Ten Steps to experiencing Paris like a Parisian…

While I lived in Paris many years ago, it seemed much of my time was spent working, commuting to and from work, or lining up to get into movie theaters or other popular places. We were in our late 20s then, and had few responsibilities. Several times a week, evenings were reserved for relaxation, a good dinner with friends, or a movie. Saturday afternoons were perfect for running errands and le lèche-vitrine, (window shopping.) Sunday lunches with relatives were sacred. In the afternoon, there was time for some sightseeing, or a visit to a special exhibit. In the spring and fall, when days were longer and la grisaille (grey skies) finally lifted, we would indulge in day trips to the Normandy coast. Seaside resorts such as Deauville and Trouville, or quaint towns like Honfleur were (and still are) très popular with Parisians.


While we were in Paris a few days ago, I looked around whenever we were en ville (downtown.) People watching has always been the cheapest form of entertainment in Paris. I looked at Parisians and saw them running around, looking down, jumping on and off packed cars in le Métro, munching on a galette complète (a ham and cheese crêpe,) or a jambon beurre (butter and ham sandwich,) as they walked the streets at lunch time, looking at window displays. I realized things had not changed that much since we left. This used to be me. Paris is still one crazy, hurried place to live.

I also noticed that Parisians still know how to appreciate their city. In spite of their busy schedules, they look at her, flirt with her, and take the best she has to offer. Theirs is an enduring and tempestuous relationship, one that is often underestimated and misunderstood by the rest of France, where there has been a long-lasting tradition of criticizing ces fous de Parisiens (these crazy Parisians.) And so, without further ado, here is French Girl in Seattle‘s tribute to Paris and her people: 10 steps to experiencing Paris like a Parisian.

Rule #1: Know your cafés and restaurants. Realize that sitting outside will cost more, but do it anyway, whenever possible (in spite of smokers.)

Rule #2: Drop the iPhone. Respect the written word. Make time for your favorite newspaper, or a good book.

Sports fans always start the day with “L’Equipe.” 
Palais Royal 
Musée Carnavalet
Place des Vosges, le Marais

Rule #3: Pick a chair, or a bench (only tourists sit in the grass in public gardens.) Look around. Take a deep breath. Just be.

Canal  St. Martin
Les Tuileries
Musée Carnavalet
Place des Vosges

Rule #4: Organized sports? B.o.r.i.n.g! Just keep moving, and walk, walk, walk!

Bagatelle Gardens
Le Marais
Palais Royal

Do locate the ice cream truck. Les glaces, l’après-midi, c’est sacré (ice cream in the afternoon is sacred)!

Rule #5: Don’t forget to bring le chien. He needs to exercise and eat too. Did you hear that story about Americans picking up after their pooch? Bizarre, non?

Rule #6: Who needs a beach? Work on your tan. It’s a fantastic accessory.

Rule #7: Visit museums. Tour exhibits. Take walking tours with local guides. Check out local artists. This is one amazing city!


Fête de la Musique, June 21, 2012
Atget exhibit, Musée Carnavalet
Louis Vuitton – Marc Jacobs exhibit
Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Rule #8: Open your eyes. Be curious.

Rule #9: Respect Paris, and she will respect you.

Looking for the beach, dude?
Another snooty Parisian waiter!

Rule #10: Merde (and strikes) happen. Stay calm. Prove guidebooks wrong: Keep smiling. Don’t feed the pigeons. Focus on that great chair/bench waiting for you, somewhere…

“Wednesday June 20. Opening hours: 2:00p.m.-7:00pm.
— I will be back by 2:30pm.”

A ta santé, Paris! Cheers, Paris!

A bientôt.


Dear readers:

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What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)


  • Ten steps that could be used in a lot of other cities all over the world, and in France too! :o)
    Being curious is the secret of a good trip, a good blog, and even a good life, I’d say.

    1-Madame Mutti me fait penser à l’actrice americaine Holland Taylor.
    2-Ton banc est posté sur le blog de bancs.
    3-Et le centenaire a été célébré à la Rotonde du Negresco !


    • Chère Malyss. Je transmets à Mutti. J’aime beaucoup Holland Taylor. Classe, et très drôle! Quant au centenaire du Negresco, j’aurais aimé être là bien sûr! Contente que madame Augier, la propriétaire, soit toujours là pour voir tout ça! Bisous

  • Firstly, Mutti really does look like the ultimate Parisienne! Great selection of stunning photos with a commentary which kept making me smile. I like Deauville and used to visit Le Touquet quite often but haven’t been for a few years – I wonder if it’s as lovely as I remember. Thank you for your comment – you were indeed one of my very first followers and it’s always a pleasure reading your encouraging words. Just to let you know that I have really appreciated you taking the time to visit my blog and I’m so flattered that you enjoy my posts!

  • like the tips L-O-V-E the photos-my favorite way to pass the time anywhere is people watching-second fav bench/chair with a good book-the adjustment for the photo detail is like hd looks really good-until next time….

