We open a new series of interviews called „Chameleon travels”, which aims bringing the local habits closer. It suggests what to do and what to avoid in order to become invisible like Chameleon and not to stand out like unexperienced tourist. A series for those, who want to feel more local and collect even more unique experiences following the Ambient Travels spirit.
Let’s start from Paris, where we invited you in November. We asked Różka, the author of blog “Paryż pod lupą”, (Paris under magnifying glass) to answer some of the frequent questions and to give us some hints.
How to recognise a tourist in Paris?
You don’t need to wear a baseball hat and have a camera hanging on your neck to be classified by Parisians as homo turisicus. Everyday behaviours allow to distinguish the locals from the visitors. For example, only tourists are waiting on the red light. Parisians would never admit, that the traffic light knows better than them, when to cross the street. When you enter a small shop you don’t say “Bonjour Madame/Monsieur” , it’s another sign of being a tourist, or a caveman.
In your opinion, are Parisians tired of so many tourists?
Maybe sometimes, but at least they have something to complain about… Definitely workers of restaurants, stands or food tracks located near the tourist attractions have enough of hearing „which way to Notre Dame?” (which is just around the corner).
When it comes to public transport, how to use it in order to feel more at home?
Underground and RER are like a jungle so it doesn’t matter where you come from, the strongest wins. Using underground few times during rush hours is already a good training itself in order to feel local. It is also a great observation point, best way to look at parisian diversity.
While travelling we don’t always know the local eating habits. Tell us how it looks in Paris, what should we eat and when?
The topic of food becomes a bible with many, many commandments. Undermining them will cause the waiter to scowl, the guests to be bemused or will result in waiting forever for your order. Generally, apart from brasseries in touristic sights, where you can eat all the time, restaurants are open from 12 to 3 pm and 7 till 10/11 pm. Between 3 and 7 pm restaurants are usually closed or serve beverages only. Remember, after entering wait to be seated. You don’t want to upset the waiter.
During lunch, midi, restaurants offer one or more plat du jour, which you can find on a black board. It usually comes with a dessert or a starter and costs around 12-14 euro. If you wish to spend more on a proper meal, I recommend foie gras as entrée, entrecôte for main and cheese platter as a dessert. Finish your feast with cafe calva – espresso with calvados. Needless to mention, that the meal is accompanied by red wine.
Which is your favourite district and why?
I love the 11th and 4th. 11th because of its party character, thousands or great bars, gigs, various restaurants and usual parisian life, away from the tourists. It might be a bit boho or hipster, however it doesn’t belong to the expensive ones. 4th on the other hand is the area of Notre Dame and Marais, fantastic for walks, vintage shops and jewish falafels.
Which less known places would you recommend to visit in Paris?
Currently I’m writing about secret spots in Paris, for example roman baths from 2nd century, terraces with incredible views, hidden gardens. Paris is a city of many architectural and historical treasures. Recently, my favourite place for walks and running is coulée verte, a long park created on top of historical rail viaduct.
What other hints would you give to visitors in order to make them feel more parisian?
Don’t wear a backpack, have a morning coffee on a terrace of a corner bar, go to a local market for fresh vegetables, don’t smile to strangers, use merci, pardon, bonjour all the time, wear black or grey (remember about sunglasses and an umbrella – a must have) and don’t spend too much time by Eiffel Tower!
What to bring from Paris?
Memories and plans for the next visit!