LivingTravelHow to avoid acting like a tourist

How to avoid acting like a tourist

When you are in France, if you do what French does, you will probably have a much more enjoyable experience. A few French culture lessons will help you understand why things are a certain way in France and how to stand out less as a tourist.

Also, is it really that bad to enjoy a long lunch? Or sip your coffee at a delicious sidewalk cafe instead of rushing in with a cup to go? Don’t fight the French system, embrace the culture and you will look much less like a tourist.

Here are some ways to look like a local and not act like a tourist:

Enjoy your meals, don’t rush

What’s the rush? You are not on vacation? If you’re an American, it could be a culture shock to eat at a French restaurant. While it is possible to find signs of importers (to go) in restaurants, this really goes against the French style.

If your waiter isn’t rushing to bring you your check by the time you eat your last bite (he probably won’t because he doesn’t want you to feel rushed), don’t be surprised. Enjoy a little more conversation, sips of wine, and, if you’re in a coffee shop, people-watching.

You might decide he’s going too far to embrace the French love of offal, snails, frog legs, and more. But in case you’re thinking of going that route, take a look at the disgusting French dishes to avoid unless you’re French, and then decide.

Speak a little french

You don’t need to take a six-week intensive French course, but you’ll stand out much less as a tourist if you can at least express a few niceties, like “hello” and “do you speak English?” in French. It is not difficult and will create a very good impression from the beginning. And the French will probably realize that you are not fluent and will switch to English easily.

Don’t leave huge tips

While it may seem polite to leave a huge tip for great service, this is not very French. If you are in a restaurant, the tip is already included anyway. There is a sure way to stand out as a tourist in France, which is to leave another 15 to 20 percent on top of that. It is more common to leave change or some other small amount on top of the tip included.

If you are sitting having coffee in a bar or cafe, again you should leave a very small amount; maybe round it to the nearest euro.

Dress like the french

If you wear a sloppy Yankees jersey and tennis shoes, you will quickly stand out as a tourist. While the French are increasingly wearing clothing such as jeans and sneakers (particularly young Frenchmen), their casual dress is still more stylish than American casual attire. You will mix more with the French if you go with something casual but elegant.

Go with the French time

If you visit the attractions at lunchtime and the restaurants at 3pm, you may find both closed and look like a tourist. The French tend to eat meals at lunchtime, having a quiet meal between noon and 2pm. And you will find that many stores take long lunch hours. In the hot south and rural areas, you will find shops open from 7.30am to 1pm and then from 4 to 7pm, so make sure you don’t get caught. Some attractions may also close for lunch, but only the smaller attractions and in the villages.

You will have a much better experience if you know it before you go and plan your days properly. Also, don’t make ambitious shopping plans for Sunday, when the government requires nearly all stores to be closed.

Food stores can also catch you closing on Mondays. Again, a little pre-planning will help you and you can always request it at the Tourist Office (although these also close frequently for lunch!)

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