In 2010, in collaboration with the Herald de Paris, I wrote a series of semi-serious articles about how to act like the French in France. Here they are.
Every article on this page is in English !
So if you expect to drink coffee under the Eiffel tower while reading a French newspaper as you’re smoking a cigarette… Good news: I’m here to teach you how to read properly, or even better – frenchly, the newspapers.
When you’re invited for dinner, you should always remember to arrive late. Being on time is rude, being early is unforgivable. The appropriate lateness is about half an hour after the appointed time. Don’t be later than that, though. It’s rude. Just be ‘fashionably late’.
Chirp gaily like a confident little bird. Aim for the strongest accent, the most shocking grammar incoherencies, and the most inventive vocabulary.
You’ve probably heard of le Moulin Rouge, where you can’t find Nicole Kidman, where there is no weird elephant-shaped apartment, but you can still find a red mill and overpriced sights of bare breasts.
What shocked them wasn’t the vulgarity. Neither did the obvious disrespect of authority. Being typical French, they don’t have any issue with either of these minor details. They were astounded, though, to discover there was a traitor amongst them.
Just to get our facts straight, roughly 1/5 of the French work as civil servants. That is a lot. If we did some math, we’d divide the French population like that: 1/5 fonctionnaires, 4/5 anger management specialists.
Let’s say I take the plane: I can be in Marseille in under 2 hours. Jumping in a train, I would reach Marseille in 4 hours. By car, 8 hours approximately.
A baisemain should be graceful; consequently, you must never hold the woman’s hand. You slide your hand under hers, slowly, so she can slap you if she disapprove.
Simple: Pretend that you know what you’re doing. Most Parisian people don’t either. Give up.
In the countryside, about a century ago, it was common for everyone, including children, to have a glass of wine per day – for health purposes, they said. Our own version of the apple a day.