She’s Parisian, which is to say she’s melancholy. Her mood responds to the changing colours of her city. She can feel a sudden surge of sorrow or even hope for no reason at all. In the blink of an eye, all those lost memories and smells come flooding back, reminding her of loved ones who are no longer there. And time passing by.
– Anne Berest, How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are
Before leaving for Paris last summer, I was obsessed with figuring out how to blend into the Paris scene—or, in other words, how to not look like the tourist that I indeed was! My efforts were mostly focused on clothes and style and were inspired almost completely by the entertaining read, How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits. I learned to wear lots of black and navy and beige, and to pair scarves with my outfits. I cut the blonde dye out of my hair (because hair should only be dyed its natural color) and vowed to find “my” perfume (because one must find one’s scent before turning 30). I wanted desperately to look/smell/act the part of the melancholy, effortlessly-beautiful Parisienne that I knew was hiding inside of me… somewhere.
Since arriving in Paris, however, I’ve learned that blending in goes much further than the clothes you choose to wear and the perfume that graces your neck and wrists. And, the reasons for wanting to blend in at all go much deeper than wanting to prove to yourself (or others) that you aren’t a “tourist” in the derogatory sense of the word.
My second piece written for the women’s travel website, Pink Pangea, touches on a few of the ways I’ve learned to dress, speak, and carry myself after living in Gay Paris for the last 5 months. These tips, while only the tip of the Parisian iceberg, are a good place to start when considering how to blend in as a safe, respectful, and conscientious traveler in this iconic city. Below, you’ll find a brief introduction, but you can check out the full article here!
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I’ve just arrived in Paris. A boat swarming with photo-happy tourists passes as I relax on the banks of the River Seine. And I think to myself, look as Parisian as possible—whatever that means. I purse my lips and gaze pensively out over the water and my new city as if I’m deep in thought about something only Parisians can understand. I am nonchalant, poised, glamourous. Some people on the boat wave. I do not wave back, and I feel the pride well up inside as the boat glides by and the cameras flash: my Parisian self, immortalized. I am blending in.