What NOT To Do In Paris

I love Paris.

I have always been a big believer that you need to learn and observe the customs of the countries and the cities that you visit. It takes so little effort on your part to learn the etiquette, the social rules, the social niceties. It will make your trip and your interactions with the locals so much more enjoyable, and it adds an extra layer of texture to the entire experience.

 

What NOT To Do In Paris

I found this fantastic article on SmarterTravel.com. If you are traveling to Paris, or thinking about traveling to Paris, you need to read it.

What Not to Do in Paris

by Christine Sarkis for SmarterTravel.com

Feeling like you’re being judged by locals every time you visit Paris? You’re probably right. But know this: Every time a Parisian shoots you a dirty look for talking too loudly or wearing shorts to dinner, they are doing you—and everyone else who loves Paris—a favor. Of the three most-visited cities on Earth, Paris is by far the smallest in size, making it possibly the most tourist-dense city of them all. With visitors often outnumbering residents, it makes sense that Parisians fiercely defend the etiquette and language that defines the very culture so many travel so far to see. So why not play along?

From your choice of clothes to how to enter a shop, here are 10 tips to help you move through the city with grace and confidence. So next time you’re in Paris, don’t make any of the following mistakes.

To delve into some of the most common mistakes of North American travelers to Paris, I spoke with Penny Bernier, a born-and-raised San Franciscan who has spent nearly four decades living in Paris; Marika Prince, a longtime American expat in Paris; and the gang at Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency.

Dress Down

to do in paris

We all like to be comfortable, but Paris has a magic that is simply incompatible with flip-flops, shorts, yoga pants, high-performance sneakers, and university sweatshirts. Some restaurants even have dress codes that forbid sandals and shorts. And just as you wouldn’t bring high heels camping, you probably shouldn’t bring sportswear and leisure apparel to Paris. Instead, embrace casual chic so the city can embrace you.

Ignore Shopkeepers As You Enter and Exit

to do in paris

Visitors who want an easy way to practice basic French need look no further than the shop on the corner. In small shops and cafes, it’s de rigueur to meet the shopkeeper’s eyes and say, “Bonjour madame/monsieur,” as you enter and say, “Merci, au revoir,” as you leave. In a city as cosmopolitan as Paris, it’s a pleasingly small-town habit and one that can make you feel a little more at home.

Put Your Hands Under the Table

to do in paris

What do France and the Old West have in common? Both want you to keep your hands where they can see ’em. Unlike the Old West, though, in France, this isn’t an invitation for your elbows—to keep with the local custom, rest your hands or your wrists on the edge of the table. You may even find that once you get used to keeping your hands in plain view, it can feel strange and a bit naughty to hide them from your fellow diners. What are they doing under there, anyway?

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Start Conversations in English

to do in paris

Here’s a handy trick I’ve had success with hundreds of times: If you want someone to speak English with you in Paris, start by speaking French to them. Right away, you’ll get credit for not assuming everyone around you speaks English. And, because Parisians are particularly sensitive to the mangling of their mother tongue, chances are extremely high that your accent and grammar will drive whomever you’re speaking with to switch to English. And sure, if you’re actually trying to improve your spoken French, being dragged back into English can be discouraging. But if you’re simply looking for directions you can understand, you’re more than likely to get what you need with this approach.

Put Bread on Your Plate

to do in paris

Take a look at the table at your typical Parisian bistro and you’ll likely notice the bread plate is missing. Surprise! In most restaurants, you’re expected to put your bread on the table (except in the more upscale ones, which include a bread plate in the place setting). For many Americans, this can feel both messy and strangely informal. Even more casual is the custom of eschewing the knife in favor of breaking bread apart with your hands and placing individual pieces in your mouth. Embrace this practice by marveling at how often the Parisian way is an intricate dance between the sophisticated and the rustic.

Touch the Produce

to do in paris

This one is specific to the many outdoor farmers’ markets in Paris, where beautiful ripe fruits and vegetables are piled high, beckoning the senses. While you’re free to feast your eyes and inhale the glorious scents, you should resist the urge to touch anything. When you’re ready to buy, the seller will select for you, which can be difficult if you’re used to feeling each item yourself. But trust the seller; most of the time, they want you to be as happy with your selection as you do.

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Ask for a to-Go Bag

to do in paris

In life, there are some things you just have to let go of. And leftovers in Paris are foremost among them. Request a doggie bag at a restaurant and the looks you’ll receive will range from incredulity to incomprehension—or, if you’re especially lucky, thinly veiled disgust. If you really haven’t had enough of a particular dish, just make plans to revisit the restaurant. Besides, with so much good food to try, you’re better off freeing yourself up to experience each meal anew.

