There are a lot of heinous travel crimes one can commit in France. From eating your baguette the wrong way to ordering an extra hot cappuccino, it’s a minefield. Not to mention: there are also the faux pas of going to the shops on a Sunday (and expecting them to be open) and expecting assistance from a shop assistant.
But there’s one crime that’s worse than any of these awkward moments or interactions. That crime? Exhibiting any small sign that you might be enjoying yourself. On social media or otherwise.
We were alerted to this by a comedic skit by the popular Instagram account Parisian Snobiety.
The skit, which can be seen below, makes fun of tourists for, basically, enjoying themselves, and doing cliche Paris things.
The captions of the skit read:
People who visit Paris:
Bonjour from Paris. My Dream. Chanel and Louis Vuitton… are my favourite. Let’s get croissant. Give me a French garcon (boy). In the city of love. Do you remember the Notre Dame fire? So Sad! I’m Emily In Paris. Gracias.”
Though taken to absurd levels, the video skewers how many of us act while in the city of espresso and motorbikes.
Of course, you’d have to be a bit of a grinch to really be bothered by tourists enjoying themselves and trying (sometimes too hard) to blend in. Likewise, you’d have to be quite self-conscious to avoid enjoying many of these tourist rites of passage just because some Instagram account made fun of them.
The right balance is probably somewhere in the middle.
In fact, it might help you feel less self-conscious to know that there is actually a good reason for Parisians’ inclination to be suspicious of (or mocking towards) tourists’ showing their happiness.
As journalist Emily Monaco once wrote for the BBC, foreigners – especially Americans – often misread Parisians’ emotional detachment for resentment, when it is actually a cultural resting state: “If you’re too happy in French, we’re kind of wondering what’s wrong with you.”
Julie Barlow, a journalist and author, is quoted by the BBC as saying: “French people prefer to come across as kind of negative, by reflex.”
Another theory, by humorist David Sedaris, is that Paris’ perceived hostility isn’t complicated or even unique – it’s just down to a “big city mentality” found in all corners of the world – from New York to Sydney. That said, even he acknowledges that you would do well to be fearful of Parisian cashiers regardless.
“In Paris the cashiers sit rather than stand. They run your goods over a scanner, tally up the price, and then ask you for exact change,” (David Sedaris).
Bonne chance, people, bonne chance…