Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Beginner's Guide

France is very close to the UK, and, as such I don't think a lot of people really expect a huge culture difference. Well, I'm just going to cover a few things that I think people should be aware of before they step off the Eurostar into the fantastic city of Paris.

1. Parisians are rude. This is only because we are SO used to the super polite people of the UK. I know it's not the same for everyone but I know manners were hammered into me from a young age and as such I do apologise when someone bumps into me. It's just nice!

But in belle Paris do not expect any man to give up his seat on the metro, do not expect anyone to offer to help you with a bag. No one will hold a door open for you and if they do, either recognise that this is a rarity and be thankful, recognise that this person is probably a tourist...or beware some flirtatious activity. Which leads me to number two...

2. Ladies - French men, I have found, can be very direct. Many a time I have been asked by strangers to go for a coffee or if they can join me when I'm found reading a book. You will attract attention if you wear revealing'll attract attention if you wear casual clothes as well so just be aware of that fact. Don't let it bother you, they think they're being flattering, and to be honest, I've found it a lovely little ego boost!

Creating a stir on the metro
3. The metro. This is not the tube. There a few things you need to be aware of. It's the easiest way to get around - that's for sure, but if you're planning a metro journey, try to keep the fewest number of changes possible - the walks between metro lines are epic. Also, the metro is very old at this point, and whilst you may find yourself on the shiny new trains, you will undoubtedly find yourself more often in run down stations and on run down trains. Just get over it - it'll get you to where you need to go. Also, most of the time the doors don't open automatically as they do in London - look for the button or handle, or let someone go ahead (Lord knows they won't queue politely behind you anyway). Beware of shoving. The metro gets crowded and these people want on. They have no sense of personal space. Like I said before, get over it and hold your bag close. Also - it's likely that you'll come across a beggar or performer on the train. These are often quite funny, barely annoying, and either way they're harmless. It's a good idea to download a metro map onto your phone before you leave!

4. Pickpockets are still an issue in Paris and I'm sad to say I've been with people since I got here who have had things stolen or nearly had things stolen. Don't leave phones on the tables (this is quite rude in France anyway) as they may get lifted by people pretending to beg. On another table nuisance, if rose sellers come by, shake your head, say 'non, merci' and carry on your conversation. Fastest way to get rid of them.

5. Crossing a road. Obviously beware that the cars come from the other direction here but also please note that they do not have the same regard for pedestrians as they do back home. If you're at a zebra crossing and the green man says you can walk - just be careful, because the cars don't always care.

And now some basics:

Parlez-vous anglais? parlay voo on glay? Do you speak English?
Je ne comprends pas. je ne com pron pah. I don't understand.
Ou sont les toilettes? oo sonn lay twa lett? Where are the toilets? (you can add a s'il vous plait)
Ou est le metro/la musée/rue...  oo ey le metro/la mews ey/roo Where is the metro station/the museum/road (add street name).

And most importantly!

Je voudrais une baguette!

No comments:

Post a Comment