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How not to appear too much like a tourist in a Paris restaurant . . .

How not to appear too much like a tourist in a Paris restaurant . . .

Old Feb 7th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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How not to appear too much like a tourist in a Paris restaurant . . .

I know, I know - many regular contributors here disdain the "How do I fit in?" questions. But they do get asked a lot, so I thought I'd post this article I found entitled, <i>"How to blend in: 12 ("Une douzaine") tips on how not to appear too much like a tourist in a Paris restaurant . . . (or at least how to be a good one)."</i>:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/kp2u2g

I've only visited Paris a couple of (brief) times, but these tips seem like a pretty good primer for visitors intimidated by their first visit to Paris (or France).
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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Some useful information in there, but minuscule is spelled wrong (sorry, couldn't help but notice), and "gueule" does not mean "throat." It means maw or snout or the mouth of an animal.

A good primer, though.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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Some are common sense, but I think the author(s) is full of it and themselves. It is obvious when I got to the adolescent remark that people should keep their hands on the table or "people think something unsavory is going on". This is the kind of silly remark that some adolescent male would snigger about, and I think British people say silly things like that, also. Somehow French people are so silly and unsophisticated that they don't realize that other people in the world may have different customs at the table than they do. Now what does that reflect about who is uneducated and crude. A lot of that article reads like some smug thing by people who think they are so clever and so much better than others. The fact that they have a blog to prove so goes with the territory.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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I don't make reservations, but might if it was a top one.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 09:28 AM
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But I am a tourist and do not mind surprising the waiter when he hears me speak with an almost undetectable accent.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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The best way is to speak & read French fluently - preferable with a good French accent. Then even if you are sounding like a fog horn, go "gee ain't it quaint", are 6 foot wide, have a fanny pack, wear shorts, and old college sweat shirt, white socks and clown shoes people won't think you are a tourist
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:00 AM
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I've seen shorter "manuals" for operating a nuclear power plant than these guidelines for a simple visit to a restaurant.

Some facts and useful info aside, I second Christina's opinion that the author is a bit full of himself. I've eaten at so many places in France, urban and rural, and that vicious waiter that is almost waiting for the tourist to make a mistake to correct him or her is a mythological figure I still have to encounter. I cannot remember one single place where the waiter was not professional and helpful. Probably not the screaming "Hello, I'm Cindy, and I will be your waitress tonite"-type -- but I doubt that anyone would expect that in the first place.

Some travellers have the nasty habit of blowing useful information so far out of proportion that it turns into rocket science. I assume it's their way to bask in some weird glory to have *mastered* a trip to a French restaurant.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:10 AM
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I am always reminded of the VERY nice waiter at a cafe in France.

I was there with 8 teenage girls... Let's get real there is no WAY we didn't look like tourists. Girls at one table, adults at another. Girls all order "steak", none of us are paying attention. Waiter discreetly comes to me and shows me what they ordred. Off I go to deal with this. The 8 American teens are getting ready to order "raw meat" (Trust me it would not have been a hit) He went out of his way NOT to embarrass them! LOL! SO.... while there may be a "rude" guy, there's also the "nice" guy. Same as you will find anywhere in the world!
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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After living in Paris for 4 years and visiting a lot over the subsequent 10 years, the "titles" of the first sections in the link aren't that far off. ie. say bonjour/bonsoir, try your best with your french, be patient, don't be loud, dress nicely, say "merci, au revoir" when you leave, know how to say it was a good meal, etc. The last 3-4, I'm less sure of. All common sense. Percentage-wise the waiters in France are more lifetime professionals than in the US and really price themselves. Finally, just realize you are a tourist so you will never be perfect and enjoy your meal!
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:15 AM
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PS. I was thinking that it might be fun to write an article on how to help a French person not look like a tourist in an American restaurant
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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Now, if you want to LOOK like a tourist, I have a guide for that: http://tinyurl.com/yfzfjx4
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:54 AM
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As the OP stated,,,,this is a good primer for visitors who might be intimidated by their first visit to Paris(or France).
AND it never hurts for others to review!
We've traveled in France many times and lived in French West Africe for 3 years......but some things with the French are just done differently and we should follow these customs.
AND to repeat......"a good primer",

(I don't get the idea that the authors are "full of themselves", and will reserve my opinion of people who might think that)
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:59 AM
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Well, while I've hardly ever encountered the stereotypical rude French waiter, I've certainly seen my share of tourists getting all worked up because they want a salad before their meal or a cappuccino afterward and are getting strange looks from their server. I've also seen waiters crack a big smile when an American party slaps down a big wad of euros as a tip at the end of a meal. And I've heard plenty of tourists complaining that they had to wait forever for the bill, etc., etc., so whether the authors are full of themselves or not, I think it's a reasonable (if overblown) list of things for neophytes to know in advance.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 11:16 AM
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I agree with mari but I have been to many good restaurants
without a reservation including The Auberge De L'ILL
in Alsace where guides books say book months in advance.
The only rude waiter I have encountered in my many years
Was a woman in Roche Bernard, Brittany.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 11:34 AM
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My French friends and I still don't make a reservation 95% of the time. There is no restaurant that we frequent that can't be replaced by another one within 15 minutes. However, I am willing to admit that tourists do not have this luxury, nor a convenient catalogue of replacement restaurants in the back of their mind. Therefore I would tend to stay that consistently making a reservation other than for the really high end places brands you as a tourist rather than making you appear to be Parisian.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 11:45 AM
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You may find this interesting...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programme...nt/8500246.stm
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 11:51 AM
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"Therefore I would tend to stay that consistently making a reservation other than for the really high end places brands you as a tourist rather than making you appear to be Parisian."

YEAH! My total failure at reservations has just been vindicated. I am not a "lousy tourist" I am a Parisian!

(I admit, I read all the great reviews and think "that would be a nice place to eat, but in numerous trips to Paris, I have managed to make ONE reservation I don't knwo why, but I like to eat where I wind up when touring and that is VERY variable! I admire those of you who are much more organized them me)
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 01:13 PM
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Unless you grew up or attended school in France, forget about fooling waiters or shopkeepers. The moment your imperfect "bonjour" leaves you lips they know you're not a native. It may sound great to you, but they know better.

But most French service persons we've met appreciate the effort, although it's usually easier for them to respond in English so you may have to insist on practicing your French.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 01:18 PM
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Ok, I'm offically scared to death to even remotely think of trying to eat in a restaurant for my trip this May. I'm already doomed since I rarely drink and it seems asking for coke with my meal may earn me a trip to the Guillotine
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 01:26 PM
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eliza61 wrote: "asking for coke with my meal may earn me a trip to the Guillotine"

And deservedly so!
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