  • No one can wear a pair of jeans like a Frenchman. Don’t even try. 🙂

    That photo of Canal St. Martin was taken right at the end of the street I lived on, Avenue Richerand. That’s my old neighborhood! It wasn’t nearly as hip 15 years ago as it is today, but it was always pleasant walking along and across the canal. Especially when the local pompiers are working with their hoses next to it!

    I think my favorite photo is the long view between the trees at Palais Royal with the solitary figure in the path.

    • Bonjour Alison. You can only wear jeans right in France: They are too darn expensive to do otherwise!
      Yes, your old neighborhood has certainly changed and is now the heart of “Boboland” (Bourgeois-Bohemian– a fascinating breed to watch in action 🙂 As for watching les pompiers in exercice, well, I can think of worse things to do. An American friend of mine commented just last month in Paris that these guys have one of the most flattering uniforms she had ever seen… 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

  • Great tips, Veronique. Now I just want to return to Paris and test them out. And I love that you ended with a glass of champagne at Café de Flore, probably my favorite spot to watch Paris go by. Thanks for taking be back there!

    • Expensive champagne, au Cafe de Flore, but that is what you get for sitting in such a legendary place! This year, I did the touristy thing for the first time and splurged on several of their coffee mugs, now displayed proudly in my Seattle kitchen. After all, I have become a tourist when I visit Paris, too… Bonne fin de semaine, Jeanne.

  • Bonjour Veronique

    How beautiful to see Paris through your eyes and such wonderful common sense thrown in too.

    Your MIL is beautiful and gracious.

    I can feel your passion for the City you love and know

    Helen xx

    • I do love Paris, Helen, but it is nothing compared to Mutti’s feelings for the city she has always lived in! It is always interesting seeing it through her eyes… she never gets tired of it, and is always interested in learning new things… A bientot!

  • Dearest Véronique,

    Lovely post about Paris. Oh, the terraces and dining outside make me long for Limburg where this is so normal. You have to read my post for tonight 8:00 PM (EST) about Bastille Day. Yes, we have so much French culture in our province de Limburg. I miss it at times, sure… but like you we must kick off and move on in the nouveau monde.
    Love to you,

    • Just read the post Mariette, and I understand now why you mentioned Limburg. I was not aware of your French heritage. You taught me something today 🙂 Thank you for following my adventures, as always!

  • C’est une histoire merveilleuse de Paris. Avec des règles importantes pour apprécier la ville. Merci!

    A la prochaine.

    ~ L’ours Canadien

  • OK, this brought tears to my eyes. The gorgeous photography, the exact right words…i.e. IPhones at lunch???? Really?? How boorish it that!

    My son is a French citizen who attended grad school in Paris and lived there many years. He adores France but is glad to be out of the city. This post makes me realize I MUST live in Paris for a year…at least. I must be more than a visitor. My love of France is so ridiculous…and you Veronique, make me love her more!

    And your darling MIL. She’s just an adorable peach 😉

    • Good luck with your travel plans. It is not easy to move to Paris (be prepared to deal with the famous French Administration – oy! -) You would love it, however. Do you speak French? If not, time to study. This will make all the difference in the world. Bonne chance Suzanne!

  • Whenever we stay in Paris, we just be near the Bois so my husband can “faire son footing” in one of his two favorite parks (the other is Central Park in NY). He discovered the Bagatelle on one of his runs through the Boi and adores it.

    How delightful that you have discovered it as well. I have yet to see it.

    • Merci M-T– You did a great job catching up with this summer’s France Travelogue at once. I can’t believe you left a comment on each and every story. Merci beaucoup (you were right, I was sad there was no time to reply to my readers during the trip, but I loved reading them all the same, bien sur.) We used to go to Bagatelle as kids when we visited an uncle of mine who lived near Paris. I had not been back in years, mostly because it is out of the way. So happy I did! Bon weekend, M-T.

    • Carla– Thank you for your visit. Had you been with me on the trip, my photos would have looked even more striking, especially the “people pictures.” I – and the faithful Panasonic Lumix LX5 – did our best! 🙂

  • Wonderful rules to adhere to while visiting paris! Be curious, sit outside, people watch, stay calm ( those street maps!).

    We must have just missed you! Looking forward to seeing your photos.

    Enjoy your weekend

    • That’s right Leslie. As for the street maps, you need to get yourself a copy of that great little blue book I mentioned just two posts ago… Unbeatable to navigate Paris! Glad you had fun in the French capital, too!

  • We love Paris, everything about it! Three weeks is the longest I’ve stayed in Paris to date, but perhaps a month for my next adventure. I never tire of walking through this city and allowing serendipity to be my guide. Your gorgeous images and oh, so perfect words, make me long to return to my favorite city. Merci!

    • You’re welcome Sarah, and thank you for stopping by. Paris never disappoints (at least visitors…) A month seems about right to enjoy what that great city has to offer! I hope you can make it happen.

  • Oh what a wonderful batch of experiences, your wonderful mother-in-law and super dogs. Love the photos. And hey, you have used a photo on your profile I took of you in Menton. Wonderful! Super memories. French people do pick up after their dogs. It’s the law now. Perhaps not all, but most do – at least around here.

