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Hints, Tips and Traps                    dos and donts

How to enjoy, a nice relationship with French people especially Parisians, a stress less stay in Paris, not paying for included services, and avoid lines and scammers.

 

Essential French

Do not assume that all French people speak English and that they do not answer because they don’t like you!! Would you expect every New Yorker, to speak French?

 

You have to master 2 words and you’ll be fine/ if you make the effort, French people, even Parisians with their bad reputation will try to help you as much as they can.

 

“Bonjour” bôZuːr, and “Merci” mèrsi

 

When you enter a shop, “bonjour” is essential. You don’t want to buy, or disturb? Nevertheless say “Bonjour”. If you want to ask a question may be try “ Désolé je ne parle pas Français” (dezɔle ʒə nə paʁlə pa fʁɑ̃sɛ)

 

"Tu" or "Vous" ?

Globally if you don’t know the person use “VOUS”. If you are not sure, use “VOUS” and wait for the French one to decide if he wants to use the “TU”

 

- For an older person use “VOUS”

- For “in-laws” depends on the style of relationship you share with them!

- For your boss, an administration, a doctor, a shop keeper use “VOUS”

- If you are speaking to a young child who is not a Prince, you may use “TU” but an adolescent may prefer “ VOUS” (he may want being considered with respect like an adult)

 

- If you are a young person, use “VOUS” for everyone unless you are speaking to someone your age or younger.

 

- If you are talking to friends and people you really know “TU” is fine. With my returning guests who became friends, we exchange in the “TU” mode when we speak French

 

 

French conversations

Unless you are with friends, avoid money and religion.

 

And usually French people will tell about main facts and not go into detailed story.

 

Don't be shocked when French people cut you off, overlap your conversation, don't let you finish. It is not supposed to be like this, but it happens all the time !

 

Privacy, Responsibility, Independence

as you know in the Anglo-Saxon culture, houses are shown on lawns or land as the French will surround themselves with fences, bushes.

 

Same inside the house: You need something? You don’t want to disturb your host? Anyway you should ask and do not open rooms, drawers, closets and wander on your own. A French will sense it as intrusion, snooping, and really rude.

 

 

Different sensibilities about responsibility: if you break something, I would not recommend buying a copy without asking your host. I’d recommend to say it, and ask how the owner would like to deal with it (replace, pay for it..) French like to stay in charge… They are not looking for solving ASAP)

 

Restaurants, cafés

Everywhere ALL is included, (taxes and tips) even if you are told the contrary!

 

Now if the service has been really nice, smiling, friendly, helpful of course you may leave some extra.

 

If you pay cash, you can round and, leave the change. If you pay by Credit Card leave 1 or 2 €

 

Of course if this is an expensive place, 1 or 2€ won’t be enough.

 

Some waiters will be friendly  only towards the end, when they are already looking for a tip. Don't encourage this. But most waiters and waitresses are nice if you use your "magic words" and smile.

 

Most restaurants have a fix, not so expensive menu  for lunch.

 

French put their  hands ON the table (who knows what can happen under a table ?), not on their lap and definitely not leaning on the side.  If they are well educated they will not  put their elbows.

 

Transportation

key2paris is really central. Chances are you’ll explore mostly on foot and use public transportation a little. So I would not recommend Navigo here, rather a metro/bus booklet. Now if you intend to do many day trips, maybe it is worth to buy a pass. Also important to check how far your ticket is valid. See easy page

 

Rent a bike if you feel comfortable with the traffic. Check page Easy and Practical

 

Taxi culture and tariffs

Be aware of scammers: only take a taxi from the official line. DO NOT accept any other offer even one just besides the official one. No security, “artistic”, expensive tariff.

 

Regular taxis:

They have to accept a credit card (it’s the law) but some are stubborn, they will not accept or propose to stop at an ATM machine. If you want absolutely to pay by card, better check before you get in.

 

Tariff Airport to Rive droite is 50€.

and from Rive Droite to Airport: G7 is reliable but will charge extra 7€ if you book ahead

 

Uber if you have an Internet connection: no card problem but they may charge more if heavy traffic

 

You step in, the meter is at 2€60

Minimum to pay is 7€

The first suitcase in the trunk is free,

You pay 1€ for each extra, over 5 kg, in the trunk.

 

3 Tariffs:

  • A: Weekdays, working days between 10 AM and 5 PM, inside Paris
  • B: Weekdays, working days between 5PM and 10 AM, inside Paris

Weekdays, working days between 10 AM and 5 PM, Paris outskirt. Means that if you go to Versailles, your driver will change Tariff from A to B as soon as he is out of Paris limits. Same for Airports.

  • C: Sundays and non working days from midnight to 7 AM in Paris

Outside of Paris from 5PM to 10 AM

 

 

Tipping a taxi: nothing obliged drivers do not expect anything anymore. If the driver has been really nice, you can round to the nearest whole figure, leave the change.

 

Museums and Tourist sites

To cut lines: buy a pass or tickets on line before.

You can buy a pass on line and pick it up at a shop afterwards. There is one on rue de L’Amiral de Coligny (rue du Louvre after crossing rue de Rivoli)

Be aware that a pass is valid for 3, 5 or more days in a row

Be aware that it does not cover all attractions.

 

 

Museums; most close on Monday (Orsay) or Tuesday (Louvre, Grand Palais etc..) Better check on lie before you go.

 

More and more propose late openings less crowded. Check on line

 

Organize your visit by areas: rather than wasting time on transportation going back and forth from one quartier to another one, check an area and explore everything you’d like to see there for 1 or 2 days (Museums, History, parks, food…)

 

Paris museums are free for their regular collections. Go to Free or cheap in Paris page

 

 

Security

  • do not put anything important in a back pocket
  • do not answer "surveys", request to pick up a ring, play games,
  • at ATM machines, do not accept for someone else to hold your card or type your code. Do not answer any question while dealing with the machine.
  •   If the scammer insists, shout “Police”