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It's a common misconception that all Parisians are rude and unwelcoming. More often than not, the case is simply that travelers have not taken the time to educate them selves on the common customs of the Parisian people. Take a moment to read about how to fit in with the locals when you next visit this romantic city.
The residents of Paris find manners essential, especially when it comes to their elders. Saying hello, good bye, please, and thank you, preferably spoken in French, is important in every interaction. This includes going in and out of shops, people’s homes, and even the elevator. It is also best to refer to all men and boys as Monsieur and women above 16 as Madam and young girls as Mademoiselle. Including these greetings will often get you a much warmer and friendlier greeting than otherwise. While dining in Paris, being polite to the wait staff is also a must, and it is customary to greet your servers at the beginning of every meal.
Since way back in the time of Joan of Arc, nationalism has played a major role in the Parisian psyche. The people of Paris are incredibly proud of their city, language, and culture and find it offensive when visitors do not respect it. In many ways it makes sense; the food, the art and the overall elegance of the city: wouldn’t you be proud too if you were from Paris?
One of the best ways to respect Parisian culture is to speak the French language as much as possible. Even if you don’t speak it at all, learning a few key phrases is important. It’s also good to keep an open mind.
Part of the purpose of outdoor cafes is people watching. What you are wearing, what you are reading, what you have with you. Don’t be alarmed if you find people looking at you. Parisians aren’t necessarily being rude and staring; it is simply part of the culture to notice and pay attention to these things.
It would be a shame to waste Paris’s world famous fashion and shopping scenes, and Parisians take full advantage. In fact, Parisians strongly value their appearance. They have often been taught to take great care in how they look and what they wear and to make sure they are clean and tidy. Even when its rainy, Parisians seem to avoid getting muddy or disheveled. One of Paris’s traveling tips is also to try to dress formally and blend in with the crowd. While this may seem a little daunting, it is a great excuse to go shopping.
Power to the People
Unlike in the United States, Britain, and other countries, the idea that the customer is always right is not the norm in Paris and can sometimes create tension. Trying to maintain good humor about it is your best bet. It is also good to remember that Paris has been at the epicenter of labor rights battles for hundreds of years and its residents and their ancestors have fought for their right to be respected as both a customer and a worker. This can also be seen in the sheer number of labor movements that have happened in Paris and the official integration of the 35-hour work week.