Bonjour Smiley


August 13, 2005

Destination: France 

Last night in Paris I received a shocking diagnosis.

It all began when The Frenchman and I went to see a band at La Scene in Bastille.

All was going well, we had enjoyed a lovely meal of fishy salads and white wine on the Avenue Ledru Rollin and were standing in the smoky hot bar bouncing sheepishly to the funky-jazzy music when nature knocked. An experienced publoo- goer, naturally I checked for paper first and, to my unsurprise, found none. So I did what any damsel in dack-stress would do - poked my head out and asked the guy standing at the basin fiddling with his overly pristine jeans if there was any paper in the little boys and if so, could he please pass me some.

He looked at me, looked in the men's, looked back at me and replied, "No, sorry, zere eez non zere eizer".


I was taken aback. After a year living in Paris I was under the assumption I sounded pretty French. I mean I could even do the epiglottal rrrr thing. People sometimes ask me for directions and I say I don't know in a very French way. I pout my lazy little Australian lips up, cock my head and sigh a lot. I had even recently acquired the distinctly Parisian habit of saying "oui" on an in-breath and had finally mastered the agonising art of pronouncing infuriating French phrases containing no consonants such as "en haut" (upstairs) pronounced "ohaw". I sometimes put "quoi" at the end of sentences, which is a very, very cool Parisian thing to do, AND I had figured out that "ben" not only referred to the little boy next door but could be pronounced "ba" and used as follows: "Bon ben ecoute, cheri!" "Ben oui!" "Ben c'est pas possible!" Etcetera.

BUT NO, here was a bloke wearing ironed jeans smiling at me and looking eager to practise his English. (This is common in Paris at the moment, English is finally cool and everyone, especially young hipsters like jeans man want to try out their Anglais on unwilling foreigners.) But seriously. I was no ANGLOPHONE. And I'm supposed to be an ACTOR.

How was it so obvious? I decided to confront him before I faced the unavoidable dripdry."

But how did you know I wasn't French?" He laughed, checking his perfect teeth in the mirror for poppy seeds."

Le sourire," he said, turning to face me and, punctuating the remark with a look a la Zoolander Blue Steel, was gone.

Le sourire? What has my smile got to do with it? French people smile. Why does smiling give me away as an Anglophone?

Back at the bar when I recounted the story to The Frenchman he laughed and said, "Yes that's right, you have a smile in your voice."

A smile in the voice.

My heart sank. I felt like I'd been diagnosed with some sort of incurable disease.

Smile in the Voice. Category 1. Technical name: Sourire dans la Voix. Characteristics: attacks Central Language System, leading to Uncontrollable Cheerful Manner of Speech (UCMS).

Hereditary. Culturally specific.

Most prevalent in Australians, antipodeans. Symptoms: delusional behaviour, lilting tones, singsong manner, general warmth, involuntary kindness. Course of treatment: incurable, but over a course of time living in France, symptoms may improve slightly.

I was devastated. I had never suspected that all this time I had been walking around with a big sign MERRY FOREIGNER on my head. For goodness sake, I had little painted red Simone de Beauvoir fingernails. I rode a bike with a basket on the front.

I walked the streets with a mastered look of "moi?", nonchalance that had taken months of practice. I made a point of never marvelling at beautiful buildings in public. I thought my secret was so well disguised.

Alas no.

I turned and glared menacingly at The Frenchman who had been keeping the bad news from me all this time. To "protect me" I suppose."

A smile in the voice is not serious," he whispered, trying to comfort me."

Well I want to get rid of it!" I shouted and stormed out of the bar to many curious looks and ooh la las.

On the way home as we walked in the wet down the black and starry post-rain Canal St Martin, dodging crowds of people spilling out onto the narrow streets at closing time, I demanded The Frenchman help cure me of this terrible condition. After I had said "bonjour" and "au revoir" at least 80 times he was exhausted."

I'm sorry, but no matter how low you make your voice or how arrogant you sound, the smile is still there."

Noooo. Bonjour. Bonjour, madame. BON JOUR, MADAME."

No even when you sound very, very angry you still have the little smile."

I couldn't believe I had been walking around this whole time with a disorder that everyone else could see but I couldn't. I felt naked. Schizophrenic.

