Do And Don’ts In Paris?

Paris, the city of lights, romance, and incredible cuisine. If you’re planning a trip to this enchanting destination, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts to make the most of your experience. From navigating the metro system like a pro to understanding the unwritten rules of dining etiquette, this article will provide you with invaluable tips and advice to ensure a smooth and memorable stay in the capital of France. So, grab your beret, brush up on your French phrases, and get ready to explore the magic of Paris!

Etiquette

Greeting customs

When it comes to greeting customs in Paris, it is polite to greet someone with a friendly “Bonjour” (good day) or “Bonsoir” (good evening). It is considered rude to simply start a conversation without a proper greeting. Additionally, it is customary to say “Au revoir” (goodbye) or “Bonne journée” (have a nice day) before parting ways. Remember to always address people with “Monsieur” (Sir) or “Madame” (Madam) unless given permission to use their first name.

Dress code

Parisians are known for their impeccable style, so it’s important to dress appropriately when visiting the city. While there is no strict dress code, it is generally favored to dress more elegantly and avoid overly casual attire. Opt for stylish outfits and avoid wearing athletic wear or flip flops, especially when dining out or visiting more formal establishments. It’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed in Paris.

Tipping

In Paris, tipping is customary but not obligatory. If you receive good service at a restaurant or café, it is polite to leave a small tip of around 5-10% of the total bill. However, be mindful that some establishments may already include a service charge in the bill. When it comes to taxis, it is common practice to round up the fare or leave a small tip as a gesture of appreciation. Always remember to consider the level of service received before deciding on the tip amount.

Transportation

Using the Metro

Paris boasts an extensive and efficient metro system, making it the ideal mode of transportation for getting around the city. Before entering the metro, make sure to purchase a ticket or a rechargeable metro card. Remember to validate your ticket at the entrance gate by inserting it into the machine. When traveling on the metro, offer your seat to the elderly or those in need, as it is considered polite. Keep in mind that rush hour can be extremely crowded, so be prepared for packed trains during peak times.

Navigating public buses

The public bus system in Paris is another convenient way to get around the city. Look for bus stops marked with numbers to know where to board. When boarding the bus, enter through the front door and validate your ticket or card using the machine inside. It’s important to keep in mind that buses in Paris operate on a strict schedule, so make sure to check the timetables to avoid missing your desired bus.

Taking a taxi

If you prefer a more direct and personalized mode of transportation, taxis are readily available in Paris. Many taxi companies offer both regular taxis and “Uber-like” services through mobile applications. When hailing a taxi, look for the illuminated sign on the roof to indicate availability. It is customary to greet the driver with a friendly “Bonjour” and to sit in the backseat. Remember that fares in Paris are regulated, so be wary if a driver tries to negotiate a higher price.

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Safety

Beware of pickpockets

Like in any major city, pickpocketing can be a concern in Paris. Stay vigilant and be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded areas such as tourist attractions, metro stations, and markets. Avoid keeping valuables in easily accessible pockets and consider using a money belt or keeping important items secured in a crossbody bag. It’s also advisable to avoid displaying flashy jewelry or expensive electronics, as this could make you a target for theft.

Stay aware at tourist attractions

When visiting popular tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre Museum, it is important to stay aware of your surroundings. These sites can attract large crowds, making it easier for pickpockets to operate. Keep your belongings close and be cautious of distractions, such as people asking for directions or offering unwanted services. It’s always better to be cautious and take extra steps to ensure your safety.

Avoid dark and deserted areas at night

To ensure your safety in Paris, it’s advisable to avoid poorly lit and deserted areas, especially at night. Stick to well-lit main streets and popular areas where there are typically more people around. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, it’s always better to trust your instincts and find a safer route or take a taxi to your destination. Remember, your safety should always be a priority.

Cultural Sensitivity

Respect for local customs

When visiting any country, it’s important to respect and adhere to local customs and traditions. In Paris, one should always maintain a level of respect for the culture. For instance, it is customary to greet people with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek, known as “la bise.” Additionally, it is considered impolite to speak loudly in public places or engage in disruptive behavior. By being aware and respectful of these customs, you will ensure a positive and enjoyable experience in Paris.

