When you go to a city like Paris, it's easy to look like a tourist. Even if you're a local! You could've moved to Paris
and have stayed here for a decade now and still look like a tourist! And not that there's anything wrong with that, but it can get pretty frustrating if people think that you are. Or if you really are a tourist but don't want to look like a caricature of one and draw away locals. So what do you do then? Well, brushing up on your French can help. As would avoid dressing like a cartoonish stereotype of a Parisian.
Ditch The Beret
Possibly the worst thing you can do on your trip to France is personify cartoonish stereotypes. And in Paris, that means the beret! Although a lot of Parisians actually do wear berets, they don't do it often. Nor do they look like the cartoonish stereotype pop culture has led you to believe over the years. So instead of looking like you came straight out of a Disney film
set in Paris, you're better off ditching the beret altogether.
Tourists tend to overdress when they visit Paris. Seeing as it is the most influential fashion capital in the world, you can't blame them. In an effort to blend in with the locals in Paris, you might end up overdressed and, again, looking like a cartoonish version of a Parisian. But in truth, true Parisian style
is simple, easy, and elegant. A Breton shirt
and a nice pair of jeans are enough. Or a white shirt paired with linen too. The simpler your outfit is, the better!
Always Say Bonjour
Wherever you go in Paris, always greet people with a “Bonjour!” The word means “Hello” in French and is the most basic phrase in the entire language. Whether you're entering a shop or approaching someone for help, always start with a “Bonjour.” It's a polite way of greeting and, in most cases, starting up a conversation. Moreover, if you pronounce it correctly, Parisians will initially think that you're a local yourself. How's that for avoiding looking like a tourist?
Learn Some Basic French
Speaking of the French language, you really ought to learn more than just “Bonjour.” Brushing up on all the basics would really help. Not only will it make you seem and sound like a local, but it's also good manners in France
to know a little French. For example, when you're walking down the street and you can't understand what the sign says, just say “Que veut dire ça?
” (What does that mean?). And if you need them to repeat it, humbly say “Repetez, s'il vous plait
” (Repeat, please).
Kiss Both Cheeks
Staying on the topic of greetings, going in for a hug when you first meet someone will clearly show that you're a tourist. Here in France, especially in the very cosmopolitan Paris, greetings come in the form of kisses on both cheeks. You might think that a kiss would seem too intimate, especially when you're meeting new people, but in Paris, it's the norm. Sometimes, even a handshake would seem a bit too distant.
Let's say you enter one of the many charming cafes in Paris. It's a crowded place where both locals and tourists are dining. How can you tell if someone is a tourist? Well, look for the loudest in the room. Typically, Parisians speak softly when they're surrounded by people. They're only loud enough that the person they're talking to can hear them. As such, you can avoid looking like a tourist in Paris by simply speaking in a gentler tone.
Avoid Eye Contact in The Métro
When you take the Paris Métro
, always keep your eyes to yourself. Looking at other people and staring directly at them is a definite no-no when taking public transport in Paris
. Especially the Métro, which is usually crowded no matter the time of day. Once you get inside, you'll notice that most people are either looking at their phones, reading a book, or even sleeping. Those whose eyes wander about are obviously tourists who don't know about this unspoken rule.
Know the Difference Between A Cafe & Bistro
One of the best parts of visiting Paris is getting to relax in a cafe. But are you sure the place you're at actually is a cafe? There are many cafes in Paris, sure, but there are tons of bistros as well. It's important to know the difference between the two. For one thing, you don't have to wait for someone to seat you when you enter a cafe. In a bistro, however, you'll have to wait for the host to lead you to a free table.
Tipping is also fairly different in Paris (and the rest of France) compared to other parts of the world. Typically, the tip is already included in your receipt, under “service compris
” (service charge). This means you don't have to give cash to your server or on the table. Tip boxes for credit cards are also virtually non-existent. With that said, however, it's customary to at least leave a Euro coin or two before you leave.
Don't Ask For Doggy Bags
And finally, don't ask for a doggy bag! Parisians hardly ask to bring leftovers home when they dine out. Whether they're in a Michelin-starred restaurant
or a cheap bistro, they make it a point to finish everything on their plates. It's probably why the French capital is notorious for its small portions! So when you're in Paris, try to finish all your food. Asking for a doggy bag won't just let everyone know that you're a tourist, but they might look at you differently (and not in a good way!) as well.
Paris is one city where you don't want to look like a typical tourist. Fortunately, it's actually fairly easy to look and act like a local in the French capital. You just need to know the right way to act and dress.