Parisians are like coconuts, or at least, that is how they were described to me when I lived in the city. They are hard and prickly on the outside but if you can get under their shell they are sweet on the inside, and you’ll forever be in their circle. Americans on the other hand, are more like peaches. They are soft and sweet on the outside, but have a hard, rough center. We’re friendly with everyone but very few people can get through our rough peach pit. Take a minute to wrap your head around that before you try diving into Parisian culture.
When living in or visiting any city, it is important to blend in so that you don’t fall prey to city schemes. Paris is notorious for gypsy scams, flirtatious men, and pickpockets. Not to mention the fact that most Parisians won’t offer you help if you don’t at least greet them in your native language. If you’re nervous about your first time to Paris, these are a few ways to stay safe in the most romantic city in the world.
So much can be said with a smile and in France it says “I want you”. There were several times on the metro when I would laugh with my friends and accidentally glance at the man in the seat across from me only for him to think I am flirting with him. Not to mention, the men who click at young women on the side of the road. Definitely don’t smile at them unless you want some seriously unwanted attention. If you want to blend in, politely smile without your teeth.
Learn A Little French
My roommate in Paris refused to say “Bonjour” before speaking to Parisians. Typically they all turned their backs to her and refused to acknowledge her presence. It is only polite to greet Parisians in their own language. If you don’t speak any French at least say “Bonjour” and “Merci”. It would be beneficial to pick up Duolingo and learn some of the basics before attempting to get around Paris.
Think Casual Chic
No sneakers, no sweatpants, no shorts or flip flops and light or neutral makeup. Paris is the leader of the fashion world, and although not everyone is getting ready for the runway, you shouldn’t look like Joey from Dawson’s Creek, season 1. Scarves, slacks, and classy shoes will go a long way in the city of love. Also, don’t show too much skin, you’ll gain the same unwanted attention from showing too much teeth in your smile.
Know Where You’re Going
Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time. No one looks more like a tourist than when they don’t know where they’re going. Take ten minutes before you head out for the day to map your metro routes and the streets you need to take.
Carrying backpacks and lots of luggage through Parisian streets is a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist. And it makes you more of a target for gypsies and theft. The only downside of packing light is, if you’re staying more than a week in Paris, you’ll need to find a laundromat to wash your clothes. In that case, packing laundry detergent should be a priority. If you can take extra spending money with you, packing light and heading home with a new outfit or two can be a fun souvenir.
Take Your Time
Enjoy one of the most beautiful cities in the world! Parisians know how to slow down, walk the streets, and revel in the moment. You’re in Paris! Eat street crepes and peek into courtyards. You’ll find beauty in every corner of the city.