Bonjour de Paris! I’ve been here for just about five days, and it really is the City of Love. I love the beautiful architecture here. The restaurants are so quaint, the people so lovely.
So, you want to be a true Parisienne? Well, you’re in luck! I’ve learned several things about how to successfully (and *respectfully*) navigate French culture, Paris as a city, and how to live life in Europe.
- Say “Bonjour” to restaurant workers before anything else. Americans have a stereotype about the French: we think, for some reason, that the French are rude. However, in America, we can just walk into a restaurant or bar and begin asking for what we want without saying hello (we might be a little rude for doing so, but it’s really nbd). In France, however, a greeting is the required opener for any conversation. Walk into the restaurant/bar, say Bonjour! to an employee, and you’ll be happily served. Really, isn’t this the way we ought to address one another, anyway?
- Prepare to spend at least 1.5 hours on restaurant meals/meals in general. This goes for all of Europe, in my experience. Eating meals is an experience in Europe… it’s . not just to refuel your body. No one uses their phone, everyone is talking to each other, and the entire thing lasts a long time. In addition, people often sit outside underneath or next to heaters. This is probably because a lot of Europeans smoke cigarettes, but I think it’s also because there’s a different attitude toward mealtime in general: it’s to enjoy. Enjoy the air, the food, the time together.
- For buying bread: buy something called a “traditional”. It’s exactly like a baguette, but it’s more of a ~local~ thing.
- For buying wine: 10 euros will get you a great bottle of wine. Seriously. At any grocery store. Look for “aop” on menus and on bottles–this means it’s locally sourced and probably really good.
- Be a money-smart tourist: Instead of paying 25 euros to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, pay 11 euros to go up Montparnasse. It’s a big business building across the street, and they have an Empire-State-Building-esque lookout. This way, you can also see Paris from above including the Eiffel, and it’s half the price.
- Take the metro! They have Uber here in Paris, and sometimes that’s nice when you’re returning from partying really early in the morning or you need to be somewhere quickly, but the metro is the cheapest way to get around. Not to mention it’s how to locals travel!
- But be conscious of time. Tn Paris, there’s the regular metro (1,90 euros for a one-way ticket), and there’s the RER. The RER is some kind of ~fancy~ train that’s a lot more expensive to use. BUT…it’s worth it to go pay for the RER train to Versailles if you want to see it. Trust me on this one. Versailles Palace was intentionally built way outside of Paris, so it’s not like super easy to get to. The RER may be 14.99 euros (as compared to the 3.80 euro round-trip ticket for the regular metro); but it takes four metros, a 6 euro Uber ride (or a 2 mile walk from the final metro station), and 2.5 hours to get there otherwise. See if perhaps your hostel or hotel provides a shuttle–that would be another relatively inexpensive and quicker option.
- Be prepared to spend a lot of money. Paris is expensive. This is a general rule for everywhere, but the father away from tourist attractions you can get, the cheaper things will be. For example, the cafes around the Eiffel Tower are like 14,50 euros for a salad (maybe $19-20 USD equivalent). It’s worth the walk, in my opinion!
Paris has been a dream of mine for most of my life. I can’t believe I have spent this amazing week here. Stay tuned for a play-by-play.
What are your best tourist tips? Leave them in the comments below–I’d love to hear your thoughts!