How to travel in France without looking like a tourist

How to travel in France without looking like a tourist



The French are often believed to be stereotypically snooty, especially around outsiders who don’t understand or respect their closely held cultural traditions. If you are looking forward to trip to France, you should be prepared to experience the possibility of negative attention for being a tourist. However, you can mitigate much of the locals’ lofty attitudes by adopting the refined French style. France is a beautiful country — and the people can be beautiful, too, if you earn their praise by not standing out.

Wear the Right Fashions

Even if you are the clothing trendsetter back home, continental Europe has a vastly different sense of style than America, which means locals will probably immediately notice you as “not from around here.” Unless you expect to participate in highly athletic activities (including sporting or beach events), you can certainly leave these articles of clothing at home:

  • Athletic shoes
  • Flip flops
  • Sweat pants
  • Shorts of all kinds
  • Baseball caps

Of course, it is still important that you choose comfortable clothes while you are on vacation, but if you are looking to blend in with natives, you absolutely cannot rely on your normal sense of style. Instead, your travel wardrobe should err on the upscale side; shirts and pants should fit well — both baggy and tight clothing is unfashionable — and follow simple, stylish cuts. Additionally, you should stay away from bright, bold colors and patterns. The French palette is usually composed of muted hues like blacks and browns with a single splash of color in a scarf or necklace.

Know When and How to Eat

Another popular French stereotype is that of the svelte French woman who eats multi-course meals every day. Indeed, looking around in French cities, you’ll likely notice the people appear slimmer and healthier than their American counterparts, yet eating food is one of the most important French cultural events. French people — and Europeans in general — tend to maintain trimmer figures than Americans despite apparently voracious appetites because they tend to enjoy food differently than we are used to.

First, healthy, natural ingredients are much more valued in France than they are in the U.S. Fresh, local produce is available in every city and on nearly every street, which makes cooking healthfully much easier.

Secondly, the French may eat more courses, but for the most part, their meals are much smaller than the typical American’s. For example, while an American may cook a regular breakfast of eggs, pancakes, bacon, hash, and toast, a French person is fully satisfied with a single croissant or piece of fruit. Thus, if you want to blend in during your vacation, you should try to keep your plate less full than you’re used to.

Finally, snacking is not a common habit in France. From a young age, French children learn that there are three meals a day, and that’s it. While breakfast may be small, lunch is typically large and long, which allows the French to remain sated until their very late dinner. Likely, your days will be so filled with activity and sight-seeing that you’ll naturally start craving a nibble, but to look truly French, you should definitely stop yourself from bringing snacks on your travels.

Feel free to Smoke and Drink

It is obvious that wine is a major part of the French lifestyle; French people pop corks of red and white every day for dinner and often for lunch, as well. The excellent wine country is likely already one of the major reasons that you are visiting France, so I scarcely need to warn you that drinking wine with food is mandatory for looking like a native in France.

However, you might not know how common cigarettes still are throughout Europe in general and France in particular. Nearly 16 million French people identify as smokers, and you’ll see many of these around the big cities you plan on visiting. You should feel free to light up anywhere outdoors while you are in France — but you should be aware that Europe’s strident attempts to curb the dangerous habit are driving up cigarette prices around the continent. You would be wise to bring along a few disposable e-cigarettes, which last longer than traditional cigarettes, taste better, and are potentially better for your health.

Don’t Speak

Unless you speak impeccable French with a flawless accent, the French will be able to peg you as foreign as soon as you open your mouth. Still, it is ridiculous to assume that you can spend an entire vacation in utter silence. Instead, when you do need to converse, you should be aware of your speaking habits. Most Americans speak louder and more confrontationally than Europeans, so you should pay attention to the volume and tone of your voice at all times.

With a bit of planning and practice and avoiding the initial stress of getting from the airport to your hotel with the correct airport transfer, you should look and sound like a French local in no time. Yet, if you find it too much work to keep up appearances, you should do your best to have a fantastically fun vacation in France.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See Our Favorite Topics

Exit mobile version