Top Ten Ways to Piss Off a Parisian
Today I’ll be writing to you about how to piss of a Parisian, and how to avoid these simple mistakes. There are a lot of every day cultural differences in Paris, which can easily be misinterpreted. A simple gesture that’s normal in one country can be considered rude in another, this goes for France, too.
Paris is a dreamy city, and a top destination for many travelers. With wonders such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame, it’s no wonder that Paris is the most visited city in the world. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, great shopping and delectable foods, Paris is loved by visitors and locals alike. When visiting a new city, a lot can depend on your experience with the local people. Abroad, Parisians often have a reputation for being rude, arrogant or impolite. These are some incorrect stereotypes, and I’m here to help you have a positive experience in Paris. If you follow my simple tips, you’re sure to have a wonderful time in Paris!
1. Don’t Say “Bonjour” or Au “Revoir” When Entering and Leaving a Shop
There are many great stores and shopping streets in Paris, but there’s one rule you should know. In France, it’s customary to say bonjour when you go into a store or restaurant and au revoir when leaving. This simple gesture is very important in French culture, and makes a huge difference. If you enter a shop and say nothing, it is considered rude, and you probably won’t get good service. Make sure to always say hello and goodbye when you go shopping in Paris, even in a supermarket. A simple greeting is always appreciated and will show Parisians that you respect their culture.
2. Assume Everyone Speaks English
Paris is a very international and cosmopolitan city, but French is still the official language. Unfortunately, many visitors will just assume everyone speaks English without asking, which can definitely piss off a Parisian. The truth is, many Parisian people do speak English, and would probably be happy to speak it with you, if you simply ask. When you go to a restaurant, store, etc. you can say parlez-vous anglais? This is a simple way to ask if someone speaks English, and is much more polite than simply assuming. A little courtesy like this goes a long way, and ensures you won’t piss off a Parisian.
3. Use Poor Metro Manners
As you can imagine, with over 2 million people living in Paris and 30 million visitors each year, the metro can get very crowded. During rush hours especially, you can expect the subway to be full, and you may have to wait for a second train. People can get very impatient in the metro, but if you have good metro manners, you can avoid pissing off a Parisian. A few things to remember: don’t take up an extra seat with your bag, but rather hold it on your lap. If an elderly person or pregnant woman is on board, you should offer them your seat. Lastly, if the train is crowded, don’t use the fold-down chairs. These simple manners will help you to have a pleasant Paris metro experience.
4. Don’t Carry Any Cash With You
With so much incredible shopping in Paris, you won’t want to miss out on any amazing finds. Many great shops in Paris are small and family-owned, and may not accept credit cards. In most bakeries, convenience stores and boutiques there is a minimum charge (€20) for using your bank card, and some stores won’t accept foreign cards. You’ll end up pissing off a Parisian and yourself if you find the object of your dreams but can’t pay for it. If you’re not in the habit already, you will save yourself and the salesperson a hassle by carrying some small cash with you.
5. Ask for Food/Drinks To-Go
In sit-down French cafés and restaurants, they do not offer to-go or “doggy bag” options for your meal or drinks. This is largely a cultural difference and due also to smaller, more manageable portions being served. In France, it’s important to take the time to enjoy your meal, or your coffee which cannot really be done on the go. If you ask the waiter to pack up the rest of your unfinished meal, you’re sure to confuse or piss off a Parisian. There are of course, plenty of places offering take-away food and drinks, if you’re in a hurry.
6. Turn Your Nose Up at the Food
France is known for having the best cuisine in the world, and Paris has some of the best restaurants. While some of the specialties like escargots, frog legs, pâté, or stinky cheese can seem strange to a visitor, they are really worth a try. Have you heard “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Don’t judge French food until you’ve tasted it! Until you’ve tried a dish, keep your negative comments to yourself so you don’t piss off a Parisian. You might be surprised when you first try French food, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find a new favorite dish.
7. Be Obnoxiously Loud in Restaurants/Public
In France, and especially in Paris, I’ve found people are private and don’t speak too loudly in public. Since there are so many people sharing the small space of Paris, it’s important to respect your neighbors. Nothing is more likely to piss off a Parisian than trying to enjoy a meal with friends and hearing your conversation from across the room. Not to mention, if you’re speaking English, you can bet everyone understands what you’re saying. Just pay attention and use an indoor voice, and you won’t bother anyone.
8. Constantly Be in a Hurry
In a city like Paris, there’s so much to see and experience so it’s tempting to rush around rather than taking your time. Being constantly impatient or in a rush will definitely piss off a Parisian. In French culture, part of the “art de vivre” is taking the time to enjoy every day life. This is very different than in some other Western cultures, but if you slow down a little, I promise you’ll have an even better Paris experience. When you have a meal out, don’t be afraid to take an hour or two and really enjoy the food and the setting. Even a coffee in a café is a chance to embrace this idea, you can stay as long as you’d like, no one will be impatient or ask you to leave.
9. Act Like You’re Best Friends
In general, French people and especially Parisians are much more private than other cultures. When in Paris, it’s not common to ask someone you don’t know “how are you?” or “how’s your day?” If you’re too forward or start asking personal questions, this will probably confuse and piss off most Parisians. This doesn’t mean they are unkind or rude, just that they are more reserved and not used to speaking with strangers in a familiar way. With people you don’t know, stick to being polite, always use “vous” and don’t forget to say hello/goodbye.
10. Complaining about the Smoke, Litter, etc.
Just like any large city, Paris has many amazing upsides, but also has some drawbacks. Complaining about the cigarette smoke, litter in the streets, lack of public restrooms or any other fact of life will piss of a Parisian. They know these things, and experience them every day. They live here! As in any new city, your experience is what you make of it. These little issues are what help to make a city unique, so it’s important to appreciate Paris for what it is. Paris has a lot to offer and is a beautiful city, so try to forgive the little quirks and setbacks.
Now you know the top ten ways to piss off a Parisian, I hope these tips will help you! These ten tips will help to make sure your time in Paris is problem-free, and will make sure you don’t piss off any Parisians. I would really recommend that you try to follow this advice for an amazing time in Paris. With these tips, I know you will have the best possible experience in the City of Light! Hope to see you soon in Paris. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or would like more information about anything in Paris.