Friday, May 13, 2011

Amy Plum’s "Top Ten Etiquette Tips for Paris"

Amy Plum is here today to share her Top Ten Etiquette Tips for Paris. Welcome Amy!

1.    Don’t go around smiling at people for no reason. They’ll think you’re retarded.

2.    Do say “Bonjour, Madame” or “Bonjour, Monsieur” to the store owner whenever you walk through the door of a shop, and say, “Merci. Au revoir,” when you leave.

3.    If you’re going to dress down, do it with style. Don’t wear sweat clothes and tennis shoes unless you are jogging.

4.    If you’re going to sit for a long time at a café table, order something to eat or drink once an hour. If not, you’re considered a table hog.

5.    If you’re meeting up with a French friend, give them one kiss on each cheek when you first see them. And then once again when you’re saying goodbye. If you’re at a party, you’re expected to do that to everyone in the room. (Meaning it can take FOREVER to leave.)

6.    Table manners: the “hands” rule is the opposite—they’re supposed to be on the table at all times, not on your lap. Never ask for a doggy bag. Don’t use your fingers except for bread, and if there isn’t a bread plate put the bread on the table. Don't spread a bunch of cheese or butter all over a piece of bread, just enough for one bite. Don’t ask for extra ice cubes or for something to be heated up: the French don’t like extremes since that distracts from the flavor—try it their might like it!

7.    If you want a salesperson in a shop to wait on you and they are ignoring you or giving you the hairy eyeball, use this magic formula. Say, “I am so sorry for bothering you. But I could really use your help. Could you please...” and then ask them for what you want. That puts them in a position of superiority. And people in shops—who have to wait on foreigners that often come across as rude or demanding—EAT THAT UP! And to be even more polite, learn just a few words in French so that you can start the conversation in their language. People will love it and try their English out on your right away. “Bonjour. Excusez-moi madame,” would be an excellent start!

8.    When getting on to the Metro, wait to the side of the doors (not right in front of them) and let people get off before you get on. Never put your feet up on the seats in front of you. Knowing what you might have been walking through, it’s only fair for the next person who sits there!

9.    If you’re in an outdoor market or small shop with fruits or vegetables or pastries, or whatever...AND a salesperson is standing right behind the objects (unlike at a supermarket)...don’t pick them up. Tell the person what you want, or point, and then they pick them up for you. Don’t ask me why. It’s just the way it’s done.

10. While you’re in France, try not to have the attitude “Our way is better”. Try instead for “Our way is different”. And then, even if you come across something you don’t like, try to find the charming side in it. You will have a much better experience if you do!

Thanks for sharing, Amy!


  1. This is extremely helpful information! I was just actually practicing some phrase en fracais for my trip to Paris, and I am so glad that you posted about this! I was starting to get freaked out by how much vocab I've forgotten from high school!

  2. GREAT advice but I always ask for a doggy bag. Call it the frugalista in me, but if I paid for it - it's coming with me ;)

    AWESOME fun post.

  3. These are fantastic tips!! I wish more countries would adopt some of these pieces of etiquette! :D

  4. thanks for tips. and I can not wit to read Die For Me

  5. I wish I would've had some of these before I went to Paris my first time. Especially the salesperson & fruit market ones--I definitely faux pas'd! Next time I'll know. Thanks, Amy!