14 bizarre things you should know about Paris before landing there

May 13, 2022

Sophie was super excited about her upcoming trip to Paris where she was going for her semester exchange program. After binging on “Emily in Paris”, Sophie was set to have her saga of “Sophie in Paris”. 

With the most fashionable outfits packed in her luggage and “bonjour”, “mercie” as her new lingo, Sophie landed in Paris; the Paris that she was imagining to be exactly like what she had seen in the movies or the dramas. But unfortunately, Sophie was in for a little disappointment as she missed out on these 14 bizarre things about Paris that she wasn't aware of.

Want to know these bizarre facts about Paris? Well, then keep reading and save yourself from getting disappointed. 


  • 1. Stopping at a Red light? Not very Parisian

We are talking about pedestrian crossing. Paris strangely seems to be very similar to India in this scenario, as in both places stopping at a red light crossing and walking only at the green light isn’t much of a habit. In Paris, you’ll find people walking in between the traffic lights like an avenger. All they gotta do is estimate the time and distance between them and the car to cross the road(mind you all this calculation is done while being in between the traffic) and voila, they have crossed the road. 


  • 2. The Smokey Paris

If you are a chain smoker, then you will fall in love with Paris at first breath but, if you are a non-smoker then you are going to face some heavy clouds of smoke around you, almost all the time. People of Paris are continuing the charm of old French movies, where actors and actresses would be sipping pipes or smoking cigarettes most of the time. One can find young and older people smoking in the city while doing their activities. Café, Parks, and bus stops everywhere you would catch someone either lighting a cigarette or stubbing one, or maybe just finishing packs. 


  • 3. French words make life easier 

While visiting a new city or a country, one should keep in mind that their culture and language might be different from yours and that is why it becomes pertinent on your part to be respectful towards their language and culture. When visiting Paris, try learning a few French words like- 

  • - Bonjour- Greeting to say someone when meeting in the daytime
  • - Merci- Thank you 
  • - s'il te plait- Please 
  • - Excusez-moi- Sorry

These French words may not be a lot, but they will help you to communicate with the locals while also showing them that you respect their culture and, most of all, appreciate the vibe of Paris and its civic harmony. 


  • 4.  Be careful with Paris Park Picnic plans

The beautiful green grass may look very tempting and just the right place for you to spread out your picnic mat and sit on the grass while enjoying the sun but hang on, before you jump on the green grass of Paris parks, just look around to see these boards “Pelouse interdite” which means Prohibited laws or “Pelouse au repos”, that means lawn at rest. 

If you happen to see these signs, then it would be wise to not sit in these parks, as most of the Paris parks have prohibited sitting on them to maintain their beauty. Only at selected places, the public can sit in the park or selected parks where there is no prohibition on sitting on the grass. 


  • 5. French can speak English

If you aren’t in the mood to act like Mitchel from Modern Family who wants to pretend that he is French and not American while visiting Paris, we would suggest you speak in English only if you aren’t fluent in French. Thanks to the growing American influence, people have picked up the language and can speak English(to an extent). So, if in case you get lost in the city, then do not waste your and the local’s time by asking them for directions in your not-so-very-accurate French and just simply ask them in English. Of course, you can say “Merci” instead of “thank you” to just add a little French touch.


  • 6. Cheese, wine, and bread are special to the French

If you don’t want to fall into the bad books of your new French companions, then do not criticize their cheese, wine, or bread. These three items are dear to the Parisians and they might take a little offense if you criticize either of these three items. Moreover, while being in Paris, we would suggest that you ditch your regular choices of meals and indulge in the varieties of cheese, wine, and bread Paris has to offer. Bon Appétit in true Parisian style.


  • 7. Do not brag about weight loss trends

One thing the French do not like is the whole concept of extreme diets and weight loss trends. Parisians love their food and they do not understand the concept of sacrificing soulful food to be thin. Yes, we understand what you are thinking that not everyone is gifted with the genes like the Parisians who can munch all day long on cheese yet, be thin and healthy. But, it is also important to state that as much as they are blessed with great genes, the Parisians also live a well-balanced life of food and physical activities, which helps them to burn all that cheesy weight and stay healthy. 


  • 8. Public washrooms aren’t free

Yes, you read that right- public toilets aren’t free in Paris (the ones with attendants). The fee to use these toilets is around 1 or 2 Euros. So, if you are traveling to Paris on a budget, then we would suggest that you use the washrooms of the café where you are having your food before exiting onto the streets, as then you might have to control your bladder till the time you are not back to your accommodation or go for an expensive toilet time.


  • 9. Paris’s food is great but expensive

Parisians experience their food and not just eat it. For them, good quality food equates to a good life and which is why you’ll see them relishing their food with regular lunches, brunch, or dinner that will be coupled with a bottle of wine. Therefore, if you are not on a tight budget, then you too can enjoy the meals in Paris, just like the Parisian style i.e. experiencing their culture through their food. 


  • 10. After Monday it’s only leftovers

If you are staying in Paris where you are cooking for yourself, then you would want to get your vegetables and groceries at least by Sunday, because after that you won’t be able to get any fresh vegetables or fruits. Also, keep in mind that on Mondays the market sellers keep their shops closed as it is their resting day, so a safe bet will be to stock up by Saturday or Sunday so that you don’t end up eating rotten stuff or worse, hungry. 


  • 11. Cheek-kissing is a serious tradition

The cheek-kissing tradition of the French has already been seen in countless movies and dramas. So, be ready to get a lot of cheeky interactions, whenever you are invited to a French get-together. Keep in mind, if you do not follow this tradition, then it may be regarded by the locals as being rude. So do watch out for that. 


  • 12. Do not expect Metros to be on time

If you are planning to reach a destination by metro just 20 minutes before its closing time, then we would advise you to at least keep some extra time in hand, especially if you are taking the metro on the old routes like Line 11. 


  • 13. Always travel with a valid ticket

Only in movies, you’ll see the actor or actress travel by public transportation without a valid ticket in Paris. But, in reality, Paris is very strict about traveling with tickets - valid tickets. The tapping systems in many of the central stations have a tapping system that can easily catch anyone who has not traveled with a valid ticket. The punishment for such nuisance is pretty heavy fines, so ensure that you purchase a ticket for traveling, or else you’ll end up paying thrice the price of the ticket as a fine. 


  • 14. French aren’t rude

Generally, it has been considered that the French people are rude. But, the reality is that French people are welcoming and polite unless you do not rub them the wrong way ( very much a humane behavior). Parisians may not agree on a lot of Americanized things but that doesn’t make them rude. They like foreigners visiting their city as it gives them a chance to interact with different cultures as well as the tourism improves their economy. But, one has to keep in mind that we are the guests in their city and not the other way around, therefore it is the duty of the tourists to respect their culture, language, food, and rules so that no one gets disturbed and the civic harmony continues effortlessly. 

Paris is often on everyone's (almost) bucket list, and one can only hope to have the best time in the city of love. As much as Paris is aesthetically beautiful, it also has this enriching vibe in it. A blend of art, history, and modernism, has made Paris today a unique and refreshing experience and thereby, tourist must experience Paris in a true Parisian style- through its effervescent people, food and culture.