Although the sign said private, we snuck in for a quick peek.
When it comes to being a rule follower, sign me up. I believe in rules and I abhor getting in trouble, but when it comes to Paris all bets are off. Sometimes it’s good to be an “Ugly American” and bend the rules just a bit. How do you know which ones to break? Here’s my gals guide to breaking rules in Paris and having fun while doing it.
Pay attention to the posted signs. I view the privacy signs as optional. Some of the coolest places I have visited in Paris are behind “Privée” residential signs. After all, I am not breaking into someone’s unit, I just want a peek inside the gates to see how the real Parisians live – and what they are denying the rest of us from seeing. Some of the coolest gardens in Paris lie behind the closed garages and gates. If I get caught it’s easy enough to drop the little French I speak and use my adopted home base Texas accent to claim ignorance. Get in, get the photo and get out! Don’t linger, don’t knock on any doors and for God’s sake don’t try to talk to anyone. Act nonchalant or even indignant and you will fit right in.
Also when it comes to traffic signs, they are optional too! Just watch for motorbikes before you dare cross without waiting for the “green man” to signal it is safe to cross. Jaywalking is ok, but not always advisable.
As a general rule, French women do not each much. Who cares? We can diet pre-Paris and bank some skinny pants goodwill ahead of time. Once safely on French soil it’s time to wave that caloric intake meter goodbye. When I am in Paris, I am there to soak in as much of the culture as possible. This includes consuming as many different pastries as possible. As a certified eclairoholic, I will go into shock if I miss a day without one.
Always look chic. Avoid waking up and throwing on a pair of jeans to sightsee. Ah, non I say! It’s best to try to look cute at all times, but there is nothing wrong with donning your favorite pair of jeans and comfy shirt for a long day of touring the City of Light. Just please don’t take the casual thing too far and wear jogging shoes or other equally hideous footwear. We can’t go native over here or we will stick out like sore thumbs.
Eat only French food. Again, I say NON! While I love to immerse myself in the culture through food, it is also important to acknowledge that France is becoming a melting pot of various cultures and ethnicities. There is a certain delight I take in eating Moroccan food for my main course and following it up with chocolate ganache afterwards.
Comfort food can be a God-send when you are tired while abroad. Satisfying a craving for a quick hot plate of food is easily done by visiting a pasta joint like Del Papa’s. It’s a chain, but a reliably good one. They also serve wood fired pizza for those traveling with finicky eaters or children. Paris has cuisine from everywhere! Why not Indian, Chinese or Mexican one night? It’s vacation, eat what you want when you want.
You must visit the Eiffel Tower. Once is enough every couple of years. I don’t go very often to this iconic landmark and for God’s sake I don’t need to go up it every time. There are many vantage points in the city where you can snag a peek at it to fulfill the, “Hey, I’m really here in Paris and I can prove it with a selfie of me with the Eiffel Tower in the background.” Besides, when you visit less frequently it makes it even more special. It’s cool to see it from different perspectives. My favorite spots are from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and from Sacre Coeur.
Eat later in the evening and stay at the table all night. Yes, the locals tend to go out to dinner later in the evening than we Americans typically prefer. Yes, the restaurants will either be nearly empty or full of other tourists if you opt to dine between the hours of six o’clock and eight o’clock, however there is no shame in keeping some of your routines from home intact. I usually eat on the earlier side because I enjoy an after dinner drink somewhere trendy with great people watching post repast.
The important part is to remember to have fun and don’t worry too much about what you are wearing or try to be someone you are not. This is your vacation, have fun and relax. The only thing necessary is to bring a good attitude, a warm smile and commit a few French vocabulary words to memory: s’il vous plaît (please) and merci (thank you) in order to have a successful trip.
Let me know how your rule breaking goes. If you get arrested for trespassing, don’t call me, call the American Embassy!