Paris is famous for many things: a legendary food scene, galleries to put the rest of Europe to shame, some of the world’s most head-spinning architecture, the glittering Seine and a long history of creativity, bohemianism and truckloads of je ne sais quoi.
Visitors can’t help but fall beret over heels for this inimitable city. However, if you’re planning on shacking up in the City of Lights for the long haul, you may have notice that making friends in Paris can be a little challenging. But fear not, once you get the ball rolling, Paris will open up like a fresh box of macarons. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you become the crème de la crème of the city in no time.
1.brush up on a little French charm
Gone are the days of snotty Parisian waiters looking down their noses as you splutter through the menu trying to pronounce ‘moules marinière’. Parisians don’t expect you to have polished your French language skills to Proustian levels, but they appreciate you taking the time to brush up on the basics. Arm yourself with the essentials: ‘bonjour’, ‘merci’, ‘vin rouge’…
As for what not to say? Manners count for a lot in this city, so steer clear of tired stereotypes (‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?’ Just no.) When it comes to bisous – or kisses to you and me – you’ll find the French love nothing more than to pucker up. It’s a tricky business as some people prefer two while others opt for four. Our advice? Let your new friend take the lead.
2.beeline for local spots
While places like the Louvre and Café de Flore have tourists flocking in their Nikon-wielding droves, you’re unlikely to mix with locals if you stick to the well-trodden tourist trail. In the summer, head to the bars lining the Seine for great music, views and native Parisians, while in the winter Le Comptoir General is the go-to spot for cultural events with a seriously hipster slant. Head for lesser-known neighbourhoods such as arty Belleville or hipster haven Batignolles, where you’ll find impossibly French cafes, mouth-watering bakeries, independent galleries and small gig venues crawling with Parisians. They might even mistake you for one.
3.hang out in cafés
Anyone who’s ever visited Paris knows it as Europe’s capital of café culture. No street corner is complete without a monochrome-tiled, bread-and-coffee-filled café, usually with a sprinkling of locals smoking and sipping pastis out the front. Grab a seat and a glass of wine outside and wait for a friendly eye to catch. Nothing prompts the blossoming of friendship like a “may I borrow your salt and pepper?”.
Parisians love a park. They also love a pet. Get yourself a blanket, a book and a couple of snacks and head to one of Paris’ prettiest green spaces – thinks Parc de Belleville or Tuileries – where you can bet your bottom euro that a dog will come sniffing, followed shortly by some friendly owner.
5.perch at the bar
While it’s no secret that a little booze can go a long way when it comes to throwing yourself headfirst into a new city, no one wants to sit alone in a lounge slurping a cocktail while the group of friends at the table beside you roar with laughter. So if it’s a drink (and new mates) you’re after, get yourself to the bar. Not only do you have a classy and ever-so-slightly superior position from here, but there are few people as sociable and clued-up to their city than bar staff. Ask what you should drink, ask about the neighbourhood – and if they’re unfriendly, ask where the nearest bar is.