Paris was, yet again, selected as one of the most popular cities in the world for travelers to visit, in 2019. From mouth-watering cuisine, dynamic culture and high-end couture, it’s no surprise that so many travel-enthusiasts are eager to experience this bustling metropolis for themselves. Everything about Paris oozes glamour and sophistication and we definitely recommend adding it to your 2020 travel bucket list – if it isn’t there already! Avoid the tourist traps and embrace your inner Parisian on your tour of Paris with these top tips.
Say Hello the Paris Way
Make a good first impression when you interact with locals on your Paris tour. Greeting people with ‘bonjour’ (hello) is a good place to start. You don’t need to be directly introduced to someone to show off your French language skills. Use this trusted phrase when you go into a shop, get approached by the waiter or order your drink at the bar. Wherever you communicate with locals show them that you respect their country and their language with this simple gesture. Not only is it polite but it will also guarantee you better service while you’re out exploring Paris’ bars and restaurants.
Bonjour is a useful phrase for all your Paris trips and can be used at any time of the day. If you really want to impress the locals, however, you should use the phrase bonsoir when greeting people in the evening time. This variation of the tradition hello, meaning good evening, is generally used as soon as the evening starts to fall. It can be a little tricky to determine what time exactly bonjour becomes bonsoir, especially during the summer months when the days last longer, so our top tip is to switch to bonsoir after 7pm.
Many locals like to exchange la bise (a kiss on both cheeks) when greeting one another. This generally occurs between women or between a man and a woman. Men very rarely exchange la bise between one another unless they are very close friends or family. A kiss on both cheeks is a common exchange between locals of mainland Europe. If you’re not one hundred percent familiar with this exchange it’s better to let a local take the lead to avoid any awkward head bangs!
Dress like a Local
Like we said, Parisians are exceptionally stylish folk. Leave the baseball caps and sweatpants at home if you want to fit in with the locals on your Paris city tour. High style doesn’t always mean expensive haute couture when it comes to Paris. Grab yourself a coffee and a croissant when you arrive to Paris city and do a few hours of people watching to get a feel for what Parisian fashion is all about. Effortlessly chic - you’ll see locals wear ripped mom jeans and Doc Martens paired with a form fitting blazer and traditional beret. If you’re visiting during the winter be sure to bring an oversized scarf for the ultimate fast-track to fitting in.
Master the Paris Transport System
Nothing will make you feel more at home in Paris than mastering its rather complex transport system. Of course, the best way to get around Paris is by foot and be sure to sign up to a Paris city walking tour to get your bearings on the city when you first arrive.
However, when your feet get tired from walking or the rain starts to pour it’s best to hope aboard the Métro to cover a lot of ground in very little time. Stations are made visible from a large prominent Métro sign towering high into the sky above them. Ticket machines can be found at the entrance of every station and you can either buy a single ticket or a little booklet of 10 if you plan on taking more trips. Métro lines are cleverly numbered and colored but if you’re a nervous traveler you can map your route out in advance on the RATP’s website.
Top tip: download the Métro map to your phone so you’ll have it close-by whenever you need it, even if your data runs out.
Taxis are another fun way to see the city and get around. They can be a little pricey though, and in a city as busy as Paris it’s better to get your hotel to book your taxi for you in advance to ensure they are no delays. Uber is illegal in Paris and trying to book a driver via the app could land you with a hefty fine.
Walk and Talk like a Parisian
Parisians, a lot like Londoners, walk with a purpose. They don’t race to through streets exactly, but they walk at a steady, efficient pace. They don’t take kindly to gangs of travelers walking slowly at three-a-breast and blocking the sidewalk. If you want to keep in favor with the locals while still enjoying a leisurely stroll through the city streets, it’s best to stick to the right-hand side of the sidewalk. If you need to refer to your map or look at your phone, we advise you 'pull-over' to the side of the road or to a quiet doorway to avoid standing in people’s way.
It’s not just walking that can cause a bit of controversy while sightseeing in Paris. Talking like a local while in Paris doesn’t mean putting on your finest French accent and trying to recall phrases you learnt in French class at high school. In fact, it’s must simpler than that. Parisian are very softly spoken. Embrace a quieter tone while in Paris to be the perfectly polite Parisian. Not only is speaking loudly in public deemed as a little arrogant but it can also attract some unwanted attention and singling you out as a tourist it could even make you a target for pickpockets!
These are just some of the dos and don’ts to follow on your Paris city tour. Follow these tips and people will think you’re a true local. And while embracing an air of sophistication and French flair on your trip to Paris can be a lot of fun there is also a lot of fun to be had in channeling your inner tourist too. Don’t miss out on Paris’ top tourist attractions while you are there, from tours of the Louvre to incredible day trips from Paris, discover it all in this Parisian paradise.