Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist?

Posted by: ilikemozart

Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 05/25/07 07:02 PM

Can you recommend bags for carrying stuff in while touring? If a backpack, which kind?
Posted by: piqué

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 05/25/07 07:53 PM

why not arrive with nothing but the clothes you are wearing and quickly buy clothes and bag in paris. then you'll be sure to look like a local. \:\)
Posted by: whippen boy

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 05/26/07 07:06 PM

Good advice.

I recommend dressing like the locals - probably something very simple but elegant - not too casual (no t-shirts with big logos, etc.).

I never wear shorts! When I was there last, 3/4 length pants were all the rage for both men and women - especially in white. I got a pair of these in Germany, as that fashion was popular there too.

If you think you won't be able to tolerate the heat without shorts, get one of those cooling bandanas. You soak it in water; crystals inside absorb the water so when you tie it around your neck, it cools you down. It works! Europe seems to be getting hotter and hotter. \:\(

A simple tote bag is preferable to a bulky backpack - just hang on to it when in public. I advise against carrying a camera in plain view.

A few other pointers - don't raise your voice. I notice Americans tend to talk to each other very boisterously when abroad (I serve as a tour guide to many of them \:D ). This is a dead giveaway that you are a tourist, and something that locals might find unattractive. Chewing gum is another thing to skip.

Do try to learn a few basic phrases of French, and ALWAYS[/b] say bonjour to a shopkeeper when entering their establishment. It is also polite to say merci when leaving the shop. Don't be afraid to shake someone's hand when you meet them.

I could go on but this is a good start.

Even if you do all these things, the French will probably still see you as a tourist - but they will almost certainly appreciate your efforts. ;\) Just keep in mind that there are thousands of tourists in Paris at any given moment - you will be one of many.

Oh one more important thing for travelling abroad: pack light! You can probably halve the amount of stuff you think you need, and then halve it again. You'll be glad you did.
Posted by: PerformingYak

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 05/28/07 10:33 PM

 Quote:
If you think you won't be able to tolerate the heat without shorts,
that all depends on when you are going and after all I notice you are from California... which can't be that cold ... can it?

totally agree with most of the rest of the stuff Whippen Boy said.

Oh and when you go past those guys that try to sell you cheap trinkets from jingly keyrings, don't stop, look past them and keep going, otherwise they tend to multiply. It is also apparently illegal to buy the art and stuff sold by individuals on the street (or it was when I was there) but they'll let you off if you are a foreigner.

Making an attempt to speak a little French is a sure way to get on the Parisians good side, they apparently aren't as rude as they were several years ago if you make the effort.

As for luggage, something practical and hard wearing.. whatever suits the user but try not to pack more than you need... after all there should always be room for souvenirs
Posted by: whippen boy

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/01/07 06:53 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by PerformingYak:
I notice you are from California... which can't be that cold ... can it?
Oh yes. \:D

Average 24-hr (day+night) temperatures here in San Francisco during the summer:
Jun: 58.6°F (14.8°C)
Jul: 59°F (15°C)
Aug: 59.5°F (15.3°C)

The Pacific Ocean is around 45°F (7°C) here throughout the year. Swimming is only possible on the hottest days, or with a wetsuit!

A perpetual source of summertime amusement for the locals: tourists in shorts, teeth rattling. \:D

Actually, summers here are a refreshing alternative to sweltering summer vacations elsewhere. We also have mild snowless winters, which is a plus.
Posted by: DinoCow

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/01/07 07:15 PM

Buying clothes in Europe might be a bit expensive, no? Taking into account the poor USD to EUR conversion rate. I've checked out clothing stores in Paris and found them to be somewhat more expensive than it is in NY.

And truthfully, you can't avoid looking like a tourist. You're American. Just try not to carry around the stereotypical tourist gear:
a bright fanny pack
those half visor that only old-time poker dealers should be wearing
a huge outdated camera hanging around your neck
knee-high socks when wearing too-short shorts

... and the likes.

Oh, but do look out for pickpockets, as there are plenty in Paris, especially on the Metro. The young children are the ones you should really keep an eye on. Their small hands will take your entire pocket's content without causing any slight bit of movement.

Other than that, just be there and enjoy your trip! And... try to avoid eating things like blood sausages from shady restaurants on a hot sweltering day.

Bon voyage!
Posted by: PerformingYak

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/03/07 08:44 PM

Wasn't that cold when I was last in san Fran... wow ... but that WAS a few years back (try like, 10)

Guess you'd hate it where I live then... we've only just dipped below 30°C in the last fortnight... winter is here at a maximum of 18°C each day..... but it only lasts 2 weeks followed by a few months of 25 - 30°C and back up to 50 for summer!!!!
Posted by: vogel54

