Will be going there in Sept. I have heard that Paris is a lot dressier than other Eueopean cities. For those of you who have been there,did you find this to be true?
Well, yes and no. You won't see shorts or sneakers on adults, except at resorts. You will see jeans, but only paired with nice boots and a sweater or leather jacket, not frayed ones with a T-shirt. In fact, you don't see that many T-shirts. You will see lots of black and dark colors - the Parisians don't seem too fond of very bright things.
The Parisians I know have fewer clothes than most Americans I know, but they are good basics. And they don't worry if they're seen in the same skirt or pants twice in a week. (Of course, neither do I!)
When I go to Paris, I take a calf-length black skirt, black pants, black boots, and black flats. A pair of sandals in the summer. I take a variety of sweaters and blouses, plus a leather jacket and some simple gold jewelry. These will take me through everything, from a walk through Montmartre through a night at the opera.
Men are generally okay in the male counterparts of what I just mentioned. They may wish to throw in a tie, but a leather jacket or sweater is usually okay, instead of a suit or sports coat.
College-age people are bit more informal, but I stayed in the fifth arrondissement last time (the area around the Sorbonne), and found that the college kids usually wore black pants rather than jeans.
If you've heard that Parisian women are big on scarves, it's true. Take a couple, or just buy them as souvenirs.
Don't pack too much. More than one medium-sized back, plus a tote, is too much, no matter how long the trip. Cab drivers simply refuse to drive short distances, and there is often no one to help you at your hotel. If you can't carry it yourself, it's way too much.
Paris is wonderful, amazing, beautiful. Enjoy your trip!
Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this. It has been a big help.
As long as we are on the topic...I am going with DH in October. While there, we will be attending a wedding of family friend (the bride-to-be did an internship at my DH's company and lived with us during that 10 week period 3 years ago). In fact, the occasion of the wedding is the prompt for a two week vacation. Yippee! Anyone care to comment about what attire is expected? The wedding is in a church in Lyon at 4 PM, with the reception at what I think is some domaine about 50 KM's away at 7 PM. Thanks for all help...I hate overpacking!
I don't know what would be expected, but I do know that Lyon is more traditional and conservative than some other cities around France. If I were going, I'd take a simple, dark dress and some jewelry.
Sorry I can't help with advice on jewelry, dresses and such, but I'll say this: with the possible exception of Rome, Paris is the greatest walking city in the world. Above all else, I'd say take good walking shoes; if you love walking in Paris as much as I do, you'll be glad you did.
Are you trying to avoid looking like a tourist or are you trying to fit in as a Parisian? There is a lot of difference. As to whether Paris is a more dress up city, I just don't believe it is true. You will be KNOWN AND IDENTIFIED IMMEDIATELY as a tourist and they will expect you to be a tourist. They will be more interested in whether you make ANY attempt to try to speak French than they will be in what you are wearing (unless what you are wearing happenns to be nothing at all). A little spoken French, even poorly spoken, goes a LOOOONG way with the French people.
You're right that visitors will usually be known as tourists. If you speak French fairly well, that doesn't always happen. I've been taken as French, Dutch, Czech and American while in France!
While you won't necessarily pass as French, many people (and I'm one of them) do like to blend into the style of the place they're visiting, as much as possible. Also, since September 11, the U.S. State Department actually recommends that tourists outside the U.S. not wear things that draw attention to them as Americans. Like white sneakers or super-bright clothing.
I do entirely agree that all visitors to a foreign country should learn and use some basic phrases - "good morning" "hello", etc. These can be found in any decent phrase book.
They are always used in France. When you walk into a shop or restaurant, you say, "Bonjour, Madame". When you leave, you say, "Au revoir, Monsieur" or "Bonsoir, Mademoiselle". Every time. Even if you can't speak a bit of French beyond this, you will appear to be a polite person.
I agree, even if you are looking in your phrase book in front of the person you're trying to speak French to, at least they will see that you're trying to speak their language. It does go a long way in how helpful or friendly they will be towards you.
Paris is wonderful but a little dirtier then I expected. Please learn a few French phrases. Everyone was so nice when I spoke a little French. Usually they answered in English!
Just don't wear white sneakers unless you want everyone to know you are an Americian.
We stayed at a wonderful Hotel called the Astrid Hotel just a couple blocks from the Arc De Triumphe(spelling?). The rooms were small but charming, the staff very pleasant, a great breakfast and good location.
What would you wear for a comfortable walking shoe? I have degenerative joint disease in my right foot, and uncomfortable shoes can make my life a nightmare, but yet I don't want to scream that I'm a tourtist. Any suggestions?
Also, the lady that I'm going with (Fall, 2003) is a recovering alcholic; what alternative is there to the wonderful wines that are served? (Neither of us want to be seen as weird or prudes, but we don't drink.)
I have foot problems, too. My main pair of walking shoes was a black microfiber/suede-y pair of shoes from Rockport, similar to the link below. I also took a pair of black boots that are *very* comfortable, though a bit dressier than the shoes. I took a few pairs of black tights to wear with the shoes and boots.
That, with a black skirt and pants, plus some tops, was my whole wardrobe.
Oh, you should know that the cab drivers in Paris simply won't take you if they think the distance is too short. The friend I was visiting in Paris told me this, but I didn't believe her, and ended up walking about 15 blocks with too much luggage. (Last time I ever overpacked.)
My sister doesn't like alcohol, and she generally drank sparkling water or mineral water, with an occasional soft drink or an Orangina. Evian is available everywhere, as well as many other waters. Coffee and tea are everywhere, and hot chocolate can often be found. I'm sure you'll do fine.
Have a wonderful time!
Here is a link that might be useful: Rockport shoes
I found the tap water in Paris to be very good. My whole family drank it with no problems. If you prefer bottled water, that is fine, but don't order it just because you think you should. I read in Rick Steve's book that there is a law in Paris that they have to serve you tap water if you want. We never had a problem, they just brought it in a carafe. I understand that they are used to American's drinking it.
Tap water in French is; l'eau du robinet