Make Rookie Menu Mistakes

to do in paris

French food is only as great as your ordering skills, so it pays to brush up on your food vocabulary and knowledge of local specialties before you go. Because you don’t want to be the person who requests their steak tartare cooked (the point of the dish is that it is served raw) or orders escalopeexpecting scallops (though the thinly sliced, sauteed meat you’ll receive will still be lovely, no doubt). And, if you’re trying to blend in, don’t ask for butter with your bread (though there are a few exceptions to this rule that David Lebovitz explains well) or order soda with your meal (better to stick with water or wine).

Wait for the Check

to do in paris

At restaurants in the U.S., servers generally appear, unprompted, at the close of the meal with the check and the phrase, “Whenever you’re ready.” This leaves it up to the whim and discretion of the diners to decide when to wrap up. In Paris (and in France generally), the exact opposite is the norm. You won’t ever see a check until you ask for it, but once you set the wheels in motion, you should be ready to pay and vacate the table without additional lingering.

What’s the #1 hotel in Paris? Read reviews & find hotel deals on TripAdvisor!

Hug

to do in paris

Though many Americans think of hugging as less intimate than kissing, when you break it down into its composite parts, a full body press with entwining arms is pretty personal, especially compared to a quick double-cheek peck. As such, hugging is out when you greet Parisians (unless they’ve spent a lot of time in the U.S.). Instead, opt for a handshake if you want to maintain your personal space, or if the situation feels right, greet like a local and faire la bise. These kisses are really more of a quick press of cheeks (one for each cheek) with an accompanying air kiss.


10 Reasons You Should Travel Alone At Least Once In Your Life

I have been traveling the world all of my adult life. Until 2010 I had always traveled alone.

 

Paris Eiffel Tower Champs des Mars

Initially I would fly from New Zealand to Australia for mini breaks. Then I moved to London to go to makeup school, only knowing one person there. For some reason that didn’t scare me, even though I was only 20 at the time.

6 months later I went for my first spin around Europe. I took a six week Contiki Tour with a bus full of 18-35 year olds, not knowing a soul. It was one of the greatest, most fun, most formative experiences of my life, and I am still in contact with several of the people I met on that trip. Had I gone with a friend I wouldn’t have been forced to get out there and meet people, so being by myself was lonely for a couple of days, but then it became completely brilliant.

With the exception of the trips I took home to New Zealand and to Australia with my young son, every international trip I took up until 2010 was a solo mission. I didn’t even think about traveling with anyone else! Then in 2010 my bestie and I decided to go to Italy together. Since then I have mostly traveled with friends or tour guiding my Glam Italia Tours, but I try to block off days by myself at the end of my tours, and I still take trips alone too.

There is a magic that happens when you travel alone. You get to see the very best of yourself. You get to enjoy your own company.

I always love seeing or meeting solo travelers when I’m out there in the world. I chose this Eiffel Tower picture for this post because it was taken by a girl I met sitting in a cafe on the left bank in Paris. She was in the city of light for the first time and was all by herself, so I invited her to hang with us and come to see the Eiffel Tower. It was fun for her and she was able to see an entirely different side of the Eiffel. It was fun for us because she was just delightful to be around. Everybody wins!

Here are 10 reasons why you should travel alone at least once in your life. I hope you will read them and that they will inspire you to give solo travel a try.

10 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once In Your Life

 

Traveling Solo Will (Literally) Push You Out Of Your Comfort Zone

One thing I have learned in life is that the very best things, the most exciting, the most memorable, the most fun, all happen when you get outside your comfort zone.
Traveling alone pushes you out there. It forces you to take chances you normally wouldn’t take. It makes you see the world and its many wonderful peoples from a different perspective.
When you step (or leap) out of your comfort zone you really start to experience life. You don’t just watch things happen, you become a part of the experience, and the tapestry of your life becomes richer, more vibrant and more textured.

When You Travel Alone You Will Meet The Most Amazing People

You really will. And you will form friendships that will last your entire life.
When we travel with a friend or a group of others we do still meet new people, but the interactions are different and maybe not as fulfilling, because we have the group or the friend to lean on and go back to.
When you travel alone you need the social interaction, so you gravitate towards others, whether to help you find your way, or whether to just have someone to chat with over coffee in the piazza.
People generally are pretty fantastic. And most people really are very nice. Everyone has an interesting story to tell. Maybe you will become someone’s interesting story ~ the traveler they met in the piazza who is now their friend from country X. Regardless, if you open yourself up to the opportunity there are really amazing people to be found when you’re wandering the world.

