How to act like a local in France

photo by enigmatichus on Flickr

France is one of the most visited countries on the planet, and as those travelers who have homes in popular tourist destinations can testify, there is such a thing as too many tourists. That is not to say that the French hate the tourists who come to their country, but acting too much like a foreigner will definitely put an invisible wall between you and the locals. And even if no one raises an eyebrow at your blatant foreignness, why shouldn’t you try blending in with the local crowd? After all, the French are famous for their impeccable elegance, style and witty humor. Here are some tips on how to act like a local in France, for francophile travelers.

Eating slowly

The whole concept of fast food might as well be meaningless in France. Eating a croissant and hastily gulping down an espresso might happen when you’re really in a hurry, but if you sit down at a restaurant, prepare to invest at least a few hours in the operation. Don’t be impatient if your food doesn’t arrive 5 minutes after you ordered it, nor if your waiters take their time till refreshing your glass or bringing you the bill. French meals are made to be enjoyed slowly and accompanied by conversation and wine.

Leaving tips

Although in some countries it is required to leave a tip, in France it is not always customary, and by no means should you leave a huge tip even if your server was exceptionally friendly or attentive – this will instantly single you out as a tourist. In many restaurants tips are already included in the bill, but if you still want to leave something, leaving the change is enough.

Dressing like a local

French fashion is famous, and not only when it comes to the runway, as the French are usually elegant even if they have to run out to the convenience store. Sweatpants and sneakers are a no-no even if you spend your day on a train or a bus. Although the younger generation sports jeans and sneakers, they will be far more dressy than in other European countries.

Don’t overdo the wine

Although wine is drunk at most French meals (except for breakfast), few people drink more than one or two glasses. The purpose of French wine is not to get you tipsy (although it is perfectly adequate for that too), but to complement a delicious meal, or simply pamper your taste buds.

Don’t be loud

The French often complain that tourists tend to be very loud. Yelling on the street is considered to be very rude, and talking loudly when you are surrounded by people will surely garner a few annoyed looks from bystanders.


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