Are you considering a visit to a friend who lives in Paris? Here are a few pieces of advice. I'm sure there's a lot I've forgotten. Parisians, add yours in the comments section please!
1. If you want to see Paris with Parisians, including your friends, try not to come in late July or early August.
Paris is empty of Parisians then, and while that has its advantages (like easy parking), it also means that your friends are likely to be gone as well. Restaurants and small shops close for up to a month and yet there are more tourists than ever.
Your friends, if they live a Parisian life with its long vacations, are likely to be out of town. And they may not want their apartment to be treated as a hotel to be used when they're not even there.
Yes, I know Americans don't get enough vacation. Still, August is not ideal.
2. Don't expect your friends to tour Paris with you or make all your arrangements for you.
They've already seen the Eiffel Tower.
You're a grownup. Google Versailles yourself.
3. If they say they don't have a bed for you, don't say "I don't mind sleeping on the floor." They probably mind.
A lot of people are too polite to tell you to stay in a hotel. This is their way of telling you. If you can finance a trip across the Atlantic, you can probably pay for a place to stay in Paris and meet your friends for dinner instead. Would you make a trip to stay with them in the U.S.? If not, think twice about asking to stay with them in Paris.
4. They can help with travel, shopping, and restaurant advice.
Your Parisian friends will know how to get to places better than you. Ask them to help you choose routes.
5. Don't put a padlock on Paris bridges.
This has become a real plague of vandalism and is not a sign of love any more.
6. Don't eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at your friends' place every day.
Unless you leave after a day or they're your mother.
If you don't have much money for lunch, buy a sandwich or quiche at a bakery and take it to a park. That's what Parisians do.
7. Offer to bring something from the U.S.
They'll probably have something to suggest. It might surprise you. I once saw a group of American expat women almost come to blows in an auction of Kraft's macaroni-and-cheese dinner. (I don't claim to understand all these cravings but I do still like Butterscotch candy bars.) My own list includes pecans, Tony Chacheré's Creole Seasoning, Ziploc bags in large sizes, and fluffy towels which are still amazingly hard and expensive to find over here.
8. June is a great month in Paris
The days are looooong and European schools are still in session, so there are far fewer crowds and wonderful long light evenings at cafes.
9. Say Bonjour to everyone before asking a question, even if you don't speak French.
10. Dress nicely to be treated better.
To a lot of Parisians, people who don't dress nicely are effectively being rude.
Lagniappe: Enjoy wonderful Paris!