There are certain things that visitors need to keep in mind when they visit France v. let's say Utica or NYC. And let's talk about Paris in particular. L&P and Momo, and ok, Mr. Momo too have observed some important little manners that will help you while you visit Paris. Help you in ways that avoid making an ass of yourself.
First, the escalator rule. Just like the driving rule. Right, right and right. Stay to the right unless you are passing. In traffic, or on the escalator, or say, the stairs. It is a good rule to follow because there are always those who are speedier than you and want to pass. If you are taking up the whole escalator, or more than the right lane in traffic, you will get squeezed, stepped on and watch out for the umbrella in the tush. That is, after you've ignored the excuser moi and pardons. Just remember, the ones who are in the biggest hurry are usually the little elderly ladies with sharp umbrella sticks. I beg you, stay to the right.
On the road, seriously, stay to the right unless you are passing. And good luck finding a lane, because most of the time, there are no lane markings. Drivers make them up. So stay to the right. And guess what? In most traffic circles, of which there is at least one on every third Rue, or equal to or more than the number of McDo's in Paris, the incoming traffic (from the right of course) has the right-of-way. So, say you are moving around the circle at Place Concorde, or at L'Arc, both of which are huge with spider webbed roads emerging from them, ALL the traffic entering the circle has the right-of-way into the circle, so for peets sake, if you are in the darn circle already, do not, and I repeat, do not cut them off. They will run you over as sure as you can pee in your pants. Seriously. Traffic customs are embedded like the right to fume here. Consider yourself warned! Oh, by the way, traffic signals, on the other hand, are merely voluntary. Or so it seems.
As in escalators, mind the stairwells too -as in anywhere, but particularly the Metro. Right right right. Unless you are passing. You will get a foot in your heel at some point if you do not obey this unwritten rule.
Tipping, while not always done here because a 15% gratuity is always included in your check - is always good to do if you have had, say, service. Not necessarily good service, but service. The range for tipping is typically a couple of extra Euros to more than a couple of Euros. Lots of tourists are told tipping isn't necessary because the gratuity is already included, however, watch what happens if you go back for another round and you did in fact leave a tip. They will undoubtedly remember you, and you will have decent service. If you did not tip, oh well. Better to go somewhere else.
Do not even think of entering a store, or the lobby of your hotel, the newsstand, pretty much anywhere without issuing a heartfelt Bonjour/Bon soir Madame/Monsieur. It is just what people do here. And don't forget when you leave to say Merci-au revoir, even if all you did was walk in and walk out.
L&P, like many tourists in Paris walk a great deal. Typically on the sidewalk which they share with tons of other people, many of them Parisians. They beg of you, do not, please, grin and smile at everyone. Parisians will think that something is wrong with you. The custom and polite thing to do is to keep your face neutral, nod if you must, but do not grin for peets sake. Really. All you will get in return is the most dour frown in the universe. That kind of frown even scares L&P.
Don't ask for a cup of coffee. Argh. That will get you some awful dark colored drek to drink. And never never ask for coffee with your food. Cafe is a course all by its lonesome. Ask for an express, a cafe creme, or a double express, or read the menu.
While we are talking about food, here is a little tidbit about bread. It will be served to you, but it often comes without butter. Try to enjoy it without butter if you can. Most French eat their bread plain. And many places serve the bread in a basket or on a plate, but you will probably not have a bread plate. Just rip your bread into pieces and put it on the table next to your plate if you want, crumbs and all. In many restaurants that aren't too fancy, you will see people sopping up the au jus or whatever the sauce is with their bread.
While we are talking about eating, you will notice that whenever you are out to eat that everyone who is French, ok, mostly everyone, will finish every last bite of every course. Food is not to be wasted and you don't have to act like you eat like a bird. Even little tiny women who could get lifted in a good breeze eat like truck drivers here. L&P hate this rule the most because there is usually little left over for them. That is why Momo always orders them their very own croissant. Lucky duckies.
A word about personal space. Don't count on it. Get used to people in your face. They will bump you walking by, bop you with that pointy umbrella, knock you sideways with their suitcase sized purse or briefcase. Momo has the bruises to show for it. Particularly protecting the space for L&P, both Mr. Momo and Momo have some battle scars. And boy, those 3 inch heels can do some damage when they meet the top of your foot - like Momo's too-large feet!
And be prepared for lines everywhere and everyone taking their own sweet time once it is their turn. At the grocery for example. No one would think to get their money ready to pay before the cashier has finished ringing up all the items. Then it is time to hunt for your wallet, rearrange your purse, and dig for change in the black hole of the purse bottom. Oh, and here the customer bags their own stuff. Don't even think that the cashier will do it. They may hand you some bags if you have gotten in the line that gives bags (be careful - if you are not in the line that offers bags, you will not get one under any circumstance). So then after paying, counting their change, putting it away in each little compartment, putting down their purse, then and only then do they begin to bag their stuff. It isn't necessary to bag while the cashier is ringing. Only crazy Americans like us do that. So not only will there be no space between you and the next person in line, but it will take longer to check-out than to shop for the food no matter when you go. This is true of any line like place anywhere, like say La Poste - remember that blog? It just is the way it is. Bring an ipod, bring a book. Heck, bring a chair.
There you have it. Part A - manners to remember while in Paris. L&P have no rating for manners because, well, they have just one. Sit. Ok two. They can wave hello and good bye. Momo rates manners as a big old chore. No significant digit is available for that one.
Two little Boston Terrier girls bring their Momo & Mr.Momo to Paris for a long stay. These are the tales of their very fine adventures.