Misunderstood. And no matter how hard I tried I could not iron the bloody Australian out of me.

"I like the smile," said The Frenchman.

Really? That was a nice thing to say. But how extremely irritating to have something built into you that you can't control such as a smile in the voice. I might as well be The Joker from Batman. Smile girl, forever stuck. I would like to CHOOSE to smile when I speak to the nice man at Mauri Sept on Faubourg St Denis or the lovely lady at Le Bucheron or the little man in the fruit shop who gives me pretty cherries to eat while I wait in the queue.

But what if I don't WANT to smile? Why can't I fit in like any other normal French person?

As I began to wail, The Frenchman said, "See even when you throw a tantrum you have a smile in your voice."


Try and speak flatter. You have too much interest in your voice. Think like you don't care."

Like I don't care.

Pensively, I tried to elegantly skim a stone over the glossy black canal as I turned this thought over in my mind but the stone just made a heavy plonk and sank. And that's when the euro-cent dropped inside the merry slot machine that is my brain. I do care.

That's the problem. I am eager.

Intrinsically. I am Australian.

And that's how I learnt to accept my smile. I had forgotten how glad I was to be a little Aussie and to have a permanent grin stitched into my voice-box. Then and there I decided to take my smiling disorder and despite the difficulties, make the most of it.

I don't mind any more that people know I'm not French.

When they try to speak English with me I will smilingly say "Ben ecoute rrrrrrrrr baguette baguette quoi?" I am a smiler. And I'm proud. Je m'appelle Jayne.

Jayne Tuttle is a Melbourne actor and writer studying in Paris.

The Burnt Baguette

The Burnt Baguette

First published in The Age/Sydney Morning Herald newspapers (Australia) July 2, 2005

WE ALL know the creme brulee that is Paris can be tough to crack, but if you have a desire to taste what lies below that shiny top layer, here is what I have found to be the cardinal rule:

The Lady in the Boulangerie is Not your Friend.

Master this simple philosophy and Paris is pate in your hand.

Arriving last year in the City of Light, I felt exhilarated by my surroundings but quite alienated by the locals. Nowhere was this more apparent than at the local boulangerie. The one on the corner of my street screams heaven, with glistening arrays of glutinous glories and the divine smell of wafting of fresh bread. Of course, the first thing I want to do after settling into my new shoebox apartment is walk down the street with my very first baguette, wearing a headscarf.

In the queue, I listen intently to the frogs up front. It seems rude the way they say "donnez-moi" (give me), but their lilting tone seems to make the abruptness acceptable. "Donnez-moi une baguette." Breadsticks we call them at home. "Be a love and run down the shop and grab a breadstick for the barbie," mum would say. Our breadsticks have seeds on top. We slice them with a serrated knife, slather the pieces in Meadow Lea and stick them on our plate next to the banger and foil-wrapped spud. In cross-section they are keyhole shaped and they sometimes come wrapped in plastic with little airholes.

"Une baguette, s'il vous plait," says the suited man up front.

"Quatre-vingt cinq centimes monsieur; merci monsieur, au revoir," smiles the boulangerie lady as suit man disappears.

"Une baguette et une religieuse, s'il vous plait," says the pretty lady. How can she eat cream buns and stay so thin?

"Trois euros trente, s'il vous plait, mademoiselle."

I love Paris. The morning sun is glowing me golden with buttery bakery goodness. The baguettes look so good, I can't wait to take my Vegemite to one and make it mine, all mine.

It's my turn.

I smile warmly, engaging with the plump, pinafored dame who is just like Joan from the school canteen. In my best French, I politely say, "Bonjour, Madame," (apparently you should always call them Madame or Monsieur otherwise you are rude), "Je voudrais une baguette, s'il vous plait."

She looks at me a moment. Pauses. Then turns to the obedient dough boys lined behind her. However, rather than choosing an eager kid from up front begging to be on the team, she marches like a principal down the line and reaches behind the basket to pull out a crusty old history teacher - bitter, dried-out, overdone. The one who should have retired decades ago.

"Quatre-vingt cinq," she says, nasal, bored.

