Considering myself a ‘real Parisian’, yet frequently still needing a map to get around, I think I’m the perfect person to compile this list!
10. Visiting the Louvre. Yes, there’s a queue half a mile long (don’t go on a Saturday morning then!) and a mass of people six feet thick putting their elbow in your ear to see the Mona Lisa, which looks better in the posters they sell in the shop. Oh, and the signs warning about pickpockets aren’t ideal for the atmosphere either… On the other hand, there is some amazing art here: my favourite section is the much calmer, quieter, less frequented yet equally stunning sculpture section, particularly the Cour Marly and Cour Puget in the Richelieu wing.
9. Walking down the street with a baguette tucked under your arm or sticking out of your bag. Yes, it looks like something out of an advert, but how else do you propose to carry it?!
8. Stopping to gaze at the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Trocadéro gardens, in front of the Palais de Chaillot. I can take or leave old Eiffley from directly below, but from there it’s pretty stunning. I must have made it into a lot of people’s holiday photos just by standing there staring.
7. Doing your shopping at an outdoor market. I write tips for holidaymakers on a daily basis, and am forever raving about the joys of markets, so you’d’ve thought I’d be a bit jaded by now. But I do still love the whole thing of asking the greengrocers to hand you something and getting the fromager to cut a slice just the size you want… And always end up buying something unexpected and lingering by the olives and nuts in the hope of a taster or two…
6. Angelina. It’s got a queue even longer than Betty’s in York, and as such I’ve still never been in the tea room. But have you seen their cakes?! And they have different-sized boxes for each one, so it doesn’t slide about! And as for the hot chocolate…
5. Browsing the ‘bouquinistes’ along the Seine. They may have a load of rubbish, but there’s some good stuff in there too, and everyone loves a root through old books.
4. The falafel from the rue des Rosiers. I’m not entering into the debate over which is the best (although the ones that include a slice of aubergine get bonus points from me), and once again there is queuing involved. On the other hand, this is a pitta so stuffed full that you need to use a fork to dismantle it to eat it!
3. Dunking your breakfast in a bowl of coffee. (OK, this is actually more of a general French cliché, but still…) Sounds so wrong, but tastes so good… Particularly good with jammy toast (I know, I know! I was sceptical, but my 71-year-old landlady does it, and she can’t be wrong!)
2. Walking and/or cycling along the Seine. Not always the quickest route, but seriously, just stop, go half way across that bridge and LOOK. And smile.
1. Wearing a beret. Particularly when combined with any of the above. It just makes everything so much more… well, Parisian!