    • Bonjour dear Jilly. I loved your comment about dog owners. Even though picking up after your dog has only been a law for a few years, the city of Paris has spent millions (no exaggeration there) and years, trying to appeal to the Parisians’ “civic responsibility.” To no avail, apparently. I did notice a slight improvement over the last 5 to 8 years or so, but a very slight one indeed. Be happy people in Menton are a bit more responsible! 😉

  • Lovely, perfect post. I love your 10 ways. They make all the sense in the world. And that guy wandering around shirtless. He needs a little lesson in modesty. Only for the beach dude. Only for the beach. 🙂 And all those beautiful parks and places. Paris is definitely my kind of city. Filled with people who love to read, love good food and wine, and love their dogs. I love that les chiens go everywhere. So awesome, they are! And the walking ‘thing’, i adore that too. Best exercise there is. Thank you for sharing all this, Veronique. And i’m happy you had such a magnificent trip back home…

    • Bonsoir Victoria. Ah, un connaisseur! 🙂 I spent some time near Canal St Martin the day I met my brother for lunch. He works in the neighborhood. It has changed so much over the last 10-15 years, and will likely keep evolving as the new “Bo-Ho” crowd keeps moving in. Will look up that church the next time I go there. Bon dimanche!

  • Love your caption about dog poop. I find the lack of scooping poop here to be really strange and wrote about it on my blog actually. I’m changing one French person at a time, American style!

  • Ah, Veronique! I love it. What a perfect post. Mutti certainly is the quintessential French woman, isn’t she? All of the photos were great but I especially loved the one of the ados standing in the playscape chatting and the one cozy reader with her legs akimbo on the bench. Beautiful tribute to your capital city.
    bisous mon amie,
    aidan x

    • Bonjour Aidan. Les Ados collaborated with me nicely– I took a few shots, and I noticed the girl was “posing” a bit by the end 🙂 A tribute is exactly what this was, and my MIL loved it! Not all Parisians follow these rules, of course , preferring to make their own (in true French fashion…) but one has to start somewhere, of course.

    • … and it takes a lot for Parisians to relax. They run all day long! 😉 Thank you for stopping by, and for the “surprise” awaiting me on your blog this morning. I was very touched. More later…

  • En 1991, j’ai travaillé six mois à Paris en tant que fille au-pair et je garde un trés trés trés beau souvenir de tous. J’espère y aller une autre fois. Amicalement de l’Espagne. ;o)

  • I hope I look half as good as Mutti when I get to her age! Geeze! Wondrous photos of Paris. I can’t Believe I was one of those kids holding hands wiith my classmates…as we roamed around Toulouse. ;)I love seeing French children still do this today.

  • Ah, you’ve got it down pat. Or ex-pat, whatever. In any case, you deserve a pat on the back for this resumé of how to profit from Paris… maybe the list could go on and on though, there are oh so many ways to enjoy Paris.

  • Mutti is sensational! She reminds me aging Danielle Darrieux, so beautiful in her time. I’ve seen her on stage Théâtre des Champs Elysées in “Oscar” in 2003, still charming at 86 (!)

    Your Parisian tips are so timely as I’m packing for Paris in a few days.
    The last photo is so simple, beautiful and so symbolic. That’s what we ideally imagine dreaming about Paris…


  • I missed so many posts while my Sister was here–thank goodness Carla mentioned this on her blog because I would have been very sad to have missed this–I think it is my favorite FGIS post ever (and that is saying something). Your love for Paris just shines through. Natalie’s comment about Mutti looking like a younger Danielle Darrieux rings true for me too and hooray for Chez Fernand!

    • Welcome back Heather. I know you had a great time with your sis’ — This was worth missing a few posts for! 🙂 Thank Goodness you mentioned Carla’s story. I may have not seen it otherwise. I will make sure to thank her AND pass your comments on to Mutti. Come back soon.

  • Une très jolie promenade… J’ai pris du retard et ce fut un réel plaisir que de visiter cette publication… Honfleur… Je suis amoureuse de cette ville. Je connais chaque recoin, chaque maison…! puisque je cherche à acheter une maison à Honfleur. J’ai été très déçue dernièrement… J’allais signer pour l’achat d’une maison, celle où était né le peintre Eugène Boudin, mais son propriétaire, malade, a décidé de ne plus vendre…

    Paris est une ville si surprenante et si raffinée…

    Gros bisous et merci pour l’ensemble de tes belles photos.

    • Merci beaucoup Martine. Quelle histoire que l’achat (presque reussi) de cette maison a Honfleur! J’imagine tres bien la source d’inspiration qu’elle aurait represente pour l’artiste Martine Alison! Dommage, mais il y aura d’autres maisons…

  • What can I say? Of course, I’m awfully jealous. These are not just photos, they are ideal moments in life, captured by you. I really loved looking at these places. I showed them to my daughter, who simply said “Jealous!”

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