I am shocked. Is she serious? I'm stumped. I have neither language skills nor guts to deal with this. All I can do is moronically take Professor Crusty, thank Jeanne-Francoise, pay and leave. Walking down the street clutching my shame, people stare and point, leaning from balconies laughing, "Ha! Touriste! Loser! Vite Benoit! Come look at loser burnt-baguette girl in the cheap headscarf."

Back at chez shoe, I'm so hungry I attempt to break the log against a bedpost, jarring my wrist. If only dad was here. He loves things overcooked. Mum always makes him a special batch of choc-chip bickies - deliberately burnt. Great, now I'm homesick. The incident replays over and over in my head. What did I do wrong? How could she be so mean when I was so nice? Smeared with enough butter and Veg, anything tastes good, but this bad boy just won't digest. Tomorrow I shall try harder, I resolve.


My extra efforts most certainly have no effect, in fact the reverse, and the next day my baguette is even worse. It's not even straight. I'm sure they prepared it especially.

I try visiting at a different time but the afternoon lady is even meaner. I try other boulangeries but encounter the same frostiness and baseball-bat bread. It's clear my photo is sticky-taped out the back of every Paris bakery like some sort of custard criminal.

Why am I being subjected to such torture? Why do they hate me so much? I'm so nice!

In the following weeks, I learn that in fact the nicer I am, the nastier the baguette. For example, if one were to plot a graph of charm versus baguette success, the result would look like this.

That is to say, as friendliness rises, so does baguette horrendousness.

After weeks of this treatment, stomach complaints and a minor vocabulary improvement, I've had it. I awake thundery day x, throw back the sheets, toss aside the ridiculous sausage pillow, flex, rehearse and march down to that dang bread shop to say in very average French words to the effect of:

"G'day. A baguette thanks. And none of this pretzel business, gimme the cream of the crop. That one. No. THAT ONE. And no more nonsense. Wench." Actually I didn't say wench, but had I known how I probably would have.

Jeanne-Francoise, who at first I had wanted to take me in her arms and rock back and forth while she prepares my lunch order, stops. She beholds me a moment. Then the heavens seem to clear, as she breaks into an enormous, warm grin and laughs. Still laughing, she turns in slow motion and selects the dux of baguettes, lovingly wraps it and hands it to me like a prize. When she says "Quatre-vingt cinq," she has the voice of an angel.

And so it was. I. Was in.

This is the lesson of the burnt baguette.

Be nice and eat charcoal for the rest of your life.

The French love to test your mettle. They play jokes and love to use their centuries-old rules of conduct and protocol to exclude foreigners. Watch the film Ridicule and you'll understand French culture from now going back centuries. It's great to travel being an Australian: everyone loves you. But in the court of Versailles, "love me, I'm just a little Aussie" just wouldn't cut the moutard. You'd be beaten to death with a dry breadstick. A keen wit is gold in Paris. Don't be nice, be direct and ye shall receive.

Jayne Tuttle is a Melbourne actor and writer studying drama at l'Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Paris. This is the first of a series of columns from Australians living in overseas cities.

Life On the Big M

Life on the big M


Jayne Tuttle finds that the Underground movement is still strong in Paris.

I run and jump into the carriage as the buzzer sounds, even though there is no need for such haste. On Paris Pink Line 7, trains come every two minutes at this time of the day. But two minutes can be a long time to spend at Chatelet Metro station, especially when it's stinking hot, the station is packed and next to you is a lady screaming blue murder at a man on a bench. And there is no man on the bench.

Doors bang shut. I am greeted by a sticky, well­dressed, human mass. I can smell at least five different types of body odour ­ light and fruity, tangy, rich, aged, fennec. I don't really know what a fennec is but when The Frenchman has ridden his bike to my place in the sun and whiffs under his arms, he says, "Whoo, smell the fennec." Apparently it's a small desert animal. Perhaps it's like my brother's lynx. I squeeze my way through the bodies, saying pardon, pardon, to my favourite Metro position; back pressed against the opposite doors like a Garfield suction toy, avoiding with all possible might the terrifying prospect of touching the greasy metal pole 2000 salty Parisians have slid their buttery mitts over. Off we go, whoops, pardon monsieur, I trip on a tourist­looking man, oop­la. I love the Metro. What would Paris be without it? You're never late. It's reliable. It has wheels. If I can't ride my bike, one of my favourite "discover Paris" pastimes is:

