When you live in Paris, you learn how to live like a Parisian. There are certain things you learn to do and things you learn not to do. But all of these ‘rules’ apply not only to locals but to visitors as well. So the next time you visit Paris, keep these 10 things in mind:
1. Don’t gamble or buy anything on the streets
I often see people gambling on certain tourist streets, especially the little cups game. This is a scam to steal money from you. I know it seems like fun and harmless enough but there are actually a few people working together to make you believe it is safe. Avoid playing these games; you will just lose your money!
2. Don’t butt out on the street
If you are a smoker, don’t throw your cigarette on the streets. A new law passed recently to prevent people from throwing their cigarette butts on the streets. Throw them in the trash. Otherwise, if a cop sees you, you will have to pay a fine of 68€. That’s a very expensive cigarette!
3. Avoid restaurants in very touristy spots
Restaurants in really touristy places aren’t usually the best. Trust travel guides to lead you to great restaurants that are off the beaten track. Restaurants around the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe or Notre-Dame may seem like typical French restaurants but you’ll spend a lot of money for a mediocre meal.
4. Don’t buy croissants or bread in big chain stores
You know us French people and our bread! Trust us, though. We don’t buy our bread in big chain stores or supermarkets. We buy our baguettes and croissants in local patisseries and boulangeries. And here’s a trick to help you determine if what you’re buying is really made right inside the bakery: If it says ‘artisan boulanger’ on the front window, the goods are made fresh inside, not frozen!
5. Stand right
We Parisians tend to be a bit impatient and many of us want to walk fast, so we have this rule to stand on your right when you’re on escalators to allow people to climb them quickly on your left.
6. Avoid expensive rooftops
If you’re looking for a killer view of Paris, avoid expensive rooftops and instead, try to find hidden gems, like the Printemps Terrace where you have a 360 view for free or the George Pompidou Terrace. Look for less expensive but better views such as at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, but avoid climbing up the Eiffel Tower. It’s very touristy and somewhat disappointing as we all want to see the Eiffel Tower in a skyline view of Paris!
7. Avoid fancy cafés
Avoid fancy cafés where you pay way too much for your cup of coffee. Instead, search out little cafés in less touristy neighborhoods. You’ll pay way less and the coffee might even be better! And in lots of cafés, if you sit by the counter, you can pay just 1€ for your coffee!
8. Learn a few words in French
Parisians are not rude. At least not all of them. They just appreciate when you make an effort to say just a few words in French. Just like when we go to the United States, we are expected to speak English. A simple ‘bonjour’ or ‘merci’ shows that you’re trying. And we really appreciate it!
9. Know what to expect in August
If you visit Paris in August, know that all Parisians are gone on vacation so the city has a great vibe because you feel like you have it for to yourself. But be aware that lots of shops and restaurants are closed then. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It pushes you to walk off the beaten track to find a restaurant that is open and actually good.
10. Walk, walk, walk
Opt for walking instead of taking the subway when you can. You might be surprised by the little streets, cute shops and amazing architecture you’d miss if you were simply taking the metro.