There is a restaurant in Rome that I go to every time I’m in town. It is always totally packed with a line waiting outside, so they can’t give me a table to myself, instead they always find me a seat at someone else’s table. It’s so much fun! Everyone is always so welcoming and friendly and I end up having a blast while meeting new people, who always tell me cool places to go see in the Eternal City, and introduce me to fantastic new experiences I would have otherwise never known about.

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It Takes Courage, You Face Your Fears, And You Experience Triumph.

You have to face your fears and your insecurities when you travel alone. Many people have never really been alone in their life, so the idea of being out there in the world with no one can be super daunting. Others have experienced being alone before, but the first time or two that you travel alone can still be scary.
The second part of the equation is that it takes courage to do it. Sometimes a courage you didn’t know you possess. But when you’ve muscled up the courage to take on your fears you then experience triumph. And nothing builds you as a person quite like accomplishments that are your own. Traveling solo can make you feel incredibly triumphant.
(The first time I drove from Florence to San Gimignano alone, without my bestie was incredibly scary. Of course I got lost several times, and she was on a plane back to the USA so I couldn’t even call her for help. But when I eventually got there, and in one piece no less, I finally understood why they erect triumphal arches, and seriously considered building one for myself).

 You Find Freedom

When you travel alone you truly experience freedom. You are free from all that keeps you tethered. You can do what you want, when you want, how you want. Your plans can change on a whim. You’ll meet other travelers who will tell you about cool places to go and things to do, and you’ll either wind up going places with them, or venturing off solo. You aren’t beholden to anyone. For many of us it’s the only time in life we are completely free, and its incredibly exhilarating.

Sometimes it is just having the freedom to decide you want to curl up on the couch in your rental apartment with a glass of wine and a good book. Whatever it is that you decide to do, when you travel alone the choice is 100% yours.

You Get To Do 100% What You Want To Do

When you travel with someone else, or with a group, you have to give up a portion of what you want to do. There are things you are dying to do, places you want to eat, experiences you want to have, that you have to give up because the others don’t want to do them. Or there’s not enough time to do everyone’s everything.
Traveling with others means you have to compromise, and that can be a very hard pill to swallow when its a once in a lifetime trip, or somewhere you are not likely to go back to.

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You Get To Be Selfish And Totally Indulge Yourself.

It feels really good to be able to completely indulge yourself and be selfish. Its wonderful to sleep in when you feel like it, get up at the crack of dawn if you want to,  stop for as many coffees as you want, or stop for none. Just find every single thing that makes you happy, and take full advantage of it.
Life at home can be super stressful, whether that be from work/school/family – you name it, and most of us don’t really get much opportunity to totally and unapologetically spoil ourselves rotten, so having that chance and embracing it unashamedly can recharge your batteries like nothing else.

Your Experiences become More Meaningful

When you travel with someone else your experiences are shared experiences and can be very much diminished if the person you are with isn’t 100% as invested in them as you are. When you are alone otherwise simple things can suddenly become quite profound, and move you in ways you never thought possible. I have had paintings move me to tears (frescoes in Santa Croce, the Caravaggios in Rome), have lain on the floor of the ballroom in an empty palace, looking up at the ceiling art, completely overwhelmed (Caserta) have been completely exhilarated white water rafting without even thinking about my comparative lack of skill (Austria). I could list loads more but the point is that with just one more person in the equation the experience would be diluted and probably nowhere near as meaningful. Being on your own allows you to let go of inhibition and get the maximum out of every new experience.


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You Realize That You Absolutely Can Rely On Yourself

When there is no one else to lean on, no one else to take care of the details, you have to rely on yourself to figure things out. It can be quite daunting at first, but then you see that you can do it. You become the person that you truly can rely on. It gives you a whole new faith in yourself, which is super empowering.

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You Can Completely Re-Invent Yourself

When you travel alone you get to be exactly who you want to be.
For starters you can leave the tired/grumpy/exasperated/moody/sickly/over worked/stressed out/extroverted/introverted/people pleaser/whatever your poison is/ behind, and become the person you always wanted to be. Or never thought about being – however it plays out.
Explore parts of your personality you haven’t seen before, or haven’t seen in a while. When you travel solo there is no one to call you on it, so you have the freedom to be anything.
Some of the wildest people I ever met while traveling have turned out to be the church mouse type when we reconnect in their home country. Friends who live their normal life with military precision have lived out a free spirited bohemian existence while traveling alone.
If you could be absolutely anything, what would you be?

