1. Take things slowly. Although rushing around is Parisian, rushing one’s pleasures is not. A beautiful moment, a drink, a view; all are best when thoroughly savored. Slow yourself down by finishing every meal with a coffee. No big milky cup—just a proper Parisian café. This tiny, delicate treat is how all locals end a meal. To avoid caffeine, just request a déca (“DAY-kah”).
2. You love Paris bakeries and patisseries. So you need to know the two key expressions. One, à emporter (“AH ahm-por-tay”), means you want the order “to go.” The other, sur place (“SUHR plass”—rhymes with “surface”), means you want to eat it there. Busy servers appreciate this, as do the others in line.
3. Paris is an old city filled with hard and tricky surfaces. Yet walking is the best way to see it. So before you come, treat yourself to a medical pedicure. You will not be sorry and you’ll certainly gain in stamina.
4. Wear your lipstick! Nothing makes a girl feel better and, in Paris, that confidence counts.
5. Watch out on the sidewalk. Outside the big boulevards, sidewalks here are very narrow. However, Parisians rush along them talking on their phones. Mesmerized by a sunset or shopwindow, it’s easy to stop suddenly. Then, the busy Parisian right behind will be thrown on top of you. Just stay aware of your surroundings; you’ll avoid collisions.
6. For photos in markets, inside boutiques or of individuals, ask before you snap. Here, the law gives people certain image rights—and market vendors, especially, often cause a scene. To ask before photographing a cute dog, a market find or a lovely flower display is just polite. It’s rare for anyone to say no unless kids are involved. Also, although they have given up on smart phones, most museums forbid flash photography. If you try it, angry guards will swoop down on you.
7. Parisians say pardon (“pahr-DOAN” … barely pronounce the n) rather thanexcusez-moi. To reach the door in a packed metro car, this is the word you need.
8. Don’t put up with unwanted attention in the street, in parks or on the metro. Central Paris is perfectly safe yet there are men who push the boundaries. If you’re in a busy place, someone else may tell them off. If not, say—directly and forcefully—”N’insistez pas!” (“Nahn-SIS-tay-pah!”)
9. If leaving the metro station through a door you have to push (a heavy metal door marked POUSSEZ in green), hold it open so it doesn’t strike the person behind you. Because the doors are heavy, this little gesture matters. In a city poll, Parisians claimed a recent drop in such door holding proves “that good manners are in decline.”
10. In cafés, you’ll feel better if you choose the right table. Not planning to eat? Don’t sit where it’s set for a meal. (Conversely, don’t sit at a bare table to order dinner.) If you’re squeezed for time but simply have to have a coffee? Order it standing at the bar. You can easily pay and leave, plus you’ll save some money.