Fit in Like a Local Parisian

Written by Erica Paredes

When traveling, it's never fun to stick out like a sore thumb, and seeming as "local" as possible is the way to go. Remember that when you are in a foreign country, you can't expect things to be like it is back home; otherwise, what's the point of traveling and experiencing the world? The French have the reputation for being unfriendly and not very welcoming to tourists, which is untrue, but they do appreciate it if you make an effort to adjust to their culture, instead of them adjusting to you.

Here are a few ways to blend in perfectly as a local Parisian:

Sit down when you eat - This sounds like a no brainer but you'd be surprised how many people run around during their lunch break while eating a sandwich or multi-task with a fast food burger in one hand, the wheel in the other, all while on their mobile phones. You will get looks from people if you do this in France. Sit down, relax and enjoy your food, even if it takes a whole hour to do so. Get back to life after your meal is done.

Know when to get the best baguettes - Buy your baguettes freshly baked in the morning, meaning before 7 am. If you don't wake up or had no time, you can always get your fill around 5 pm, when they start baking for dinner.

Dress nicely - In other countries, dressing in sweatpants and a wife beater might be acceptable but it's a no-no in Paris if you want to "localize" yourself. Parisians dress nicely, whether they are just running to the grocery to grab a few items or going to a party, so do your part and make an effort.

Say adieu to soda - Not forever, but while walking the streets of Paris, one must look refined and elegant, and chugging down a can of cola is not the way to do it. If you need your sugary, carbonated drink fix, sit down somewhere and drink it, lest you get dirty looks from the locals.

Drink moderately - This advice applies anywhere in the world, but in France, where it is acceptable to have wine with every meal, moderation key. The locals enjoy their vin, but you will rarely see them falling over themselves because they got too intoxicated. Drinking is a social activity and asking for more than a couple glasses with dinner might raise a few eyebrows.

Parlez vous Francais? - Speaking a little bit of French will immediately warm up seemingly aloof Parisians. As a foreigner, nobody expects you to be able to speak poetry in their language, the effort you put in learning some frequently used phrases will not go unappreciated.

Follow their (train) schedule - Parisians love to walk, and if they are in a rush or trying to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible, then they will take the Metro. Forget taking cabs unless you are really lost, which is close to impossible in Paris, or really tired and far from your hotel after a long day.


Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen
is the founder of The Parisian Diet, which is about the pleasure of eating and being able to eat all types of food.

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