There Is No Drama

I don’t think boys get embroiled in drama when they travel, but girls frequently do. Not so much fighting as going on and on about medical woes, relationship woes, perceived injustices, rehashing past traumas. Who needs to hear all that when you are on a dream trip somewhere out there in the world, that you have had to save and save for? Or someone gets their nose out of joint for heaven only knows what reason, and now they’re not speaking to another person, or creating a heavy atmosphere – its exhausting! But when you travel alone your entire trip is drama free.

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A quick word about Contiki Tours.

I took a Contiki Tour for my first trip around Europe. I was young and not really equipped to do it alone. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I traveled through a bunch of European countries on a luxury bus with like minded 18 – 35 year olds who were just as excited as I was to see everything. I can’t even tell you how much fun I had! Decades later I am still friends with several of the people from my tour, and we stay in contact via Facebook and also via this blog!

I thought Contiki just did Europe but recently found out they go all over the world! My niece just came over from New Zealand and did a Contiki Tour of California, Arizona and Nevada. Her experience was similar to mine – she was so nervous on the first day, but went on to have the most incredible experience, got to do so many cool things, and not only had the most fun of her life, but also emerged from the tour with a whole new level of self confidence and a wonderful sense of adventure.

I hope that if you, or your child/friend/relative are in the 18 to 35 age group and want to travel and see the world but don’t want to go it alone, you will have a look at Contiki as an option. Traveling alone doesn’t need to mean traveling by yourself. Both my niece and I were traveling alone on our respective Contiki Tours but we weren’t out there in the world by ourselves. This was the stepping stone that opened up the entire world to me and I am so incredibly grateful that I had that opportunity and that truly amazing experience.


Searching For Victor Noir ~ Just The Right Amount Of Wrong. NSFW

Oh Paris!

File this one under ” Things To Do In Paris…”

Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is both world famous and fascinating.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

It is the final resting place of many interesting characters from Proust to Chopin. It covers a huge expanse of park like surroundings with tombs and graves enveloped in winding avenues and chemins, sheltered by giant, no doubt centuries old trees.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

It’s a little rundown, but charmingly so. The perfect location for a vampire movie, Pere Lachaise has just the right amount of wrong – there’s something a little decadent about this place.

When you arrive at Pere Lachaise it’s easy to find the grave of perhaps it’s recently most famous guest, rockstar Jim Morrison, because there are always fans making a pilgrimage to see him. His much visited grave is fenced in and always has fresh flowers. But it is probably the least interesting grave in the cemetery.

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Jim Morrison's Grave, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

Jim Morrison’s grave at Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

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Jim Morrison's Grave, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

The fence around Jim Morrison’s grave at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

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One that is far less known, but still gets good traffic, is that of Victor Noir. Victor himself was an interesting fellow, having died during a duel with Prince Pierre Bonaparte, great-nephew of Napoleon.

Victor Noir Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

There he lies, Victor Noir

There was a public outcry, and more than 100,000 people joined the funeral procession to his initial grave in Neuilly. In 1891 his grave was moved to Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Visiting Paris? Find the Best Deals & Reviews at TripAdvisor.

 

Victor Noir Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

Inscription on the grave of Victor Noir in Paris.

 

Victor Noir’s likeness is sculpted on the grave itself. He of the fancy clothes, heeled footwear, cherubic curls did not come to cemeterial fame due to his handsome face though, his grave is famous and well visited because of the giant appendage in his pants.

Victor Noir Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

The man with the golden gun, Victor Noir.

Apparently our Victor Noir was well hung, and this detail was recorded for posterity in his sculpture. Jules Dalou sculpted our Victor to make it look like he had just fallen dead in the street. With a huge bulge in his pants.

Victor Noir Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

Said bulge has been rubbed so often by admirers that it almost glows. The rest of our resting Mr Noir is green, but his unit and his mouth glow bright bronze.

 

Victor Noir Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

 

It is customary to rub the groin of Mr Black, and countless women have in fact climbed on top of him and kissed him too, as evidenced by his glowing, bronze mouth. But don’t just take my word for it:

The sculpture has a very noticeable protuberance in Noir’s trousers. This has made it one of the most popular memorials for women to visit in the famous cemetery. Myth says that placing a flower in the upturned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing its genital area will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life, or, in some versions, a husband within the year. As a result of the legend, those particular components of the otherwise verdigris (grey-green oxidized bronze) statue are rather well-worn and shiny. #Wikipedia

Victor Noir Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

Victor Noir’s tophat

If you are in Paris a trip to Pere Lachaise cemetery is well worth your while. Should you want to visit Jim Morrison, he is in plot number 30 off of Chemin Maison. Victor Noir is at the opposite end of the cemetery, the soles of his feet squaring to Avenue Transversale 2 

 dita von teese victor noir

Dita Von Teese and Victor Noir


 

 

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