Avoiding loud and disruptive behavior

Parisians appreciate a certain level of peace and serenity in public spaces. Avoid shouting, playing loud music, or engaging in rowdy behavior that could disrupt the surrounding atmosphere. Keep in mind that many Parisians live in close quarters, and excessive noise can be seen as disrespectful. By being considerate of others and practicing good etiquette, you will be ensuring a harmonious experience for everyone around you.

Understanding dining etiquette

Dining in Paris is a cherished social experience, and it’s important to understand and appreciate the local dining etiquette. When dining out, it is customary to wait to be seated rather than taking the initiative to find a table yourself. Keep in mind that the French take their time during meals, so avoid rushing your dining experience. It is considered polite to keep your hands on the table (not in your lap), and always use utensils to eat, rather than eating with your hands. Remember to say “Bon appétit” before starting your meal and “Merci” when expressing gratitude to the server.

Language

Basic French phrases

While many Parisians speak English, making an effort to learn a few basic French phrases can go a long way in demonstrating respect and building rapport. Some essential phrases to know include “Bonjour” for hello, “Merci” for thank you, “S’il vous plaît” for please, and “Excusez-moi” for excuse me. Simple greetings and common phrases can help establish a friendly atmosphere and show your appreciation for the local culture.

Polite greetings

When meeting someone for the first time, it is customary to exchange greetings politely. A handshake is the most common form of greeting, accompanied by “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” depending on the time of day. If you have already established a friendly rapport, it is customary to greet with a kiss on each cheek, known as “la bise.” Be aware that the number of cheek kisses can vary, so follow the lead of the person you are greeting.

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Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

Politeness is highly valued in French culture, so it’s essential to use “S’il vous plaît” when asking for something or making a request. When expressing gratitude, saying “Merci” is enough to show your appreciation. Remember that a sincere “Merci” goes a long way in demonstrating your respect for the local customs and values.

Sightseeing

Visiting the Eiffel Tower

A trip to Paris is incomplete without a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. To make the most of your experience, it is advisable to book tickets in advance to avoid long queues. Once there, be prepared for crowds, especially during peak tourist seasons. Take some time to admire the stunning views of Paris from different vantage points, and if you’re feeling adventurous, consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator to reach the top. Remember to snap plenty of photos and soak in the beauty of one of the world’s most recognized landmarks.

Exploring Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum is home to some of the world’s most famous artistic masterpieces, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. With its vast collection, it’s impossible to see everything in one visit, so plan accordingly. Consider booking your tickets online to skip the long queues and make sure to wear comfortable shoes, as the museum is vast and involves a lot of walking. Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the stunning architecture of the museum itself, and take your time admiring the art that captures your interest the most.

Taking a Seine River cruise

Exploring Paris by boat is a fantastic way to see the city from a different perspective. Consider taking a Seine River cruise to enjoy breathtaking views of iconic landmarks such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower. Many cruises offer commentary in multiple languages, allowing you to learn more about the history and significance of the sights along the way. Whether during the day or at night, a river cruise will undoubtedly add a touch of romantic charm to your visit to Paris.

Food and Drink

Trying local cuisine

Paris is a gastronomic paradise, offering a wide array of delicious dishes to satisfy all tastes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try classic French dishes such as Escargots de Bourgogne (snails), Coq au Vin (chicken in red wine sauce), or Beef Bourguignon (beef stewed in red wine). Indulge in delectable pastries like croissants, macarons, and pain au chocolat. Step into a local café and savor a traditional French breakfast of café au lait (coffee with milk) and a buttery croissant. Embrace the culinary adventures that Paris has to offer and be open to trying new flavors.

Dining hours and reservations

In Paris, dining hours tend to differ from those in other countries. Lunch is typically served between 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM, while dinner is served from 7:30 PM onwards. Many popular restaurants require reservations, especially during weekends and peak tourist seasons, so it is advisable to plan ahead and book a table in advance. Take your time while dining and savor the experience rather than rushing through the meal. Remember, dining in Paris is not just about nourishment; it’s a cultural experience to be enjoyed.

Ordering coffee

Coffee plays a significant role in French culture, and ordering it correctly is essential. When you walk into a café, it is customary to greet the server with a polite “Bonjour” before placing your order. Parisians usually enjoy their coffee in small servings, so don’t be surprised when you’re served an espresso by default. If you prefer a larger cup of coffee, ask for “un café allongé.” In Parisian cafés, you will often find a selection of pastries or small snacks to enjoy alongside your coffee.

