Paris, the capital and biggest city of France, attracts 33 million tourists annually, whereas France, world’s most popular tourist destination 83 million.
Paris, and France in general, is known for its gastronomy, rude cafe servers, aloof, if not outright unfriendly citizens, yet tourists love the wide boulevards, the hustle and bustle of narrow, cobbled inner city streets, fine restaurants, even finer museums, sights and shopping opportunities.
Before Baron Hausmann rebuilt Paris the city was a medieval town with houses lacking plumbing and kitchens. People bought their food from specialists of roasts, sauces, soups, baked goods, and pastries.
In 1765 the first restaurant called Boulanger opened and served sheep’s trotters in a white sauce, broths of meat, and quickly sued by specialists (members of guilds) for serving more than one type of food.
Boulanger still exists but serving coffee, and light dishes, but you can visit the old kitchen in the basement.
Parisians and French in general eat food with knife and fork, even if they order a hamburger.
Never call a server by snapping your fingers or clinking a glass. They will be annoyed and will tell you off in no uncertain terms. All servers think of themselves as professionals and not servants. Never try to hire a moving taxi. None will stop. If you approach a driver in a designated parking and ask whether he would take you one, don’t be surprised if he/she tells you to be engaged, especially when the driver is eating or otherwise occupied. They are “moody” and will assess you before they decide whether the fare is worth the trouble.
In fact the mayor of Paris has now printed a pamphlet in several languages for tourists and locals how to treat tourists, learn their habits, be polite. For the locals the pamphlet explains the importance of tourists for the economy of the city, and much else.
Parisian males dress more carefully and tastefully than women. They sue a lot of skin lotions and care for their skin. For females make-up is part of dressing. This can be observed on the faces old women.
Parisians seem to be in a hurry all the time. If you look lost no one will ask you whether they can help, even if you speak French and ask politely, as it happened to me.
French, generally, don’t eat junk food and abhor the idea of snacks like chocolate bars or wafers popular in North America.
French mothers also spank, if rarely, their misbehaving children and you will notice how well behaved they are.
Traffic appears to be chaotic, yet somehow it moves swiftly. Be prepared to be cut off, if you decide to rent a car and return it any big city, or have it delivered to the airport or drop it at an international airport.
Parking in Paris is a major problem. Once you check in, park you car in a garage and use public transportation. It is excellent and fast.
If you are planning to visit southern France cities always park you car in supervised lots or garage.
Thefts occur all the time, mostly by Roma or other illegal people desperate for food and money.
Always make hotel and restaurant reservations to avoid unnecessary and unpleasant experiences.