Being a tourist is fun. Going somewhere new and seeing all the sights, getting lost, awkwardly pulling out your map and just wandering around is one of the best parts of travel (just don’t be that loud American, OK?). This is how you know you’re a tourist in France.
You’re a tourist in France when…
1. You’ve sampled everything at the boulangerie and you’re back for more… and it’s only 11am.
2. You think the police sirens sound weird.
3. Your debit/credit card won’t work when you try to rent a Velib (in Paris), when trying to buy a metro ticket or pretty much anywhere else outside of big cities. Note: French cards don’t swipe — they’re inserted and have a chip. American cards usually don’t have chips, although this is changing, and aren’t compatible with most French card readers. In big cities, many card readers do accept cards that aren’t chipped but always have cash on you just in case!
4. You leave the grocery store with disposable plastic bags you got there (or you just carry the groceries out in your arms), instead of bringing your own reusable bags.
5. You have to pull out your phone to do a C to F conversion (or euro to another currency conversion).
6. You start getting hungry for dinner at 6 p.m. and wonder why all the restaurants are either empty or closed.
7. After eating, you leave a pretty significant tip on the table and don’t get why the waiter has such a huge smile on his face. Note: The French don’t tip!
8. You’re definitely a tourist in France when you unintentionally ignore the shopkeepers’ friendly bonjours upon entering and au revoirs upon leaving.
9. You’re introduced to some new friends and give them a warm American hug — and they just stand there. Note: The French don’t hug! (what to do instead)
10. You actually engage with the scammers on the street in Paris that either pretend to find a ring on the ground, want you to sign a petition or some other scam. Keep on walking!
11. You go with your sweetie to attach a lock to the Pont des Arts.
12. You’re in Paris in August. All the Parisians are en vacances for the month!
Melissa Bauernfeind says
I’ve been to Paris quite a few times (but not nearly enough!) and I can say that I’ve only done one of these but it wasn’t my fault – my husband needs to eat, as he puts it, at a “regular” time. I made him compromise and we would eat “early” some days and “late” on the other days. We were always so happy to pass for locals – we would have made it too until we had to answer back when spoken to. Always a giveaway.
Another tourist sign – baseball caps.
Yup, the early dinner will definitely make you stand out. Even if I’m having fun and seeing things, my stomach starts telling me it’s time to eat around 6. But after living on the French meal timetable, I have to say I don’t start grumbling til 7 — which is still too early for Tom.
Ugh! Ugly tennis shoes, baseball caps, ill-fitting pants, and fanny packs!
I just love your blog! I’ve been to France and Paris five times and am dying to go back! I love how things never change there and they don’t adopt to American ways (portions, to go cups, etc.) I hope they never do. It’s the same in Italy. I was the only one in a restaurant eating spaghetti around 6:00pm. They thought I was weird and couldn’t figure out if I was eating a late lunch or something….
Thanks so much, Mary. Yes, France does have its charm. I’ve done the same thing as you — dinner at 6pm just to be stared at. 😉
Ashley @ A Lady Goes West says
The good news is — I like to eat dinner late and I always have reusable bags with me. But I’d probably fail on the boulangerie visits and hugging. Man. Good tips! I’ve only been to France once (Nice) and hopefully didn’t do too many of these!
See, you’re a natural! You’d fit right in here. 😉
Yes to tennis shoes bc French women only seem to wear high heels or nice sandals. Meanwhile, I wore my black Converse bc there’s just too much walking to do in Paris! 🙂
I have to say a lot of French women wear Chuck Taylors. I saw a lady wearing some black ones who was in her 60s the other day! They seem to be really popular. But I’m with you — with all the walking you need a good shoe to protect your feet! Blisters are no fun.
Ze Coach says
I can relate in the other way being French and living in Dallas, Texas. For example, for #4, one day I returned to Home Depot with a reuseable bag of the store which I bought in a previous visit. The cashier told me that it was the first time he ever saw a customer actually reusing the bags of the store.
Oh wow, well change starts with on person. So maybe you’ll start a revolution. Keep bringing your bags and teach those Texans how it’s done! ‘-)
The Pont des Arts does not have locks anymore…
Oh good! Haven’t been there in a while so thanks for the update!
I was fortunate enough to live in France for a year, a loooong time ago, but I think I can avoid most of these, haha! My husband will stand out with his baseball cap when we go next year though, and of course, my accent. Canadians have had chip debit and credit cards for years now, so no problem there.
when you go to the grocery store and do not know how to put the coin in the lock for the shopping cart!
Yup, that’s a good one! Only the token or a 1-euro coin will work! Not sure if I already added this (old post) but not knowing how to open doors is another one. Sometimes there’s a button, or a special trick w/the handle, next to the door and if you don’t know to hit the button, you’ll stand there for a few seconds thinking, “What the heck?”
Oh no! I’ve booked a trip there for August. Will this be a problem for me?
Hope not, why would a trip be a problem?