Shopping

Navigating Parisian markets

Exploring the bustling markets of Paris is a must for any visitor. From the famous Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen to the vibrant street markets like Marché Bastille, the city offers a range of shopping experiences. As you navigate the markets, be prepared for crowds and practice caution to avoid pickpockets. Embrace the opportunity to browse through various stalls selling everything from antiques to vintage clothing, fresh produce, and local delicacies. Remember to always negotiate prices respectfully, as haggling is a common practice in some markets.

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Quality vs. tourist traps

While shopping in Paris, it’s important to be aware of the difference between quality establishments and tourist traps. Avoid shops located right next to major attractions or those with overly pushy salespeople. Instead, seek out local boutiques and specialty stores that showcase authentic French craftsmanship. Paris is known for its high-quality fashion, perfume, and gourmet products, so take the time to do some research and discover hidden gems that offer unique and genuine items.

Tax refund for tourists

If you are a non-EU resident, you may be eligible for a tax refund for your purchases in Paris. Look for shops labeled with “Tax Free Shopping” or “Global Blue” signs to ensure that your purchases qualify for a refund. At the time of purchase, ask for a tax refund form, and make sure to keep your receipts. When departing France, visit the customs desk at the airport to get your form stamped. Finally, head to the tax refund office to claim your refund. It’s a great opportunity to save some money and make your shopping experience even more rewarding.

Entertainment

Attending a cabaret show

Paris is synonymous with cabaret, and attending a show is a must for an unforgettable evening. The world-famous Moulin Rouge, Lido, and Crazy Horse are just a few of the iconic venues where you can witness spectacular performances. Enjoy the glamour, music, and breathtaking dance routines while sipping on champagne and immersing yourself in the magical atmosphere. Remember to book your tickets in advance to secure the best seats and arrive dressed appropriately to embrace the glamorous spirit of the evening.

Enjoying live music

Paris has a vibrant live music scene that caters to all tastes. Whether you’re looking for jazz, classical, or contemporary music, you’ll find countless venues that showcase talented musicians. Visit jazz clubs like Le Duc des Lombards or New Morning for a soulful experience, or head to concert halls like La Philharmonie de Paris or Opéra Bastille for classical performances. No matter what genre you prefer, enjoying live music in Paris is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the city’s cultural heritage.

Exploring Parisian nightlife

Paris is known for its lively nightlife, and there are plenty of options for those looking to experience the city after dark. From rooftop bars with stunning views of the city skyline to trendy nightclubs and cozy wine bars, the choice is endless. Explore neighborhoods like Le Marais or Pigalle, known for their vibrant nightlife scenes, or opt for a leisurely walk along the banks of the Seine River, where you’ll find pop-up bars and outdoor music performances. Just remember to drink responsibly and take necessary precautions to ensure your safety.

Day Trips

Versailles Palace

A visit to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a day trip to the magnificent Palace of Versailles. Located just outside the city, this opulent palace offers a glimpse into the lavish lives of the French monarchy. Explore the grand halls, exquisite gardens, and the famous Hall of Mirrors, which played a significant role in European history. Consider taking a guided tour to fully immerse yourself in the rich history and stunning architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Disneyland Paris

For a day of fun and adventure, Disneyland Paris is the perfect destination. Located just a short train ride away from the city center, this beloved theme park offers magical experiences for visitors of all ages. From meeting beloved Disney characters to thrilling rides and enchanting shows, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Take a break from sightseeing in Paris and let your inner child come alive as you explore the whimsical world of Disney.

Fontainebleau Forest

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will delight in a day trip to Fontainebleau Forest, located south of Paris. This vast forest offers picturesque landscapes, serene walking trails, and unique opportunities for rock climbing and bouldering. Take a break from the bustling city and immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings of nature. Pack a picnic, rent a bike, or simply stroll through the forest, and enjoy a day of relaxation and rejuvenation.

By following these tips and guidelines, your visit to Paris will be filled with cultural immersion, unforgettable experiences, and the opportunity to create cherished memories. Explore the city with an open mind and a friendly attitude, and you will undoubtedly fall in love with the charm and beauty that Paris has to offer. Bon voyage!