5 ways to become more Parisian just in time for Bastille Day.
Planning a trip to Paris? Or simply looking to add a splash of très chic to your life? I have five tips on what (and what not) to do, to become a real Parisian, or at least pretend to be one, just in time for Bastille Day.
The ‘city of love’, where people’s passion and seductiveness (French kissing, hello) naturally add to the already romantic ambience, is not only a mecca for the hopeless romantics. Paris is, after all, one of the most exquisite cities to indulge in all the magnificent things life has to offer, with its rich culture, architecture, food and shopping.
So if you’re starving for croissants, cabarets and escargots and planning a visit to the French capital where you would like to feel just as très chic like a true Parisian, I’ve listed five (relatively manageable) ways to fake it:
1. Navigate the coffee minefield (the pastries I’ll leave for another day)
Similar to the South European countries the French don’t drink milky coffees after breakfast. A latte after lunch is a big no-no! So to get your coffee order right, ensure you adhere to:
A strong crème café, petit or grand (avoid the too milky café au lait) or a noisette (macchiato) for breakfast.
Always drink a Parisian espresso after lunch or dinner known as ‘un café’, and again, never white coffee.
For extra Parisian points make sure you sit for a few hours over your black coffee people watching through your Givenchy sunglasses whilst pretending to read the local newspaper Le Monde, or, of course, your favourite fashion magazine. A worn copy of ‘La Jeune Fille et la Nuit’ by Guillaume Musso discreetly showing from your handbag will complete the act.
2. Waiters are not Garcons
When in Paris it’s important to remember that Parisian waiters are professionals, not students or unemployed actors looking to earn some extra money, and they expect to be treated with respect.
Order in French (when in Rome..), look confident, say the words out and smile.
It is not expected to tip in French restaurants, as mentioned in the bill and on the menu, the service is included.
3. Learn to flâneur (and wear flats)
The translation of flâneur is to stroll aimlessly which is something the Parisians are masters at given the city is built for pedestrians.
Stroll along the boulevards, cafes and the river Seine but make sure to avoid Champs Elysee.
4. Don’t commit a fashion faux pas
Parisians are well known for their immaculate dressing sense and they would never even in the most sweltering days of summer think about wearing a pair of shorts in the city, so to avoid being treated like a tourist, you shouldn’t either.
And if you’re getting rid of the shorts you might as well toss the trainers too since the Parisians detest looking like they’re just about to ‘go on a hike’ or to the gym.
Smarten up your outfits and, if in doubt, wear black.
5. Parlez-Vous Francais?
You can slip on a beret, carry baguettes under your arm and channel your inner Brigitte Bardot, however, unless you speak French no one is going to take you for a true Parisian.
Start with the basic phrases and watch French movies to get the pronunciation right. In Paris, a broken, and God forbid -accent-laden French is simply unforgivable. If ever in doubt, act cool and let your tailored French designer outfit do the talking.