“When in Rome one should do as the Romans do.” Often grabbed by my mum as a child when on holiday, she would hiss this saying in my ear. Maybe due to a rebellious streak or child naivety (which one, I have never been quite sure) I displayed questionable behaviour. I was accosted by my mother, mainly because I conducted myself in a way that she considered shamelessly, yet recognisably British. Now, as a young adult whose life plays out online, I try my hardest not to bring distress to those I love. Standing on picnic tables nude, singing the Spice Girls. (I did say it was shameless).
I ventured across the channel to France for an internship at Zac Posen during PFW. I noted a few things whilst in Paris, and thought I’d be kind enough to list and share my observations, in the hope that you avoid any type of faux pas. Or just generally pissing someone off.
1) You look like a foreigner…
Apply the same fashion rules to every city and you run the risk of looking even more touristic than you sound. Pariseans seem to stick to a basic palette of khaki, navy, black and white. When placed against the grey skyline, it may seem a bit drab. But unless being stared at gets you off, I wouldn’t bring a bright yellow coat and matching trainers with you.
Tip: Keep it simple with minimal, but quality pieces. A well cut coat is a must. And leave the cheap faux fur at home. There are old ladies chillin in Champs Elysees whos’ vintage fur will make your Zara coat look like a cheap 70’s rug.
2) Don’t believe what you’ve heard…
Let’s be honest, at some point you must have been warned about either the ‘rudeness’ of the Pariseans or their tendency to respond in quick fire french. Like any city (NYC, London), the inhabitants appear more assertive, blunt and in a constant rush. Although there maybe some truth in the rapid response french theory, I found the people to be nothing more than friendly, and accommodating of my ability to totally butcher their language.
Tip: Start by speaking in french, a simple bonjour will do. Pariseans are far more inclined to help you if you demonstrated that you have tried.
3) “Don’t kill my vibe…”(know what suits you)
It may seem obvious to frequent travellers, but avoid the touristy spots. Interning for the week, meant that snoozing at the Park Hyatt was off my list. Bye Pullman hotel view of the Eiffel Tower, hello budget friendly Aparthotel. However, staying in a less touristic arrondissement felt authentic. This worked for me, as come 10pm when I was on my way back from work, everything near my hotel was still open; there was a buzz. The Eiffel tower maybe busy during the day, but at night ..*pin drop.* I was surrounded by actual locals, rather than large groups of Asian tourists. Not that I have a problem with either, but my point is, I felt more at home.
Tip: Research and pick an arr in Paris that suits your needs. Everything is accessible by Metro, Taxi or Uber. You don’t have to stay right on top of the main attractions to enjoy them.
4) Product Pilgrimage…
Riding the train everyday was a major blow to my ego. 30 minutes worth of a cleanse, prime and conceal felt inferior to the naturally clear skin of the everyday french female.
Eek …Confession time, if you didn’t already know I’m a product junkie. The ultimate skincare obsessive, from La Roche Posay, Avene, Elemis to Aesop, I have dabbled in drugstore and dipped in high end to find a miracle cure for my blemish prone skin. Let’s just say I’m still searching for the holy grail. So upon visiting a country whose skincare reputation precedes it, it would have been irresponsible of me to leave empty handed! Prior research had left me with only one chosen destination to seek skincare enlightenment, City Pharma. A Pharmacy located in the 6arr (26 rue du Four, 75006 Paris,France Saint-Germain-Des-Prés) known for its extensive stock and inexpensive prices.
Tip: Bring a list of the items you want, you might start to feel bogged down with all the unknown products. Visit early in the morning and alone. Avoid dragging an uninterested best friend at peak times, as it’s far too crowded and the queues are endless.
5) Let it go… #NoFrozen.
It’s called an English breakfast for a reason. Meaning it is from the UK and other countries are not obliged to serve up our oily hangover cure. The French grab a croissant at a boulangerie (bakery) of their choice each morning and that is that. No hash browns, beans or sun side ups. So don’t embarrass yourself by going around asking. Just get over it.
Tip: If you really can’t bare the thought of skipping a fry-up, ask at your hotel or locate a restaurant that serves the traditional English dish ..I’m not sure it is even sophisticated enough to be deemed a ‘dish.’ lol but whatever. *shrugs*
Hope this helps guys.