The Parisian habits you’ll pick up ‘in an hour’

The Local spoke to Olivier Giraud, the star of the hugely successful theatre show "How to be Parisian in one hour", to find out how to act like a local in the City of Light.

The Parisian habits you'll pick up 'in an hour'
Photo: Olivier Giraud/Facebook
If you're looking for the secrets to fitting in with the Parisians, then comedian Olivier Giraud is the man to ask.
He has been a staple feature on the Paris theatre scene for years with his smash hit comedy “How to Become Parisian in one hour” – a show that has welcomed over 500,000 spectators so far.
He promises audiences a better understanding of this most mysterious species of people, advice that hits home for tourists, Parisians, and especially expats trying to make a life in the French capital. 
“It's hard for expats to live in Paris,” he told The Local before a Saturday night performance.
“They are shocked by Parisians, but they love the city, the food, the way of life. And they're aware that the French don't speak good English and don't seem to care.”
He warns, however, that first impressions don't necessarily count, hinting that there is a lot more beneath the surface. 
“Parisians can be a bit cold, they see meeting people as a waste of time. But once you know them, they're quite nice, and very proud of the city, the fashion, and the architecture.”
So how can an expat (or visitor) act more like a Parisian? Giraud shares a few tips.  
1. Don't give up your seat on a Metro
The last thing you should do in Paris is give up a prized Metro seat, says Giraud.
“Not even to a pregnant woman, because it's not your fault she is pregnant. She played, now she pays,” he jokes.
And the only time you should think about smiling at someone is when an old lady smiles at you first. “She wants your seat, just smile at her and stay sitting,” he says. 
Smile at any one else and they'll just look at you like you're crazy. 
2. Refuse help while shopping
In a shop, when a sales advisor offers you help, never even look at them. Raise your hand and say “Non, je regarde“. The translation of this is “Go and fuck yourself”, says Giraud. 
As you can see in the clip below, the Parisians have a much different method of shopping than their American counterparts. 
3. Wear black
“All Parisians wear black, both men and women,” he says. “If they are a bit crazy, some people add grey.”
Another must is wearing a scarf, even if it's hot. 
4. Don't feel the need to fake an orgasm
Giraud says that there's no need to fake an orgasm if you're a Parisian woman. In fact, in his show he advises that women should do nothing more than raise an eyebrow. 
We won't describe how he says this differs from Latin American lovers… but it's one of the most animated parts of the show.
5. Don't try to befriend the waiter
Don't expect to be king when it comes to Parisian table service, says Giraud. And whatever you do, don't say “bonjour” to the waiter when he (finally) arrives. 
Get the exchange over and done with, and don't bother complaining about anything – especially not the service. The only way to make a waiter your best friend is to leave a tremendous tip. 

Feel Parisian already? Well you're almost there. For the full hour-long transformation, check out Giraud's show at the Theatre des Nouveautes, and get your tickets here.

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Top Paris theatre reopens as Covid occupy movement ends

French actors, stage technicians and other members of the performing arts ended a more-than-two-month occupation of the famous Odéon theatre in Paris on Sunday, allowing the show to go on after this week's easing of Covid-19 curbs.

Top Paris theatre reopens as Covid occupy movement ends
A picture taken on January 26, 2011 in Paris shows the facade of the Odéon theatre. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

The protesters took down the banners they had slung across the facade of the venue in the Left Bank as they left at dawn, leaving just one inscribed “See you soon”.

“We’re reopening!,” theatre director Stéphane Braunschweig exclaimed on the venue’s website, adding that it was “a relief and a great joy to be able to finally celebrate the reunion of the artists with the public.”

The Odéon, one of France’s six national theatres, was one of around 100 venues that were occupied in recent weeks by people working in arts and entertainment.

The protesters are demanding that the government extend a special Covid relief programme for “intermittents” — performers, musicians, technicians and other people who live from contract to contract in arts and entertainment.

READ ALSO: Protesters occupy French theatres to demand an end to closure of cultural spaces

With theatres shut since October due to the pandemic, the occupations had gone largely unnoticed by the general public until this week when cultural venues were finally cleared to reopen.

The Odéon, which was inaugurated by Marie-Antoinette in 1782, had planned to mark the reopening in style, by staging Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece “The Glass Menagerie”, with cinema star Isabelle Huppert as a former southern belle mourning the comforts of her youth.

But the protests scuppered the first five performances, with management saying the venue was blocked — a claim the protesters denied.

“What we wanted was for it (the performance) to go ahead, along with an occupation allowing us to speak out and hang our banners. We don’t want to stop the show,” Denis Gravouil, head of the performing arts chapter of the militant CGT union, said on Sunday.

Two other major theatres — the Colline theatre in eastern Paris and the National Theatre of Strasbourg — have also been affected by the protests.
France has one of the world’s most generous support systems for self-employed people in the arts and media, providing unemployment benefit to those who can prove they have worked at least 507 hours over the past 12 months.

But with venues closed for nearly seven months, and strict capacity limits imposed on those that reopened this week, the “intermittents” complained they could not make up their hours.

The government had already extended a year-long deadline for them to return to work by four months.

The “intermittents” are pushing for a year-long extension instead.