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/04/07 08:02 AM

What a great opportunity! Paris is a wonderfu city and the Parisians are wonderful people! As an "American in Paris" what you carry or wear will not be the give away. Your look will say you are an American. How you behave will also say "American" especially if you are impatient or loud, or expect certain things which you might find typically here in the states. Firstly, be humble and appreciate their culture. You are a guest in their country. Always great someone with a phrase or two in French and show that you will try to communicate in their language. Don't assume that everyone speaks English though many of them do. To get the most of a foreign country stay away from touristy areas. Yes, see the hot spots but visit those out of the way places where the "people" live. Certainly, be aware of your surroundings! Walking through quiet streets filled with tiny cafes are great places to feel the culture of the city. Be sure to visit outside the city limits, the country side around Paris via train, what a treat! Versailles is a wonderful place and easy to get to by train. Also, Giverny, Chantilly or Chartres!Be sure to visit Ille de la Cite, the city's earliest beginning. The Cathedrale Notre-Dame, The Left Bank...Several bridges link the two islands to the rive gauche and rive droite. Cross teh Pont de la Tournelle on the Ile St Louis, the view onto the left bank is wonderful. Go to the Latin Quarter, the heart of the rive gauche. Paris is a great city and I have visited there many times. The people were wonderful and very helpful. If you visit as an "American" you will be treated like one. Though I love my country and proud to be American...when visiting a country outside the US, you must respect their culture and appreciate their efforts. You will hopefully return to the US with a different perspective! How truly blessed we are to have what we have, but also how we should appreciate the things we take for granted. Have a GREAT trip and be careful.


Au revoir!
Nick

PS ...Before you go, get yourself a good guide book. A good on is "Insight Guide France" Explore Your World Discovery Channel. Found at any bookstore!
Posted by: whippen boy

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/04/07 08:28 AM

Great points Nick, but one caution:

 Quote:
Originally posted by vogel54:
Be sure to visit outside the city limits, the country side around Paris via train, what a treat!
The exception to this would be the immediate suburbs (banlieues) surrounding Paris; some of these areas can be a bit dicey and are not recommended for the casual tourist.
Posted by: vogel54

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/04/07 08:05 PM

I agree that's why I suggested a Guide book. Places like Versailles are safe and I wouldn't suggest just hopping on a train unless you know where you want to go.

Best Regards,
Nick
Posted by: mahlzeit

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/05/07 04:12 AM

Hey you could even hop on the Thalys train and be in Amsterdam in 4 hours, and even stop by Brussels while you're at it. \:\)
Posted by: whippen boy

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/05/07 08:36 PM

Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels. My three 'homes away from home'. \:\)

How lucky you are, mahlzeit.
Posted by: pianoid

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/05/07 09:23 PM

If you wear jeans, eat McDonalds hamburgers and drink Coke, you'll look just like any other Globalization Joe... right at home anywhere, 24 hours a day... :p

and this is called sarcasm, ladies and gentleman, though it's sadly true...
Posted by: pianoid

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/05/07 09:25 PM

and don't forget your iPOD! :p
Posted by: catluver

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/16/07 11:02 PM

with so much to do in paris i wouldn't even worry about Versailles unless you really have a long stay there. to answer the initial question, i think it really depends on why you don't want to look like a tourist. if it is to blend in with the locals then you will not only have to not look like a tourist but also not do touristy things (which is probably why you are there in the first place) however if it is just so that you don't get pick-pocketed/etc then i would just be sure to have small locks on your bag and be smart about things, i was in paris for a few days last summer and never had a problem. have funnnn!
Posted by: ChatNoir

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 06/26/07 10:27 PM

Just leave the baseball-cap behind, and you'll fit right in. And did you know that Paris is a marvellous city to ride a bike in?
Buy a week's pass at the Metro, much cheaper than shelling out for every trip, and get around without problems. Visit the wonderful Bagatelle in Bois de Bologne, it is the most beautiful rose garden I have ever seen. Instead of eating expensive meals in expensive restaurants, buy what you like from charcuteries and boulangeries, go to Bois de Vincennes or any other park and eat al fresco. Outside Chateau de Vincennes you may see the spot where Mata Hari was executed one early morning......
Visit the marvellous flea market in Saint Ouen (metro Clignancourt). And go to the Louvres des Antiquaires in Rue Rivoli, aggravate yourself and see what you can't have.
However, whatever you chose to do or see, you will have a ball. Paris is just fantastic.
Posted by: PianoTeacherKim

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 07/04/07 01:59 PM

Hey there,

You've had great suggestions. I studied in France in college, and I have to say even when dressed in French clothes, shoes, and all, they still knew I was an American. We hold ourselves differently, walk differently.

But learning basic French, even a few phrases, DOES go a long way. So does being exceptionally polite. Don't wear shorts. Don't wear white socks and tennis shoes.

You'll find really, truly friendly Parisians and you will meet some really rude ones. Just the way it is everywhere when you travel!

Enjoy!

Kim
Posted by: whippen boy

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 07/18/07 10:38 PM

Just read Kim's response, and was reminded of something amusing.

A friend of mine went to parochial school in France when she was a teenager. She said her (American) mother would have been horrified to know the lunchtime menu included ... wine! \:D

A different culture, to be sure.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Going to Paris - How do I NOT look like a tourist? - 07/19/07 02:23 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by whippen boy:
... the lunchtime menu included ... wine!
Ah those French... a class act. Not to mention the very apparent fact that they know how to build church organs and write supremely great music for them...