How to Act Like a Parisian in Paris

French people rarely wear berets...
Nobody is fooled when you walk around Paris with a huge camera slung around your neck while consulting your map every five seconds. We know you're lost, we know you don't belong. I'll be honest, tourists are treated differently in Paris – they're treated worse.

Here's a few steps to act like a Parisian during your stay in the French capital. Eventually French people will dumbfoundingly utter « Oh, t'es pas français ?! » (you're not French ?!).

Speak like a Parisian
Obviously the best way to be Parisian is to speak French, however to supplement your language, beauf, sympa, and putain are three words to add to your French vocabulary.

Beauf in French is the stereotypical, classless chump who watches football (soccer) everyday, drinks lots of beer and is culture-less. It's not a good thing to be a beauf – which is why Parisians love using the term because it heightens the speaker's own social standing. In fact, in Paris, beauf can be anyone you don't know or anything you don't particularity care for.

Sympa is a shortened form of the French word sympathique (which means nice). Parisians love the word because you can appreciate a person or thing without going overboard. Do you like the architecture? It's nice. Do you like the meal I just spent hours making? It's nice. Just nice? Yes, just nice. You see, Parisians cannot love anything, that's so anti-Parisian.

I lied… Parisians love photos by Doisneau or sneaking a peice of caramel au beurre salé, but I digress.

You'll hear putain while walking the streets of Paris as well as between friends. The word putain is a magical interjection that spans from cussing out someone on the street to showing sympathy for a friend and everything in between. Although the word literally means "whore" it often is not connotated as such.

« Putain mais chuis sérieux »

« Il a trompé sa femme… »
« Putain ! »

Besides using those three words, Parisians incorporate A LOT of English into their everyday speech. Only the cool Parisians are so in-tune with the world that they speak English.

Café Culture + Apéro
Apéritif is somewhere between 17h00 and 21h00
Did you ever notice why restaurants don't serve food around 6PM, or why French people are seen eating their dinner at 8, 9, or even 10PM?

Apéritif is the wonderful time of day when you sit down with your friends over Campari and discuss how much you hate Republicans. Nothing is more French, more Parisian, than sitting outside a café on a nice day and snacking away to hold you over until dinner. Nothing.

But how do I go about enjoying France's café culture?

The first step is to find a good café or brasserie. You want an authentic French place which does not try to cater to tourists otherwise you'll be charged more money for poor service and lower quality food (most tourists don't know what to expect in France, so they exploit you). Avoid restaurants which are right next to tourist traps as well as those which display their menus in several different languages. The easiest way to find a decent place is to find a place that already has many people seated.

When you find a café or restaurant simply sit where you want (preferably outside if it's a nice day) and the waiter will eventually ask what you'd like. Order a drink, enjoy the olives and pop open a nice book or converse with someone.

BONUS: When you're sitting outside at your café, have a copy of Le Monde folded up besides you. Although Parisians never have time to read it, it's universally accepted as good journalism. Congratulations, now you're sophisticated.

Dress Like a Parisian
While writing this, five out of eight French people who passed me by were wearing converse.

France is Awesome

I'm in France! I spent two weeks at my uncle's place in Marolles-en-Brie, France (~20km from Paris). I opened a French bank account with BNP Parisbas, bought some apartment essentials (30-inch flat screen, microwave, dishes), got my carte jeune for the train and then headed down to Besançon to visit my cousin.
One of the two rooms in my apartment :)

Once I arrived in my city, Bourg-en-Bresse, I was reminded of how joyous it was to be in a small French city. Bourg-en-Bresse reminds me of a compact Besançon. I found a beautiful apartment au centre-ville, subscribed to a local gym and squared off paying for my electricity, internet, TV, and mobile services. Phew!

Despite accomplishing so much in my new city, my job wasn't complete until I found some cool French people to hang around with. I did not know one single person in Bourg-en-Bresse. That had to change.

It was intimidating at first to go up to groups of people in bars and try to join them however as my Saturday night progressed I became a pro. The one secret to making friends in France: say you're American (more specifically from a well-known city such as New York). It was surprising to see a lot of French people sporting American flag tee shirts, hats, or shoes which practically invited me to open up a conversation. I kid you not; being an American with good French allows you to meet a myriad of interesting people. I followed my new French friends out of the local pub to a nightclub. There, they willingly spent top euro for VIP seating and an onslaught of alcoholic drinks. Vodka, shots, all paired with red bull, I watched helplessly as a French comrade threw up all over the club's counter then proceed to dish out high fives. The dance floor was epic: the smoke machine, the lights, the DJ. I sang along to my favorite club songs (in English) and look like a boss doing so.

We didn't stop partying until 5AM, when the club closed. Putain c'était un soir très agréable.

Yesterday we followed up our night of mischief by heading to an outdoor party. I'll keep you guys posted, for the time being and there's just too many things to do.

Upcoming destinations:
Lyon, France (September 4th/5th, 2014)
Dijon, France (September 6th - see my cousin)
Paris, France (September 8th - September 12th)
Geneva, Switzerland (???)
Barcelona, Spain (???)

