10 Ways to Look and Act Like a Local in FranceFrance — By Lost Girls on January 31, 2011 at 6:00 am
France is the single most visited country in the entire world. It tops the United States in the number of tourists it attracts each year by more than 20 million. Paris, the capital and most visited city in the world, is home to some of the greatest museums, cathedrals, and architectural structures we have ever known. The cuisine is not to be rivaled, and as anyone who has ever been to France will tell you, they have the best wine and cheese anywhere around the globe.
Throughout history, many people have fallen in love with this amazing country, and it’s not hard to see why. The French have a certain contagious joie de vivre. It permeates every facet of their lives, and is seemingly ingrained in their DNA. Many foreigners have even moved to France to see what it is like to live like a français, and with my top tips on how to live like a local in France, you’ll fit right in, in no time!
1. Allez, allez, to the grocery store every day
Do not go to the grocery store once a week and do one big shop. Here in the U.S., we tend to buy in bulk. This is never done in France. To act like a true French person, you must go to the store almost every day. Pick up the essentials you need for that day’s lunch and dinner, and go back the next day for the same purpose. Also, bring your own bags to the grocery store—French stores do not offer free plastic bags. If you get caught without your own grocery bags, you will either have to carry everything home in your arms, or have to buy your own bags, at one euro per bag.
Make time for your meals. Eating on the go is a big no-no and will solicit looks of disgust from many of the French. Try not to eat in a hurry. Sit down, enjoy, and savor every bite of your meal. Remember, French cuisine is a key element to the high quality of life in France!
3. No soda in the street
Do not walk in the street drinking soda from a can. As one woman scolded a friend of mine, On ne fait pas ça en France. We don’t do this in France. The French always look refined and elegant, and slurping soda from an aluminum can does not exactly equate with total refinement.
4. When to buy your baguettes
The best time to get a baguette is either very early in the morning, around 6 a.m., when the bakery has just opened, or around 4 to 5 p.m. in the afternoon. The afternoon baguette tip may come as a surprise, but this is when most boulangers bake for the dinnertime rush.
5. Easy does it
When drinking, try not to overdose on the alcohol. The French are social drinkers; they have one or two glasses of wine with dinner, but tend not to go overboard. You will stick out like a sore thumb if you slog back more than a few at dinner.
6. Discard your sweatpants
Many Americans seem to have a hard time with the lack of casual clothes sported around France. But wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts in public is simply not done. Not even for travel. The French always look impeccable, whether they’re running out to the butcher, or off to an evening gala.
7. Handy with a hello
When you walk into a room, or pass by someone to whom you have been introduced, always say bonjour. Entering a public space without giving a greeting is considered rude.
8. S’il vous plaît?
When someone is your age or older, always use the vous form of verbs when you don’t know them. Only when you have established a relationship with someone are you allowed to use the tu form of the verb. If the person is younger, it is okay to use the tu form right off the bat, it is not considered impolite.
Not something that you have to worry about. The French, and especially younger generations, are very much into public displays of affection. And, as it turns out, if you happen to stare at them, their “displays” become even more pronounced. So for all you public prudes, don’t worry about kissing your special someone in front of others. The incredibly sexual French population won’t have a problem.
10. Tacit train travel
Getting around France is easiest and fastest if you use the rail systems. The French love their trains, and often use the time to get work done, listen to music, or sleep. Just make sure you don’t talk too loudly on your cellphone within the train cars. Other passengers will start to give you nasty looks. Also, you must remember to validate your ticket in the little yellow box on the platform before every ride. If you play the clueless card, the conductor may let you go the first time, but afterward you will start to incur hefty fines.
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