The Dos And Don’ts Of Living In Paris

You’ve decided to come to Paris. You know you should probably go see the Eiffel tower, visit the Louvre and maybe eat a croissant, now what? Though you might feel like you know Paris pretty well–after all you’ve watched Amelie so many times you no longer need subtitles, you’ve listed (but never actually finished) Breathless among your favorite movies on Facebook, and always secretly thought Carrie should’ve stayed with Petrovsky…but you really have no idea. Paris is weird and Parisians are even weirder. Things are never what they seem in this city, so here are a few helpful do’s and don’ts to get you through even your most quotidian Parisian encounters.

Do Parks

One of the reasons Paris is unique from other major metropolitans is because of its abundance of beautiful and accessible parks. I know where you come from parks are scary places where babies play, drug dealers work and homeless people sleep—this isn’t the case in Paris. Parisians all have really small and shitty apartments so they make public space their second home. At your local park you can smoke, eat, stare, have friends over, drink, kiss, read, talk, there’s even free wifi; it’s like home, just with better people watching. So get out your picnic blanket and settle down to chez vert.

Do Moleskine

They’re French anyways. It’s a perfect way to record all your cliché observations and experiences in your new city. Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway, Matisse and Wilde all owned one-now you can too. The Moleskine will make you feel so intelligentsia and besides it will make you look busy at the cafés, as it can be an inexpensive and healthy substitute for cigarettes.

Do wine

Learn to love wine, because that’s all you can drink here. Forget about hard liquor, it’s considered really trashy, even the hobos don’t drink it.

Do Boyfriend

Do get a French boyfriend. He will fuck with your head, he may or may not drive a scooter, he will have a cute smile and he will most definitely cheat on you. If you date a French man you will guarantee yourself a healthy dose of drama and romance… isn’t that what being abroad is all about?!

Don’t Ask for Directions

When you are lost in Paris (you will be), the absolute last thing you should do is ask someone for directions. You can expect one of two responses: either a shrug and a blank look or a really long and involved set of directions that gets you to the furthest geographical point in the city from where you actually wanted to go only to discover that the place you were looking for was in fact a block from the place you initially asked for directions from. Amy Winehouse’s hairpiece would literally be more help than a Parisian in this situation. I really don’t have a good explanation for this phenomenon. The former response I can attribute to typical Parisian rien à foutre but the later still baffles me. So if you’re lost in Paris, do yourself a favor and just give up—it’s the Parisian thing to do

Don’t Beret

Don’t you dare look, think, purchase or breathe the word ‘beret’. Just because Gossip Girl did it, doesn’t mean you should. Nothing says American lost in Paris like inappropriate headgear.

Don’t Sunday

Never On Sunday is not only for the Greeks; it also applies to the French. Don’t try to do anything on Sunday, actually be wary of Mondays, Tuesdays, the month of August, Wednesdays, the hours of 11:30am-3:00pm, Saturdays and most Fridays. Nothing is ever open in Paris. Accept this fact and plan ahead for your Sunday picnic.

Don’t Color

Avoid making a splash. This advice is both practical and ideological. Neutrals are uniform here. Don’t take this as a cue to bring your brightest clothes so that you stand out, the French hate that. The whole American individuality thing doesn’t translate here. The French will just think you’re being obnoxious, and they’re right, you are.

You can read more Paris Do’s and Paris Dont’s hereTC mark

image – aigle_dore


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  • Bourdillon

    I like this list, it's accurate without being too precise (there are secrets about Paris that we dare not share with the uninitiated) but the word “cliché” is not a fucking adjective.

  • Gazeclear


  • Matthew

    SUNDAY rule is too true.

  • Michael Koh

    Thing to do in Paris: Jump over fence and break open chin.

  • robotwisdom

    (Moleskine's Italian not French)

  • chelseafagan

    Not to be that guy, but ugh. It's good to see all of the stereotypes gathered in one place, easy on the eyes.

    For the record, bakeries and other specialty shops most often organize amongst each other to decide who is open Sundays and who is open Mondays. Get to know your neighborhood and you'll figure it out. Same thing for August, generally speaking.

    Lots of people wear color, especially in the summer months. You can, too. Just wear it in a smart, put together way–as with pretty much anything else.

    People will be glad to help you with directions. I have found Parisians to be some of the most helpful when it comes to pointing you where to go–and have been asked by many people for help, and always do my best.

    Helpful hint: don't be an idiot and expect people to speak English. Then they will be rude to you and probably not help you, but it's because you are being rude and presumptuous, not because they don't like giving directions. Not anywhere close to all French people speak English, and no one likes being put on the spot.

    French people drink liquor all. the. time.

    Parks are cool, though.

    Oh, and if you date a French guy in the hopes that it will be one big series of cigarette-fueled existential crises, you deserve to be cheated on.

    • guest

      Chelsea Fagan knows everything about Paris and your experience of living in Paris is invalid

      • chelseafagan

        This is true.

    • Guest

      “You deserve to be cheated on”

      Wow. You just reached a new low of bitch

      • kate

        fagan wishes she could achieve bitch level, but that would require her to be actually smart and/or funny.

      • guest

        Wouldn't that be cool?

      • Michael Koh


      • Michael Koh


  • guest

    DON'T:  wear a burqa

  • Fibs

    OK a french girl living in Paris (yes me XD ) is going to make things right … The only thing you can find open in Paris on Sunday s are bakeries (only the morning in small cities) but not all of them, bars and brasseries, parks …

    everything is true about parks, it's really a great place to be when you have a freetime. Paris is so noisy and crowded that you'll naturally looking for parks … but i don't think  they have wifi. Go to the “Buttes Chaumonts” park or “Montsouris” … Both great ;) . during the summer, parisians people have a tendancy to act in parks like if they were at the beach. I find it weird but considering there's no real beaches, why not.

