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France: Tips & Tricks

By Benji Elkins:

France is a beautiful country. Filled with great food, music, architecture and culture, it is truly the Disneyland of upper middle class white people.

Recently, I was given the tremendous opportunity to journey out and experience the country, from its dense cities to its outer countryside and have compiled a list of tips and tricks that, if followed, will guarantee a safe and enjoyable trip.

France: A cultured man's guide to a cultured man's city.

  1. When entering a French store, the first thing to do is greet the clerk with a quick, “Bonjour”, “Salut”, or “Sorry, I’m an American”. Unlike the states, France is very picky about how you treat the staff of a shop, store, or restaurant. Whereas in America, employees must be accommodating to the customer, in France, the customer must accommodate the clerk. In fact if you go to an especially French store, it is you who must convince the employees to sell to you, not the other way around. An unforeseen plus to this is that if you do a really good job, the staff may leave you a kind tip for being such a good shopper.

  2. Buying groceries in France can be very difficult. The French marketplace has an abundance of food and visiting it is a must. Walking down the streets of Paris, the smells of fresh fish, bread, and meat delight the senses. Sometimes after a purchase at the marketplace, you may even be offered a complimentary baguette (you must keep in mind that the French have a strong affinity for small versions of things such as cigarettes, towelettes, and people named Annette). Always skip the offer. A baguette is simply just a really small bag. Remember to stay environmentally conscious, even when on vacation. When offered a baguette, carry your items or bring your own paper bag to the market instead; skip the plastic.

  3. Something to look out for in France, especially in the cities, is congestion. Delayed buses, metros, and large scale protests can often slow down your trip. The best way to avoid these hindrances is to walk as much as possible! Even take back streets if needed. A great tool to keep in mind is the Allez app, an iOS application that will tell you exactly where streets are backed up do these factors. It also has a calendar with the location and time of the month’s scheduled protest. However, this portion of the app cannot always be 100% trusted, as sometimes the French like to perform impromptu civil disobedience.

France is quite a country and I encourage everyone to go. That is unless you would prefer to vacation in a country where the populace is not constantly judging you. But the food is yummy.


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