You’ll realise pretty quickly that, in Paris, everyone is out to get you! Just try crossing the road. Even with the benediction of the Green Man looking down and luring you across, the odds are against you. The gypsies will try to fool you into signing their “petition”, there will be a kid (or many) ready to pickpocket you in the métro, in the Louvre or at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Every time you step outside, you have to activate that voice in your head which says “on guard!”
You don’t know it yet, but you will have done something wrong. Your concierge scolds you for leaving the building without a scarf… the lady in the café too because you didn’t put your umbrella in the right place… the boulanger as well because you didn’t realise it would just so happen that he would be having his coffee break at 11am when you popped by to get your daily pain au chocolat… Really, after just a few months, it’s enough to make you quite paranoid.
Men and women may have been created equal, but the baguette was most certainly not. Ask for “une tradition” every time. It is also perfectly acceptable to break off and eat the tip of the baguette on your way home. You’ll soon realise that it’s prudent to buy two baguettes instead.
The Bastille prison no longer exists. If you have erroneously found yourself confronted by the column bearing absolutely no link to the 1789 revolution, best just to cut your losses and head to the Marché d’Aligre, get a croissant from Le Blé Sucré or, depending on the time of day, any of the numerous bars and restaurants down by Ledru-Rollin.
Butter is about to become your best friend and the more butter the better. In much the same way as the tradition and the baguette, the “croissant au beurre” is far superior to the plain croissant. Point. Don’t even think about counting calories – you would need to invest in a hefty abacus.
Life gets easier once you accept that you’re going to have to say “bonjour.” To the shopkeeper as you walk in, to the neighbour you pass in the corridor, to every single colleague in the office when you arrive in the morning… in short, you should be saying bonjour to pretty much everyone you come across (apart from that lecherous guy on the street who’s about to hassle you.) For that matter, a quick “merci auvroir” as you’re leaving is good form too.
There’s just one thing that just won’t change. Everything closes for the August holidays. And there’s no getting around that.