A Guest Post…
Who hasn´t heard that French people are very peculiar? In this sense, it´s usual to hear that the French are among the most arrogant nationality in Europe. However, I don´t think the French are as unpleasant as some make us believe and it´s all about understanding and getting to know them. France is a country rich in culture, food, art, language. From their crêpes to their wonderful architecture, the country of Baudelaire is full of surprises. These are some tips to remember whenever you experience La France. Bon Voyage!
Photo: Marta López
1. Never, ever forget to say “Bonjour”
It is more than likely that you‘ll have to stop someone on the street to ask for directions. If this happens, the very first thing you´ll need to say is: “Bonjour”. It seems like a silly little thing but sometimes, as tourists, we forget to say hello to locals and we say instead: “Excuse me, Do you know…?” Once you get the right directions, don´t forget to say “Bonne Journée” – something similar to “Have a nice day”. They will appreciate it! If you are a good observer, you’ll quickly notice that this phrase is written in most coffee shops in the metro stations.
2. Stop your life for lunch
In France, there are no excuses for not having a proper lunch, which means spending at least an hour and a half enjoying a delicious meal. Yes, the French love food probably as much as they love their families. If you have decided to travel to any part of France, forget the sandwich outside in a park (there is always time to explore the city gardens later) and try to find a nice brasserie with le plat du jour. And don’t forget the glass of wine!
3. Be careful with the “French kiss”
What comes to mind when you hear the word “French Kiss”? The truth is that French people don´t use this expression when referring to the action of kissing. So where does the term French kissing come from? According to the Associated Press, it comes from British and American soldiers when they returned home from Europe at the end of the war. Apparently at that time, the French were much more passionate when kissing their girlfriends, so the English-speaking soldiers decided to try the same thing and voilà French kissing was born. In terms of greeting people in France, where the real French kiss is mostly used, you´d better make sure you know in which part of France you are. The reason: In some parts of the country, people give three kisses (South East) and in others, they give four! In Paris, it’s two. Top tip: Watch the locals and do what they do! Of course, this is only a greeting once you know people well.
4. Learn some basic French
French people don´t speak fluent English so don´t expect them to understand you. At least be able to ask them in French if they speak your language and if you go to a restaurant make sure that you at least say merci to the waiter. Being able to say basic things in another language is seen as an effort among the locals. They will appreciate that you want to get closer to their culture.
Some basic French phases to survive in the city:
Bonjour! Ça va? (Good morning! How are you?)
Excusez-moi (Excuse me)
Parlez- vous anglais? (Do you speak English?)
S’il vous plaît (Please)
For a full list of French expressions, check out this blogspot.
Most people associate French culture with Paris, which is the centre of the fashion, art and architecture. But France exists beyond the City of Love. As with any other capital in Europe, Paris is made up of people from different regions across the country. According to Paris.fr, the number of different nationalities in Paris is higher than in the suburbs – so don’t assume that everyone in the city is a real Parisian. (In fact, people originally from Paris are rare). Even though the city is famous for being one of the most sophisticated destinations in the world, the truth is that its 20 arrondissements vary enormously. From trendy Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th or the chic Marais in the 3rd to the Chinese quartier in the 13th, Paris is a beautiful mixture of accents and worlds. Remember: If you have the chance to meet someone in Paris, make sure you always ask where he or she is from. How to ask in French? Vous êtes d´où?
Additional Information: For accommodation, check out hotels in Paris on Expedia. How to get there? Paris-Charles the Gaulle is the main airport located northeast of the centre of the French capital. The easiest way to reach the centre is using the RER “B” train line, which runs north-south through the centre of Paris.
Marta López is a travel writer based in London. She loves cinema (especially French films), and photography. Currently she is working on her first novel based in the City of Light.