Do's and Don'ts: Being a Tourist in Paris


How to Be a Good Tourist in Paris

Parisians have a love hate-relationship with tourists. Actually its more of a tolerance-hate relationship, because I don't think that they love tourists. Tourists are great when they come to try and learn about Paris and embrace the French culture. And let's not forget the money that comes in from tourists. And that's as much tolerance as Parisians have for tourists. So how do you make the most out of your vacation to Paris? How to you be respectful while taking advantage of everything that it has to offer? Here's how to be a pleasant tourist in Paris.


Don't get frustrated when people don't respond to you right away because you started a conversation in English rather than French. People expect you to at least make an effort. They find it incredibly rude when you don't say a single word in French and some will go out of their way to make sure that you learn that lesson. I watched a guard keep repeating bonjour madame until one woman finally got the hint that she should at least say bonjour and then ask her question. Lets just say it took them a while.


Learn the words bonjour or s'il vous plait and you are off to a great start. Parisians know that you don't speak French, they can already tell that you are a tourist if you're dressed in yoga pants and tennis shoes. But they still want you to make an effort to try and at least say one word. By saying hello and then asking them you're question, you will already be treated better. Most people in Paris speak English, but flatter them a little by giving it your best attempt.


Don't say how you think the Arc de Triomphe is bad so loud that everyone in the area can hear you. And absolutely do not say that you think that they ripped off the Italians. Insert instant glares from every English speaking French person around.


I know it's natural not like everything this wonderful world has to offer, but at least be discreet about it. You don't need to announce it to every French person in Paris, especially since some of us find the Arc de Triomphe to be pretty amazing, even if they did model it after the Italians. So just be polite.


Let's just say that between 7am and 10am and 6pm and 8pm the metro is going to be packed full of people going to and from work. You know when you are driving home from a long day of work and there's traffic because someone got pulled over and everyone is rubbernecking and it takes you that much longer because people have to slow down to see what happened. You know that frustration.? That is the frustration that Parisians get when a tourist stops in front of the metro doors because they're lost or confused. Please please please move out of the way unless you want to be shoved around. No one wants to miss the metro, so please don't block the entrance because you don't know if you're on the right one.


Do step to the side or plan your route ahead of time. The metro in Paris is clearly marked so you always just have to follow the signs. If you have a question, move aside and ask someone that seems to not be trying to shove themselves in like a sardine into the metro. There are always people that will step back and catch the next metro. Ask them rather than the ones that seem impatient to get on the train. You're more likely to get a better response.

Parisians are very proud of their culture and go to great lengths to preserve it. So whatever you do, just be respectful and keep an open mind and you will have a great time.

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