Working in tourism is about understanding people and trying to reach their expectations since you are providing a service.
We professionals have certifications and reviews that comfort our clients in picking our service but we unfortunately never know who we are going to get…
French people might be rude, arrogant, stinky, smokers and all you want to blame us for but I have seen so much bad behaviors since I started working in this business that I feel like I should share those Dos and Don’ts with you:
- First of all, when coming to Paris, don’t call it France, because most of the country is made with regions that all have their specificities, histories, people, accents and Paris is just a big mess with almost nobody actually originally from Paris.
- Secondly, speaking French is not a big deal anymore since most people working in retail know how to speak English. So if you are hoping to have a conversation in French with any vendor you encounter and don’t understand what they say back, then don’t bother and switch back to English, but keep it slow please!
- In this same context of shopping in France, it’s usual to say “Bonjour” and “Au revoir”, or just “Hello” if possible looking into the eyes of the person working there, and maybe also smiling, but don’t you just walk in without considering that this shop has a human being working there for you. This might be one main reason why people hate tourists. 🙁
- Paris is a very expensive city, for food, clothes, rent and cultural life. The minimum wage is 1200€ per month, most people working in retail get this, and most people working in services do when rent is minimum 600€ per month for a one bedroom studio and shower and toilet in the same room to live in fancy neighborhoods of the city. There is a big housing crisis because of Airbnb rentals in Paris, so consider that when you book your accommodation. There are lots of pretty hotels around the city, not as close to monuments and fancy streets but still in Paris and close to a local boulangerie! Check out the 19th quarter, near the canal de la Villette or in the south, near Parc Montsouris if you want to be with locals.
- Restaurants have two services per day, Lunch and Dinner. When lunch is the most important meal of the day for us French, we like to spend at least one hour over our break, between 12 and 2pm. Traditional French restaurants will have special deals for you with selected dishes to chose and be sure the chef will be fast on making it. Kitchens close at 2pm so that the staff can also have a break, check their bills, relax, go to the doctor and then at 4pm they get back to work and start preparing the fancy dinner when French people like to treat themselves, go on a date or celebrate something with their friends. French food is about cooking the ingredients and get the best flavors out of them. If you don’t care about the taste of what you eat, or you feel hungry at weird times of the day, you can go to a chain shop like Mc Donalds or Burger King ! Also remember that French people eat snacks, but freshly baked from the boulangeries.
- Air conditioning is not a thing in France, people are more scared to get sick from the change of temperatures that to get too hot. We stay indoors, go to the movies or to the pool and the luckiest ones just go to the beach for the whole summer.
- Tipping is not compulsory but appreciable so stop asking yourself questions on how much to tip and just be a nice person, following most of those advice. If you are buying a 2000€ purse and leaving 2€ to your guide, that’s fine but you can be more chic with it and just pay for coffee…
- If you like going to the museums, like the Louvre or Orsay, get a pass or buy your tickets online and save yourself a lot of time. Also, museums are all closed on Tuesday, put it somewhere on your mind!
- Walking only: Paris is a city that was built before cars where even invented. Our roads are narrow and we have a lot of traffic lights. If you are not a big fan of wandering and getting lost in the most beautiful streets of the world, then get a good phone service and use City Mapper or Google to get around with a Navigo pass for public transports. If you get lost, ask someone in the street politely, hopefully it won’t be another tourist!
- Charity: Warning you about begging people and homeless situation in Paris. We have a lot of miserable people in big cities, all over the world but when there are tourists out there, it’s almost becoming a business. If you feel like you want to help, rather than giving away coins to those who are asking, even if they have baby rabbits in their basket, save this money and donate to a church like Saint Eustache or to La Croix Rouge organisation. They are the ones giving meals, water and blankets to those who are really in need. Be careful with your bags and phones and wallets, they can disappear very very quickly without you noticing…
To conclude, even if Paris is the most beautiful city in the world, your experience can really turn into a nightmare. Just be aware of those few things and try to trust yourself to make the most of your trip, from booking your hotel to organizing your time and activities. Check the weather forecast for when you arrive, take some vitamin C and get in touch with me if you want to make the best of your trip !