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Paris Tips: Making Small Talk A La Parisienne

Little Brown Pen

Warm? Friendly? Spontaneous? These aren’t perhaps the first words that spring to mind when describing the typical Parisien. However, I can assure you that once you learn to greet and meet like a local, the slightly frosty exterior slowly begins to melt.

The bonjour

In Paris it’s essential to say bonjour many times each day. A Parisian lives and breathes bonjours. To foreigners this may seem excessive, but barge into a shop, skip the bonjour and see what happens. French customer service, already suffering in the image stakes, reaches new levels of indifference.

Little Brown Pen

If, like me, you work in a large French company this situation can spiral dangerously and risks occupying a disproportionate part of your already coffee-break-filled day. I’ve come to dread lifts: not only is the bonjour compulsory on entering, the bonne journée (have a nice day) is also necessary on exiting. Et oui, this applies each and every time someone hops in or out. Even though my office is on the 5th floor, I’ve started taking the stairs!

Please note that the bonjour shouldn’t be too cheery or effusive for fear of rippling the careful air of nonchalance. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 16 Comments »

Faire la Bise: The Art of the Parisian Double Air Kiss

I’ve been back in New York for three weeks and I still can’t stop. Whenever I spend time in Paris, I pick up a habit that is nearly impossible to kick. No, it’s not smoking; it’s worse… it’s the double air kiss (standard Euro protocol for both hello and goodbye).

This maneuver—which generally involves touching cheeks but kissing the air near the other person’s ear—is so ingrained in my muscle memory that it has become completely involuntary to me (much to the chagrin of my American friends). I try to catch myself, but it’s always a split second too late. It happens again and again: the unsuspecting American person I’m double-kissing stands there, utterly bewildered, as on-looking friends roll their eyes and say something along the lines of, “Oh, Tory thinks she’s sooooo Euro now.” Or worse, the other person sort of tries to go with it, and we do an awkward head-dodging thing, and then inadvertently end up making out. Ooops.

KISS-largeHuffingtonPostHuffington Post

I promise I am not trying to be Euro. In Paris, on fait la bise (we do the standard Parisian double-cheek kiss) every time we say hello and goodbye. If you’re entering or leaving a group, you have no choice but to go around to each person and kiss him or her individually. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 11 Comments »