Travel Log, August 2014

Salut FrenchCrazyites!

Greetings from New York & Montrėal!

I'll be rolling out some new articles soon considering my layover is about 6 hours long. My hiatus was due to studying for a chemistry final as well as preparing to go to France. Today I'm on my way to CDG; then I shall spend some time catching up my family and friends before relocating to my apartment in Bourg-en-Bresse.

I wish you all the best luck with your French studies. If you're in the Lyon area within the next year and would like to meet me then email me at or message the FrenchCrazy Facebook page. I love meeting my readers in person.


John Elkhoury

The Neurological Advantages of Knowing a Second Language

The advantages of bilingualism spans beyond the ability to speak another language; most people fail to see this. Bialystok found that older bilinguals living in Canada were able to stave off the onset of dementia for 4.1 years. 4.1 years! Essentially, bilinguals are able to keep their mind sharper and younger than their monolingual counterparts.

Why is this?

Think about it; bilinguals rarely speak the wrong language to the wrong person. Through cognate research, we now know that when you have two languages, both of them are always online (active)!

Unimodal bilinguals need to constantly suppress and control which language they're using. A lifetime of doing this actually helps children and adults perform better on a range of tasks related to executive functioning and attentional control. Not only that, Bilinguals also show better metalinguistic skills and if you learn a language soon enough then you are able to distinguish more phonetic contrasts (which helps improves pronunciation). But that's not all, according to Erica Hoff (2012):
Some findings have suggested that living in bilingual environments fosters children's development of the ability to understand the intentions and knowledge of others (Akhtar & Menjivar, 2012).
That's pretty cool right? I doubt you've ever considered helping your brain when you signed up for French or Spanish in high school. So, the moral of the story: it's not too late to learn a language and benefit from the increased stimulation your brain receives. Go practice your French right now!

Additional References:
Akhtar & Menjivar, 2012; Bialystok, 2005, 2009; Bialystok & Feng, 2011; Bialystok, Craik, & Freedman, 2007; Wodniecka, Craik, Luo, & Bialystok, 2010.

Cheaply Visit and Travel to France

How to Travel to France Cheaply
The best way to practice your French and experience French culture is to venture abroad and see the beautiful country in person. However I've heard of people who spent THOUSANDS to visit France for a meager 7 to 10 day period. Ridiculous.

Here's how to travel cheaply to the land of cheese and wine. Keep in mind, I've been going to France every year since 2009 for a month or two at a time. It's more affordable than you think.

Bring a Friend or Companion
A cost effective way to save money is by sharing the experiences as well as the expenses. Although bringing a friend won't save you money on airfare or train tickets it does diminish the costs of lodging and food. Not to mention, you'll have a companion to always be there and take all of your goofy Facebook photos.

Cheap, Affordable Lodging is Easy
Stop dishing out hundreds on hotel prices! Couchsurfing, lets you crash at a person's home for free and it's a great way to save money while making a few new friends. If you're not that adventurous then you could rent a room or an apartment at airbnb for prices that embarrass hotels. Likewise use trivago, priceline, expedia, or kayak to compare hotel and hostel prices for the lowest rate. The price of a hostel is great for younger people; you might have to share a room, but you'll save.

Another way to stay in France is by exchanging your house or finding a job as an aupair for a pre-determined amount of time.

Make French Friends
One of the easiest ways to save money is to befriend locals and never be afraid to ask for help or information. If you don't have a set itinerary for the day then ask some natives what are some good, cheap ways to have fun in the area.

10 French Movies You Should See

Here are the top 10 French movies you must see at least once. All the movies are in French but subtitled versions exist if needed.

Let's kickstart our list with #10 and move down the line from there. Here is a YouTube playlist with all of the trailers, in order. Below this,  movie descriptions are presented mashing up my personal comments and the IMDB summary.

10. Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain IMDB: 8.5 )
This quirky movies follows the beloved Audrey Tautou as Amélie, a Parisian girl who finds love yet has difficulty getting along with others. The movie has a few unexpected twists and turns and is very popular with anglophones.

9. Le dîner de consIMDB: 7.7 )
Each week, Pierre and his friends organize what is called as "un dîner de cons". Everyone brings the dumbest guy he could find as a guest. Pierre thinks his champ -François Pignon- will steal the show. However after a series of events, things don't wind up going as planned.

8. La Môme (La Vie en Rose) IMDB: 7.7 )
This film follows the difficult life of revered French singer, Edith Piaf. Although condensing such an incredible life in 140 minutes is difficult, what they do include is substantial. Lastly Marion Cotillard does an excellent job acting.

7. Entre les mûrs (The Class)IMDB: 7.5 )
Teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood.

6. À la folie... pas du tout ! (He Loves me, He loves me not) (IMDB: 7.3 )
"A young woman who is in love with a married doctor becomes dangerous when her attempts to persuade him to leave his wife are unsuccessful. However, when things are seen from his point of view, the real situation becomes clear."

You may not see the ending coming ;)