Paris is a cosmopolitan city and its inhabitants represent a fantastic mix of cultures, religions, backgrounds and wealth. Though it is impossible to generalize about such a diverse population, you may find that Parisians tend to be more formal than most Americans when it comes to language, dress, common courtesy, and even food.
The French have two registers for addressing someone as 'you': “tu” (the use of 'tu' is known as “tutoiement”) is the more casual register, and is used for a person you know very well, and “vous” (“vouvoiement”) the formal and plural form). To avoid any awkward social situations it’s always better to start with “vous” until you are invited to use 'tu'.
Eating and mealtimes are extremely important cultural experiences in France. Parisians like to take the time to sit down and enjoy each meal, and are rarely seen eating on the go in the street or on the metro.
Each country has its own particular attitude towards tipping for service. Service is always included in France and tipping is at the customer's discretion. Examples of tipping: round up to the next Euro in the taxi or tell the driver to keep the change, leave a couple of Euros for a meal at a standard restaurant, leave 10 to 50 cents for a coffee, give €2 to the person who brings your coat from the cloakroom.
Some stereotypes about the French include that they are typically smokers, fashion icons, slim and slender, drink wine and coffee like water and are the ultimate romantics. While these archetypes can prove to be true, it is important to keep in mind that each person is an individual. The French focus on the riches of life - from small delicacies to family life, and take time to indulge in them. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are engaging in a refreshingly rich culture:
Can’t speak any French? No problem. English is widely understood and spoken in Paris, although it is generally more common among younger people. It is especially common to hear English in tourist hot spots – museums, parks, restaurants, etc.
Here are a few basics to start with:
|Please||S’il vous plait|
|You're welcome||Je vous en prie|