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.