Dancing at the top of every traveller's bucket list gleams the City of Lights, a full out Parisian excursion to the very definition of cityscape wanderlust. Paris is not an easy task to take on, and there are some things to keep in mind before bashing into this historical city full force. The word culture comes from France, and it comes as no shock the Parisians consider Paris to be the very epitome of the word. Here are my list of things that you need to know to help you make your time in one of my favorite cities, much more enjoyable than walking in blind.
Dress Like You're Having Dinner with Your Boss
Mostly modest, but tasteful- Parisians are never sloppy. From trendy to severe, Parisian fashion knows no bounds (duh), but looking unpresentable is definitely not acceptable. Scarves are worn most of the year -even in summer- so consider throwing a few in your bag. They make a great day to night transition, and can add a little extra flare to any outfit. Those living in Paris tend not to be flamboyant, and muted colors, along with black and grays are a norm. Always check to see what the dress code is where you are heading to dinner, and remember that dressing up is always better than dressing down.
Keep It Cool
Though from what media shows us, the folks living in Paris are subtle and relatively quiet. Considering the fact they believe etiquette was born in Paris and is the epicenter, public behavior should not be brash or abrasive. Low voices and proper manners will get you further than being rude (shocker!). Don't assume just because someone is a Parisian, they are going to be rude, just as Parisians shouldn't assume Americans are ignorant. Let's fight the stereotype people, and respect the cultural norms by keeping our voices down.
Not Everyone Speaks English
Okay, so I feel like this one is self explanatory, but apparently it's not. The amount of people who consistently tell me how shocked they are when no one speaks English while they are abroad is pretty astounding. Well friends, I am here to tell you the locals are just as shocked you don't speak their language either. Look at it this way, when tourists come to America, do you guess at what country they are from and attempt to greet them in their native language, or do you say hello? You most likely say hello, unless you live in Miami. In Paris it's considered rude to assume everyone speaks English, and an easy "Parlez-vous anglais?" (I looked that one up!), goes a long way. Greeting with bonjour, and a merci after receiving change is always appreciated. A little bit of effort makes life a lot easier in the long run.
Like I said in my post about things I unfortunately had to learn while IN Paris, instead of before, follow the cross walks, but don't follow the lights. Parisians j-walk (usually within the cross walks), but I don't believe I ever saw a single person follow the light that blinks when to go or stop.
Moreover, while compared to most major US cities, Paris has a small area, you are still going to want to buy a metro card, or a booklet or 2 of tickets, depending on how long you are staying. Taxi's are hard to come by, and the metro is a guaranteed ride to anywhere in town. Don't forget to download the Paris Metro App to map out your route!!
Time to Wine and Dine
Like in many European countries dinner is late and takes anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours. You can range from a 6 course meal, to just drinks and an entree, but expect to sit down and enjoy yourself. Unless you're in a touristy area (but even then), count on places closing around 2:30 or 3 after lunch. Most restaurants won't reopen for dinner until 7 or 7:30 and will stay open until midnight. Plan your day accordingly and make sure to eat while there are places available, otherwise you might be stuck with a baguette from the grocery store (not really a bad alternative!).
Liked this post? Check out my Perfect 3 Day Paris Itinerary!