Paris Travel Guide

Respect

In general, Parisians have a reputation for being egocentric, rude and arrogant. At the same time, they tend to judge people based on their own rules, mostly based on socio-economic differences. Thus, the best way to get along in Paris is to be on your best behavior, acting like someone who is "bien élevé" (well brought up). It will make getting about considerably easier.

Parisians' abrupt exteriors will rapidly evaporate if you display some basic courtesies. A simple "Bonjour, Madame" when entering a shop, for example, or "Excusez-moi" when trying to get someone's attention, are very important; say "Pardon" or better "je suis désolé" if you bump into someone accidentally or make other mistakes; if you speak French or are using a phrasebook remember to always use the vous form when addressing someone you don't know, may transform the surliest shop assistant into a smiling helper or the grumpiest inhabitant to a helpful citizen. Courtesy is extremely important in France (where the worst insult is to call someone "mal élevé", or "badly brought up").

If you only learn one long phrase in French a good one would be "Excusez-moi de vous déranger, monsieur/madame, auriez-vous la gentillesse de m'aider?" (pardon me for bothering you, sir/madam, would you have the kindness to help me?) - this level of extreme politeness is about the closest one can come to a magic wand for unlocking Parisian hospitality. If you know some French, try it! But remember, too, that Parisians have places to go and things to do, so if they have no time and don't answer you, don't take it personally. Many Parisians, given time, will go out of their way to help, especially if you make an effort to speak their language and act polite to them.

Most foreigners tend to ignore two basic rules of courtesy in tube and train transport in Paris. If the car is full, and you stand next to the door, you are expected to get down to the platform at a stop so that people inside can find their way out. Once they have got out, you can go back. However, don't expect the same courtesy from locals and, if the train is full, get ready to get down with enough time in advance. In a corridor, when pushing a door, you are expected to hold it to the next person, so that it won't close abruptly. This rule is strictly observed in the tube, and quite commonly everywhere else.

In addition, if you are travelling to or from the airport or train station and have luggage with you, make certain that you are not blocking the aisles in the train by leaving your bags on the floor. The RER B (which links both Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports to the city) has luggage racks above the seats; it is best to use them so you do not block the path of a local who is getting off the train before the airport stop. On the Métro and especially in the RER, please don't take up extra seats with your luggage. There are luggage racks and spaces between the seats. Also note that use of the folding seats on the Métro is not permitted during peak hours.

Be aware that there are hefty fines for littering in Paris, especially with dog droppings.


source: Wikivoyage

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