    Yes french people love wine, but they drink any kind of alcohol. depends where you're going and the context…

    Sorry but the thing about being cheated by a french guy is wrong. It's like everywhere else. Don't ba a pain in the ass, don't date an a**hole and you'll be fine. French guys will pay for your dinner and drinks, you just need to recognize those who are doing it only to get you in bed . the others will do it beause they like you and because that's how we do in France…

    I have to admit that parisians are not very friendly. it's almost impossible to have a random conversation with someone you don't know. they will avoid you, like if you were talking to them only to get something. Not everyone is like that, don't worry

    about clothes, Paris is actually the place in France where you can be fashion-free ! there's so many people and different styles that no one will care.

    If you're going in Paris here's what you should do :

    1- take a walk along the “Quai de seine” during the night because the lights are just amazing (I do it with my car something and i'm stomached everytime)
    2- have a picnic on “le pont des arts” , there's always musician and artists. But it's easily crowded …
    3- museums, of course
    4- close you bag and don't leave you phone on tables, there are thieves.
    5- take the open bus tour. maybe a tourist cliche, but it's really good
    6- if you like roller-skate, a big ballad is organized on fridays 1opm and sundays 2pm, starting at Montparnasse. It's really fun.
    7- if you like disco music, go to the “Queen” on a monday night. It's a club on champs elysees, expensive but fun ;) …

    Not to do:
    1- Spend the 14th of july in Paris, two many people, you'll spend your time looking for your friends and a place to sit … Better do that in a small town.
    2- walk alone in the night . Especially if you're a girl and if you are in Bastille.
    3- think that people who don't know you will talk to you. That's only in Paris, I come from the south and people talk to each other more easily .

    I have a million “to do” and “not to do”, but that will be too long…

    And sorry if there' are mistakes, my english is far from perfect ;)


  • Alex Thayer

    paris is dumb

  • guest

    Paris sucks, everyone move to Kraków

    • Woyzeck

      Kraków gets very boring very quickly, move to Wroclaw!

      • guest

        Also fine by me!

  • sarah

    did you steal these or do you run the paris do, paris don't tumblr?

    • EP

      She runs the Paris Do, Paris Don’t tumblr.

  • guest

    I'm french lives in Paris for 32 years. The direction thing is wrong, people will be glad to help you. The rest is mostly right.

  • Marianna Elvira

    hahahahaha, berets.

    yes, the uniformity is amazing, but i just love to splash everyone with my sensational sense of style.

  • exitclov

    I've lived in Paris and find your tone extremely grating, I'd say on par with that of most of the local waiters. Your dos/don'ts (judging from having read all of your tumblr so far) are very hit or miss. Also, Sex and the City references = puke.

  • Ryans_a_fatty

    Super false

  • guest

    moleskine notebooks are italian.

  • Milena Pagan

    I think you missed the most important don't: Don't speak English to Parisians without first asking them (in French) if it's okay to do so. Paris is the only place I've seen people get butthurt over this, but hey. I try to adjust to their manners and shit. They've always preferred for me to use my accented French or even some Franglais when I don't know the word.

    Some stores are open on Sundays, especially in the morning and more especially in touristy/high traffic areas. Find them, learn them. Parisians do drink liquor– I think it's more common to see them chugging wine or beer because it's easier to find (any corner supermarket) and generally cheaper. Plus, it's so easy to finish a bottle of wine… It's just more practical. And Parisians are also good about giving directions if approached with a ridiculously pompous level of politeness– “Excuse me, sir, I don't mean to bother you but would you be so kind as to point me to X” level of politeness. There's really no need to ask for directions because there are maps all over the place, but people do do this. If you give up everytime you're lost… You're not doing it right.

    I don't want to be the “I lived in Paris for a summer THEREFORE I know all there is to know about it,” but… Honestly, these tips and the blog sound like written by someone who just moved to Paris and is turning to generalizations about everything. Everything (and everyone) in Paris has its exceptions.

  • Kyle Angeletti

    Generalizations! Misinformation! Stupidity.

  • Monica Gomez

    we live here and would love all of you to post more ;))))
    we are mexican and love teh hard liquors.. oopps. so which one of you are right? eiiii
    peace in the middle east
    and btw no one mentioned the “to do” festivals. that would be a big help.

    ps what is up with the africans who try to attatch string bracelettes to your fingers/deaf-mutes

    • Anonymous

      String bracelets are a scam. They’ll try to extort money from you, complaining that they can’t cut the bracelets off, as that would ruin the artwork. They target women, who they assume will be too embarrassed to fight back.

      Deaf mutes with the clipboards are Romanian gypsy children. They’re not actually deaf. They’re tolerated because the police feel bad about prosecuting children that young. Push them aside, yell at them, and hold onto your pockets to make sure they don’t pickpocket you.

  • Hgg

    Nothing right. People can be stupid everywhere you know.

  • Ju2206

    i’m french and i lived for a year  in the u.s and although not everything you say is true, a lot of it is actually what will find in Paris !! =)

  • milla

    Don’t Sunday: so true!
    Parks though, really? Maybe its because I come from London, but I find there are so few parks in Paris, and as for the few there are, they are TINY and you are often not allowed to sit on the grass except for one tiny patch. Luxembourg, Tuileries… why do the French think grass is just for looking at?

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