How To Be A Parisian?

We’ve all curated an image in our heads of the typical Parisian. And thanks to stereotypes, movies, books, and television, that image doesn’t vary much from person to person. Usually, we imagine a Parisian to be a man wearing a turtleneck with a cigarette in his mouth or a woman with tousled hair, red-painted lips, a beret on her head, and a baguette in her hand as she rushes home. But, how true is this image? We all wonder, how to be a Parisian. What does it really mean to be a Parisian? And how can you be a Parisian?

How to be a Parisian


How to Be A Parisian: Move Fast; Savor Slowly

A huge part of the Parisian culture that does match up to the typical Parisian image we see in our heads is moving fast. Whether they’re in a rush or not, you’ll see Parisians moving swiftly while they go to and fro. They seem to have a “march” type walking style. You’ll see female Parisians in heels walking swiftly as their heels clobber on the cobblestone. Parisians are incredibly familiar with Paris traffic and street etiquette so you’ll see them crossing the street with ease and with incredible speed. So, how to be a Parisian? Walk, or marche, quickly!

While Parisians do walk and move quickly, they also take the time to enjoy life and what it offers. They eat slower, have longer lunch breaks, and take lots of time to engage in leisure with their families and friends. In fact, many supermarkets and stores aren’t open on certain days of the week or close earlier in order for employees to spend time with their families. Like any major city, Parisians move fast and live a speedy life, but they don’t forget to savor life slowly and meaningfully. How to be a Parisian? Go enjoy a meal with your friends and family and take all the time you need! Savor every moment!

How to Be A Parisian: Fashion

If you want to be like a Parisian, you have to nail their fashion sense! The key to Parisian fashion sense is being casual yet stylish, or, chic. The women wear long trench coats, and flouncy, yet structured silhouettes while the men wear accessories such as hats and sunglasses with layered sweaters and jackets. In the winter, Parisians are known for their layering; hats, gloves, scarves, you name it! In the summer, Parisians are known for their relaxed attire. Anything goes! How to be a Parisian? Layer!

If you want to be a Parisian, go for clothing pieces that are stylish, yet casual. Don’t be afraid of patterns or layering and don’t forget to accessorize with a pair of big sunglasses! 

How to be Parisian


How to Be A Parisian: Smoking Culture

If you were to ask anyone in the world, how to be a Parisian, most would say that you need a cigarette in your hand. In terms of smoking, the stereotype really is true! The French sure do love their cigarettes and vapes and there is a definite smoking culture in Paris. Walk along Paris, and you’ll see cigarette butts littered all over the streets and many Parisian’s hands adorned with their smoking devices. It isn’t for no reason that France has been nicknamed “Europe’s Chimney”. Unfortunately, French teenagers aren’t safe from the smoking culture and about 40% of French 17-year-olds smoke according to NPR. So, if you do decide to emulate the Parisian culture and be like a Parisian, please use a prop cigarette!


How to Be A Parisian: Pick Up Your Meals As You Go!

An overlooked way to be a Parisian, is picking up your meals throughout the day. No, I don’t mean go to your local restaurant and pick up your meal from the drive-thru! Because Parisians live such fast-paced lives, they often pick up various elements of their meals as they go on through the day. For example, Parisians will pick up baguettes before they go home to go with their dinner, pick up vegetables and fruits as they go on with their day, or head to their local bakery or café to pick up croissants and pain au chocolats for breakfast. This is why you will see many Parisians walking with tote bags and reusable grocery bags to collect their groceries. So, in order to be a Parisian, find a local farmers market or small bakery and get your groceries on your way throughout the day!