1. Jump on Metro.

2. Jump off at random station with interesting­sounding name.

3. Get lost.

4. Find nearest Metro stop.

5. Repeat.

Stations have their own character and design. Some are classy and pristine with curly art­nouveau exits, some are plain and stinky. The worst, such as Opera and Les Halles, have unidentifiable liquids leaking from the walls, suspicious puddles everywhere and a stench so strong I have to hold my breath and think of flowers. Whereas at sparkling Louvre­Rivoli I could happily host a dinner party wearing stilettos and a ballgown. Bonne Nouvelle has happy writing, Abbesses is so deep it's like descending into an arty, crumbling mine shaft, Arts et Metiers has cool copper signs with rivets. But my favourite station is Palais Royale, with a colourful gazebo entrance like a bejewelled sea urchin and a built­in wiggly bench that is fun for a little sit.

The Metro is great. The only problem is the rush­hour squish factor. Uh­oh. There is a man pressing up against my side and I fear it is another Papie Frotteur. Last time I had an older gent press himself up against my leg, I was so distracted by the creepy sensation that I didn't notice him pinching my mobile phone. But then at least he had a goal. I would prefer that to your standard Frotteur, the man who stands just that bit too close with a disturbing expression on his face, a phenomenon that can only occur in overcrowded city transport. You feel trapped, there is nothing to do but stand, breathe, and go to your happy place.

"Mademoiselle?", I am startled from my Bestest Ever Australian Actress in a Best­Ever Foreign Film Oscar moment by the sweet voice of an unbelievable­looking Frenchwoman. She is pointing at my feet, where, in my slipperiness, I have dropped my carte orange (the coveted and oft­stolen monthly trainticket). I awkwardly squat down to pick it up. She called me mademoiselle. I have started getting madamed and am not much enjoying it. Usually it depends on if my hair is up or down; today it's up and I got mademoiselle. Quelle treat. To add to the joy, the Frotteur has shimmied towards the stunner and I breathe a sigh of relief, then quickly feel bad for her. I hope she has a good imagination.

There are a few seedy characters to be found on the Metro. If Le Frotteur is eerily gentle, a more rough­love train buddy is the Le Turnstile Jumper, the friendly fellow who, as you are taking your carte orange from the slot, will bang suddenly up behind you, taking your breath away, and squish through the gate, attached to your rear as though you two have become one. Some Jumpers are polite and ask before they violate. Others just ram you and leave you in a state of bewilderment as they tear off, dodging the ticket inspectors to take the final seat on your carriage.

But today there is no seating left to even fight over. As I ponder the pros and cons of fare evasion and wonder what Ms is in French, the train pulls to a halt at Pyramides and, thankfully, a whole heap of people jump off.

Relief. I can breathe again.

A busker hops on with a rusty trumpet and a set of speakers on a trolley. He has an enormous black beard and is wearing patchwork jeans. The tourist-­looking man and his young blond son stand shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot as the busker starts playing his trumpet in their direction and dancing weirdly. He presses play on his stereo but it doesn't work and he kicks it and continues playing. He turns to blow the instrument towards me and I try to look away but it's a relief to have at least some air flow in here and now I'm smiling because he's funny and it's too late I'm going to have to give him the 56 cents kicking around in my pocket collected for such occasions.

I love the buskers. At Chatelet, where a lot of tunnels meet, there is a space where fantastic bands play. They are actually paid to be there. I sometimes plonk on the stairs among the passing ankles and listen. They often sell CDs but I never buy one. The good musicians are lovely but, most of all, I love the bad ones. The Metro tunnels and carriages are teeming with them. Then there are the absolute shockers, either completely oblivious, or going for the sympathy vote. They're my favourites. I often pay them. Especially the ones that have portable speakers and tacky electronic beat machines to which they attach their microphones and sing top­40 hits in various languages with gusto.

At Chaussee D'Antin, a huge swell of Galeries Lafayette shoppers fresh from the summer soldes removes any relief the last exodus of passengers bought. They natter excitedly about their bargain purchases, clasping copious bags of all different colours and I consider jumping off to go on a mad spree. Anything to breathe again. Alas, the familiar "BEEEEP" and the doors are shut, with me up to my eyeballs in shiny cardboard and strong perfume. The tourist­looking man and his son assume a new position closer to me and I notice the older one is dressed strikingly like my dad.


