you want to stick out like a sore (foreign) thumb! Here are a few ways not to look like a tourist in Paris.
What to wear in Paris
It's no secret that Parisiens are stylish, and the city is a hub for fashion and creatives alike. Before you go out and buy a whole new wardrobe fit for Paris Fashion Week, take stock of your closet. You probably already have attire that would blend in on the streets of Paris.
Do: Bring plain t-shirts, well-tailored pants, and a nice pair of shoes
Don't: Bring your baseball caps, Hawaiian shirts, and sports jerseys
No one likes a loud talker, especially in Paris. French people tend to be even quieter than the rest of the Europeans. Anglophone voices have a habit of carrying and standing out, so use your inside voice (even outside).
Take some time on the plane to brush up on some basic French. Learning some basic French phrases goes a long way and is a sign of respect. Speaking of respect, say "bonjour" when you enter a store, "au revoir" when you leave, and "non merci" if someone is offering you something that you don't want.
Do: Speak softly, and make an effort to communicate in French
Don't: Shout into your cell phone or expect everyone to speak to you in English.
From Michelin-starred restaurants to cozy neighborhood cafes, it's hard to beat the dining scene in Paris. For the French, dining is an experience and not rushed. As a tourist in Paris, don't gulp your meal, and certainly don't expect the fast food and service you may experience in North America. Expect your meal to take some time, and enjoy the slower pace that allows you to appreciate every sip and morsel.
If you do not finish your meal, do not ask for a to-go container (aka a doggy bag). And while it's customary in the United States to tip up to 20%, in France, the gratuities are included – listed as "service compris" on your bill and are usually about 18%.
Do: Try restaurants off the beaten path, further away from the tourist attractions.
Don't: Request modifications to your meal at a restaurant, as it's considered rude (unless for medical or dietary restrictions)
Paris is a charming and romantic destination and a major metropolitan city. With that in mind, you need to keep your wits about you and be conscientious of pickpocketers who prey on travelers. Utilize your hotel's safe (if there is one) to store valuables. Keep your bag or valuables in front of you when using the metro or visiting crowded tourist attractions. Avoid hanging your handbag on the back of your chair in restaurants and cafes. And don't carry an excessive amount of cash on you.
Forget your checklist of attractions to see, and instead, consider flaneur (strolling or meandering) with no real end game. While traveling, the best times are often not visiting attractions or following your itinerary to a 'T.' Instead, they're the genuine, authentic moments in between. It's the buttery pain-au-chocolat you eat on a park bench, the fromagerie you discover as you meander down cobbled side streets, or even the pride you feel when you complete an essential exchange in another language. Your memory of the trip will remain after your suitcase has been unpacked. And that's what you'll be looking forward to experiencing again.
Do: Soak it all in, people watch, and leave room in your travels for free time.
Don't: Visit Paris only once.
If you've been dreaming of visiting Paris and don't want to stand out like a tourist, Let's talk! You can reach me here.