First time in Paris? Read this
Ah Paris, the city of love. Here are a few tips to get you prepared for your first trip to one of my favorite bustling cities.
Learn some French
A common misconception in France, especially in Paris, is that Parisians are rude. As an east coast gal myself (east coasters are known to be a little rude too), I personally did not find this to be true. One time my family and I were on vacation in Jamaica, and we came across a couple from Paris. We had visited Paris as a kid and didn't love how unfriendly the Parisians were so, we asked them, "Why are Parisians so rude?"
They chuckled then replied, "We're just snooty. French is an old language, and we respect people who speak it."
So, here's the trick- before you come, pick up some French.
When you enter a shop or store, always greet the employees with a smile and "bonjour." Most often, people will respond with "comment ca va" or, "how are you." And all you have to do is say, "tres bien, et tois?" or something of the variation. From there, let them know that you don't speak French, and more often or not in Paris, they'll switch over to English or at least be far more willing to struggle through it with you. And most importantly, they tend to be a lot kinder to you.
Here's a link to French 101 to get started.
Download the Bolt App
We all know Uber, but what if I told you that each country has its preference for on-demand taxi services? In France, I see more people using BlaBlaCar and my personal favorite, Bolt. Bolt is NOT used in the US, but is widely used across the world. While the metro in Paris is pretty easy to navigate and the city is extremely walkable, when I needed to hitch a ride I found Bolt to be the most cost-friendly and reliable.
You can download the Bolt app here.
Ask For Your Restaurant Bill
This is not unique to Paris, but, just a friendly reminder that the French do not dine as we do in the US. Dining is an experience meant to be enjoyed. No crazed waiter is dropping a bill at your table telling you to "take your time." Actually, there's no one coming at all. You have to ask for the bill.
Waiters will come around with a tiny card machine, and you'll check out directly at your table. A tip is not expected and can often be seen as rude to do. But if the service was exceptional, feel free to leave something.
And yes that means you also have to ask for water, that does not come automatically either. Don't want to pay for the water? Ask for tap water and avoid agreeing to "sparkling or still."
Abandon Expectations and Have Fun
Have you heard of Paris Syndrome? In layman's terms- it's when you're essentially underwhelmed by a place because it doesn't meet your previously conceived notion of what you thought something would be. And if one city is going to do that to you, it's Paris.
We truly have a knack for romanticizing the city of love. It's the premier destination for romance, and glitz, and yet- people would be shocked to know that sometimes the streets are dirty. And people smoke a lot. And people can be unfriendly. Which turns that pretty little dream we have a place into, well, a nightmare.
Now, there's no cure for Paris Syndrome. But if I was a doctor, I would prescribe that you remove expectations and enjoy. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to see it all. Grab an espresso and a glass of wine at a Brasserie and take in the fact that you're in Paris and that's pretty freaking cool.
Alright, now you're prepped and ready to go! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below.