What would the Big Man be doing right now? Taking the dog for a walk along the beach? Watching the footy replay? Playing canasta with nan eating Violet Crumble? Chatting to Milly across the fence about the weather, holding a VB in a Great Barrier Reef stubby holder?

I suddenly feel very far from home. Especially as the busker is now beefing out a loud baritone version of Non, Je ne Regrette Rien and the supermodel just whacked the Frotteur with her handbag. In this carriage filled with Paris sweat, baguettes banging legs and the sound of French chatter, Australia feels another world away.

But it is uncanny how much this guy does resemble my dad. He couldn't possibly be French, in an unpretentious pair of stonewash jeans, sneakers and a baggy jumper with some sort of hardware logo on it. I feel an inexplicable surge of affection rise inside of me.

The bearded busker exits with his jingly cup at Le Peletier and the tourist­looking man turns fully around to face me, relieved.

I suddenly realise that the man's jumper, which looks like one of the ones dad would get free with 10 lengths of plywood, reads something like "Tools Australia". My suspicion is confirmed. Before I have time to think, I have already blurted out, "Hey, are you Australian?"

"Ye­eah," replies the man, with a pleasantly thick accent.

I suddenly feel like I've been pulled out of an enormous, sticky croissant and teleported Tardis­like to the middle of a good old Aussie backyard. This man is my motherland. I am aware I have only three stops until I have to get off and my mouth moves faster than the train.

"Why are you in Paris which area are you staying in do you like it what have you seen where have you been how long are you here where are you from in Australia?"

"Melbourne", he says. No way! Whereabouts?

Turns out the guy's from the street around the corner from where I grew up. The little blond kid goes to the same primary school I went to and knows my brother.

And as we hurtle hot and stifled through the subterrain of France's capital, I am standing by the barbie, cup of Fruity Lexia in one hand, Cheezels on each finger of the other, discussing the finer details of brackets, power drills and do­it­yourself.

Another happy place.

But oh too prematurely I am jolted back to the here and now by the familiar swing of tracks as the train pulls in to Gare de L'Est. Before I can shout "say hi to dad for me", the doors slam shut and my friends fly away to their home in the sky. Or Montmartre, where I think they said they were staying. I wave for a second then decide not to get nostalgic over two people I spent precisely four minutes with. The train has bolted anyway. The familiar bustle and smell of my home station greets me, as do the bare buttocks of a man as he graffitis the wall with his own personal spraycan. I resist the urge to deal them a swift backhand and climb up the 63 steps to the tabac, where the nice man calls me "mademoiselle". When I finally appear out of the little Metro mole hole into the fresh air, the sun is shining. And I am in Paris.

Tourist? Moi?

By Jayne Tuttle, 



Destination: France 

Jayne Tuttle has 30 ways to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Paris is like any other city: go incognito and experience the best of it. However, in a city such as Paris, this is not easy. There is basically a whole city set up to ensnare we naive, wide-eyed, traveller's-cheque-bearing bumbag wearers. So here's a few tips that might stop you from falling into the Paris Minefield for Tourists, or PMT, and the crabbiness that can ensue; a few things nobody ever told me before I landed my sorry backpack in the city of light all those years ago. Essentially, how to act like a Parisian and not get caught.

1. Do not wear a bumbag. Unless well hidden or teamed with entire designer multipocket-chic look, this is a certain tourist giveaway. You might as well wear your camera around your neck.

2. Dress nice. Don't be afraid to look pretty, ladies, and men too. Shine your shoes, iron your jeans. Blokes, feel comfortable wearing pink - perfectly acceptable hetero attire. Classic. Crisp, clean polo shirt and neat pants make you look much more French than grunge, which only a serious French professional can pull off. Wear scarves, accessorise.

3. Do not do sport. Someone jogging along the Seine? Nine times out of 10, tourist. Beware of sportswear; also must be tastefully articulated. If necessary, try accentuating with scarf or clean pink polo shirt.

