Paris by bike

Top 5 things to say to survive Paris

Paris- the city of lights, romance and fashion, but why are there so many who swear not to ever come back?

Millions visit the French capital every year, and many of them leave disappointed, upset and even burdened by a condition called Paris syndrome. As any other major capital, Paris has its ups and downs and can definitely be somewhat intimidating. I, for instance, can never forget the chilling fear I had when I first landed in Paris many years ago. Going to the supermarket felt like going to war, thanks to all of the pre-conditioning we get before arriving here. 

Today, I would like to stop this trend and offer you top 5 tips that genuinely helped me avoid all the clichés and negative experiences my friends and thousands of other travellers have had in arguably the best city in the world. 

1. Bonjour and bonsoir

This is France, people speak French here, so do everyone a favour and learn the basics. Why? Because being polite is extremely important in France and greeting others properly and at the right moment is exactly what gets you started on the right foot with others. Before you do anything, make sure to say “bonjour” or “bonsoir”, but remember to use the latter only after 18h (6PM). There is a whole culture around greetings, but here are some simple rules to remember: 

Bonjour – the safest word to use, even if it’s past 6PM. 

Bonsoir – “good evening” and should be used only past 6PM. 

Salut – normally used amongst friends. 

Another tip would be to always say bonjour when walking into a store, boutique, bakery, bar etc. Obviously, do not just scream, “Bonjour” the moment you walk through the door, but do greet the first person you see who works there. 

2. Never forget the “S’il vous plaît”. 

This one is easy, it means “please” and you should always use it. No exceptions. If you want something and would like to ask for something, you always say it. Always! D’accord? 

*Additionally, it’s worth noting that some people use “s’il te plaît” because it is a less formal version used between friends and those who know each other well. It’s better to use “s’il vous plaît” with strangers. 

3. Merci

Another simple, yet extremely important word to remember and use. “Merci” stands for “thank you” in French. Use it all the time just as you would say “thank you” in English. 

4. Une carafe d’eau

This one is a bit specific, but you will thank me for this later after you’ve saved quite a bit of money. There are two types of still water you can order at a cafe or a restaurant: bottled (usually the expensive kind) and from the tap. “Une carafe d’eau” is “a jug of water” in English. The water in Paris is perfectly safe to drink from a tap and it is served free of charge at most of the restaurants and cafes. You are welcome! 

5. Au revoir

Yet another easy one, “au revoir” is the French for “goodbye”. The literal translation of the phrase is “till seeing again”, however, people use it as “goodbye”  

If you follow these easy steps and use these words, you will automatically improve your experience in Paris. Remember, the French appreciate politeness and respect. Therefore, if you put in a little bit of effort, the locals will be more likely to help you. Paris is truly a magical place and it deserves to be experienced and explored properly. So just enjoy it! 

by Anton Rodionov