How to Be A Parisian: Enjoy A Quiet Moment

How to be a Parisian? Enjoy a beautiful and calm moment along the river! Paris may be a busy, bustling, fast-paced city just like New York or LA, but there are many places where you can enjoy a quiet moment to yourself. When you go to Paris, you will notice many people sitting along the seine, or river. Some people sit by themselves while others sit with friends or family. Many people have picnics there and bring their favorite snacks to enjoy the tranquility of the river. Not only is the river itself lovely, but there are always boats passing by to watch. In fact, there is a cute tradition of Parisians sitting along the river waving to the people in the boats as they pass. Sitting along the river may not be the comfiest as you are essentially sitting on brick and cobblestone, but it is a beautiful and rather unconventional place to spend an afternoon. There is a reason why you always see Parisians sitting along the river; it’s just amazing! Impress any local friends you have by ditching a famous tourists area by spending a few hours sitting along the river! To be a Parisian, sit along the river or enjoy a quiet moment anywhere else!

How to be a Parisian


How to Be A Parisian: Scooters and Bikes Galore!

Here is a fun way on how to be a Parisian; whiz along in an electric scooter or a motorcycle! Just like in New York, there is a huge walking culture in Paris and because of that, many Parisians don’t use cars very often. In Paris, you will see tons of Parisians whizzing away on scooters, motorcycles, and bikes. In Paris, there is a separate lane (aside from the regular sidewalk) for those on bikes, making it easy for bikers to navigate Paris. 

Electric scooters are increasingly popular in Paris. You can find electric scooters on nearly every street corner. The way the system works is that someone downloads the app, pays for the scooter at an hourly rate online, and enjoys the (surprisingly fast!) scooter for the amount of time they paid for, and then leaves the scooter anywhere once they are done for someone else to use. Because the scooters are so popular and there are many ready to use in Paris, people can leave them almost anywhere and someone will be sure to find it for their use!

So, if your city offers these electric scooter solutions, use them as its a surefire way to be a Parisian! They are slightly frightening because of their unexpected speed, but entirely thrilling! Or, enjoy a beautiful bike ride!

  How to Be A Parisian: Spend A Few Hours At A Museum!

How to be a Parisian: spend a few hours at a museum and become thoughtful and well educated on culture and art! It’s no secret that Paris has beautiful and world-renowned museums! From the Louvre to Orsay, there are plenty of musées for you to enjoy. Each museum in Paris has something unique to offer and there is something for everyone! From art to history, from culture to fashion, each museum has something unique. And, the museums are in beautiful locations and buildings. 

Every first Sunday of the month, many popular museums like the Louvre, and the Picasso Museum are free! Furthermore, national museums are free for all persons under the age of 26 from the European Union. How great is that! No wonder going to museums is such an integral part of Parisian culture. To be a Parisian, visiting museums is a must!

How to be a Parisian


How to Be A Parisian:
Live in A Mouse’s Hole; Almost

Perhaps the least welcomed tip  be a Parisian While Paris may be glamorous, its apartments are often not. Parisians are accustomed to living in very small apartments with several other people. In fact, the smallest, legally rentable apartment is apparently just 9 square meters! So, if you want to live like a Parisian, let’s hope you aren’t claustrophobic!


Conclusion 

So, while the image of Parisians the world has in their minds may not align perfectly with reality, many aspects are true. From scarves to smoking, many parts of the Parisian caricature are in fact true. However, there is a lot of aspects of Parisian culture that often go unnoticed. From their museum-visiting habits, fast speeds, and love for leisure, there are many ways you can incorporate Parisian living into your life and I hope this article helped you on your quest on how to be a Parisian.

How to be a Parisian

French words used in this article

Marche = To Walk

Croissant = A flaky french pastry

Pain au Chocolat = a sweet, flaky, pastry with a stick of chocolate in the middle

Seine = River

Musée = Museum

About the Author

Andrei is a linguist who speaks several languages fluently. He founded Elite French Tutoring as an expression of his passion for entrepreneurship and for the French language and French culture. He has helped numerous professionals, students and young people dramatically improve their skills in the French language.

As the Emperor Charlemagne said: "To have another language is to possess a second soul."

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