4. Always look as if you know where you're going. Look straight ahead. Maps are a big no-no. If you must look at a map, try standing in a well-lit area, leave map in bag, fossick around until you find right page, strain eyes, find street. You may feel stupid but people will think you're just a Parisian looking for your cigarettes.

5. Never marvel at beautiful buildings. You live here. You have seen it all before. If you must gawk, wait until nobody's looking. But then there is always somebody in the street, the place is so overpopulated, so just learn not to marvel. You could walk slowly but deliberately past, darting your eyes periodically at the stunning architecture as if you've forgotten something or just had a brainwave about how to marinate tonight's coq au vin. Or stop to tie up your shoelace and stare seemingly into space while getting a good captain cook.

6. Look serious. Don't smile at people unwillingly. Parisians are exceedingly friendly and warm but don't see the point in false kindness and gushiness. Just order your baguette politely and say "merci, madame". They don't care that you come from Alabama and it's your first time ordering a brioche and that you just lurrrve Paris.

7. Speak quietly. It's interesting to notice the only voices you hear on the metro or in restaurants are those of Anglophones, generally loud Americans. French is a soft, murmury language, English carries. Shhh!

8. Smoke as if it's good for you. Not that I suggest you kill yourself to fit in with the naughty French, but why jog along the Seine when you can have a healthy ciggy or two to keep the heart rate going? Oh la la la la la.

9. Never pay ¿5 for a coffee. This is a common tourist trap. Around the Champs Elysees, the Louvre area, Place du Tertre in Montmartre or the Place des Vosges near the Marais, you're going to pay through the nose. Just duck off one of the main streets and try a standard-looking brasserie. They are all good for coffee, usually better than the posh places. But beware: a standard coffee, consumed while standing at the bar, costs normally EUR1.10. Sitting at a table, it costs EUR2.40. And for sitting a la terrace in summer, it can cost 3.50 euros, 4 euros, or more, whatever the mood they're in. Watch out for sitting. It costs.

10. Don't drink cafe creme or cafe au lait, especially after lunchtime. Paris doesn't really do milky coffees, the latte, the cappuccino. French people, if they ever drink cafe au lait, will gulp it down in the morning in a huge bowl at home in their jimjams. Try cafe allonge (long black) or une noisette (like a short machiato) after lunchtime. The milk tastes funny anyway.

11. Try not to stuff your face or talk with your mouth open. Parisians eat several delicate courses in moderate-sized portions with their mouths tightly drawn as they masticate, nodding interestedly. No pea fights. And opening your mouth to display your chewed mouthful is not funny. Believe me. Experience.

12. Enjoy serious meats and never be offended by the way foie gras is made. Learn to eat disgusting things such as bone marrow, liver, lamb shoulders, snails, crumbed pig's trotters. If you're vegetarian, put your values in the poubelle.

13. Never eat cheese before meals. The French think it insane that anyone would do that - it fills you up! Cheese comes after the main course, with lettuce. Always be generous with crust distribution or you look like a serious cheese-unprofessional, and therefore, a tourist.

14. Do not eat moules frites with a fork. Suck out the first slimy mussel with your lips, then use the shell to eat the rest - tres authentic.

15. Never ask for a side-plate for your bread. Put your bread directly on the table next to your meal. Bread plates are unheard of, for some reason; it's as if no filthy Chux ever crossed that linoleum. Also, don't ask for butter for your bread, it's for dunking in the remaining sauce after the meal. Buttered bread equals English equals frown. (Exception to rule: morning tartine with coffee - buttered baguette.)

16. Try not to get drunk. Parisians are boring when it comes to binge drinking. They drink more wine per capita than, I think, any other nation, but they do it sensibly, it's always about the taste, not the quantity. Drunkenness equals social death and "how smashed were you last night?" is not a game likely to draw pants-wetting laughter and punching. Example: standing last night outside expensive nightclub with French friend, trying to get her to skoll vodka, she, extremely confused, finally conceded and, taking a tiny sip said, "Oui. C'est bon". She had tasted it! She couldn't understand why we would be trying to down it. Completely missed the point. Not in the nature.

