By now, we’ve all come to realize that the French don’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to being open and friendly to tourists. Though the country has acknowledged this and is attempting to make strides to be more welcoming to visitors, it couldn’t hurt to put more of an effort on your end to blend in. After all, when it comes to traveling, most of us want to find ways to experience the city like a local – so why not try your best to pass as one?
Now unless you’re fluent in the language and have been a frequent visitor to Paris for many years, you may be under the impression that shedding your flashy tourist badge is next to impossible. With these great tips however, you may just have a shot:
Walk the walk and talk the talk. Just like in New York City, Parisians walk with a purpose and don’t take kindly to those who walk at a snail’s pace and take up an entire walkway. If you want to stop and gaze at an interesting landmark or consult a map, move over to the side instead of stopping in your tracks and getting in the way of foot traffic. Additionally, keep in mind that as most Parisians are soft spoken individuals, speaking loudly in public can flag you as a tourist, which in turn could make you susceptible to pickpocketing.
Know what to wear. Parisian style is much different from American style. Before you step out in sweatpants, baseball caps, flip-flops or white sneakers, think casual chic instead. French women are big fans of skinny jeans, converse or ballerina flats, and they love their trench coats and blazers. Also, this may already be a given but fanny-packs and colorful backpacks are instant markings of a tourist. Instead, choose a nice, large leather purse or Longchamp bag. If the backpack is absolutely necessary, choose a color that doesn’t attract attention.
Learn some key phrases. Don’t be the American tourist who travels to another country and expects everyone to be willing and able to speak English. Out of respect, you should make a conscious effort to at least learn a few key phrases in French, such as “s’il vous plait” and “merci” (please and thank you), “bonjour” and “au revoir” (hello and goodbye), and “l’addition” (the bill). One more thing: never flag down your waiter by saying “garcon”! It’s the quickest way not to get your bill.
All in all, the key here is to be respectful and open to the culture and lifestyle of the Parisians, instead of expecting an entire country to succumb to your needs and expectations. If you do this, we can almost guarantee that your trip to France will be incredible!