welcomes Karen Fawcett -- an American travel journalist
who has been in love with Paris since the age
of 13. She writes...
As an unofficial
sociologist who has passed more time than she
cares to admit trying to ascertain real Parisians
from people who happen to be passing through,
I have come up with a partial and totally subjective
list of ways for a woman to avoid having that
"just off the plane look."
noise, no gum...
First and foremost,
the sound of one's voice can be the biggest give-away.
Whether or not you are a fluent French speaker,
your voice to a near whisper. French natives (and
this is more true in Paris than in the provinces)
generally do not scream -- even when they are angry.
Yes they laugh. But rarely do you hear shrieks.
don't believe me, go into any restaurant and the
voices you'll hear will be those of Americans, Germans
and Brits. The theory that the louder you talk,
the better you will be understood is false. More
often than not, when you yell, the person whose
attention you are trying to attract will ignore
you if at all possible.
is chewing gum. Better to smoke a cigarette than
look like a cow masticating on its cud. And, even
if you hate cigarettes with a passion, cool your
hatred in Paris. If you find yourself sitting next
to smokers (and let's face it, most of France falls
into the category of "smoking section"), don't make
a scene. Adapt to the country's customs and hope
that you will not suffer an overdose of secondary
black, black, black...
What to wear
is one of the most frequently asked questions. Couture
designers may not like this response since they
might be pushing pink and chartreuse in this year's
collection, but the reality is that most chic French
stick to black and occasionally make small deviations
to navy and brown. Beige and white are frequently
seen during the few summer days when the thermometer
sores over 80 degrees. But no matter the temperature,
black is always safe.
observation: whatever hem lines are being shown
in the fashion magazines, French women frequently
opt to wear very tight black skirts. If it is during
the winter, they wear black stockings to enhance
that thin and sexy look. Once May day comes, most
women go bare-legged.
yes! Nikes, no! ...
When it comes
to packing, going with black will save you a lot
of time and energy.The French are pros when it comes
to making few clothes go
far, and accessorize their outfits with such aplomb
that most Americans cannot believe their talent.
Scarves and shawls are always in; if in doubt as
how to get them stay on with that mystical French
chic and style, go to Hermes where there is a salesperson
who does nothing else but demonstrate how to wear
scarves in the hope that you might succumb and buy
one of theirs as your reminder of your trip to Paris
-- which is not such a bad idea. If you were unable
to master the scarf tying method, you can always
use one of Hermes' scarves as a work of art to hang
on your wall.
women are often seen wearing capes, and during winter
months, will wear politically incorrect furs --
especially in the more exclusive quartiers (neighborhoods)
the ubiquitous debate over chic or comfortable.
Yes, some French people do wear Nikes, but they
are in the minority. About the only time most French
people wear such shoes is when they're jogging or
working in the garden. No one walks to work in track
shoes and then changes into high heels, as in New
York. Chic French women seem to feel high heels
are mandatory even when they are wearing jeans.
of advice: Please avoid wearing what North Americans
know and love as warm-up suits. Again, the French
confine these articles of clothes to workouts at
the gym but wouldn't be caught dead wearing them
out and about.
about make-up, too many guidebooks and dog doo-doo..