17. Beware the fruiterer. In some places it is OK to self-serve. But in the epicerie or the fruit shop where there is a man standing looking at you, you are expected to ask for what you desire and he will find the best one for you. And he does. Say "Pour manger aujourd'hui" and they will pick the ripest, yummiest to eat today. If you don't speak French, say, "bonjour, monsieur", and point. Better than causing a scene when you wipe your greasy mitts all over their precious produce.

18. Feel comfortable being alone in restaurants and bars. Perfectly acceptable French behaviour.

19. Enjoy wandering and pondering. Reading on steps and in gardens, visiting galleries and museums and cinemas and theatres on your own, you look far less like a tourist than in your group of 60 wearing your neon T-shirts.

20. Try to speak as much French as possible, even if it's "bonjour monsieur/madame", "merci", "au revoir". Even though they know you're a tourist, they are less likely to give you the tourist treatment when you make at least an effort.

21. Say "oh la la" a lot and add as many las as you see fit. The more las, the more serious/funny the situation. Seven works well.

22. Never step in dog poo. Parisians are masters at dog-poo hopscotch. Les crottes de chien are part and parcel of the Paris streetscape. Don't be offended; think musical theatre.

23. Learn to accept romantic behaviour. The giving of red roses, chocolates and champagne are not an act of piss-taking, they are actually genuine romantic offerings from the typical Frenchman.

24. Give up looking for low-fat products; no Parisian has ever heard of them, or if so, thinks they are degeulasse. Just eat all the buttery treats you like, then, if worried about blowing up to the size of a house, head to your friendly local parapharmacie, where you can join other Parisians in indulging in diet pills to blow the imagination.

25. Always be demanding in restaurants. Never be afraid to ask for any sauce you like, and tell them if the food is not good. Politeness is required, not subservience.

26. Be rude in department stores. The customer is always wrong is the policy in Paris, so be prepared for a bunfight in any department store where you need help. Just be aggressive, Parisians are used to bullying to get what they want.

27. Learn to cry on tap in order to achieve administrative success. Banking, posting letters, anything involving administrative personnel is hell, so be prepared to put on the waterworks to get anywhere.

28. Never wear a bike helmet. Paris traffic may be the most insane you've ever seen, but it messes up the hair and looks affreux.

29. Do not be fazed by rudeness or abrupt behavior. Enjoy it. It's a game to them. This is how you earn your stripes: Take it in your stride and bark back. When standing in hot train stations waiting for a telephone and a rude Parisian steps in front of you as if you were waiting behind the wrong phone, say "I don't think so, Madame" and stand your ground until she gives up and storms off. The bird is very powerful in French society, it is under-used and holds a lot of clout. Flip it where necessary to achieve success and earn respect.

30. Walk as much as possible. Ride bikes. Take the Metro to mystery destinations. Enjoy the taste of food and don't care if it's fattening. Sleep in and don't feel guilty. Leave crumbs in the bed. Be romantic. Eat chocolate. Buy real champagne. Play dress-ups. Sit and do nothing on park benches. Sit and play chess for long hours on park benches. Give money to homeless people. Play cards. Drink wine every day. Lick the cream out of macaroons. Waste time. Don't stress about seeing everything in the Louvre. Don't stress about seeing every museum in Paris. Watch movies you don't understand. Sit in theatres with amazing roofs and big velvet curtains and watch plays you don't understand. Listen to music you've never heard before. Pretend you're Amelie. Get yourself lost regularly. Don't organise anything. Buy last-minute tickets to operas and ballets, even though it's raining and you don't know if you'll get in. Kiss in the snow. Drive like a crazy person. Write stuff down. Sing as you're walking down the street. Watch the busker on the train and smile at him even though you're scared. Go to Versailles and hire bikes and have picnics. Do cartwheels on grass. Scratch the name of your sweetheart in the iron fence on the top of the Eiffel Tower when the guard isn't watching. Jump the park gate at night when the guard isn't watching. Run madly across the roundabout at Etoile to get to the Arc de Triomphe when there are cars driving lanelessly around. Wear thongs in the city. Ignore the guidebooks. Go out sans map. Go into the restaurant even though they don't speak English. Kiss on both cheeks, right then left, and make contact rather than take air. Pash in public. Order stuff you would never eat at home. Do things you'd never do at home.

Then you'll really get to enjoy Paris.