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Paris is legendary; the reasons may vary but the fact remains. Even legendary cities have their stereotypes. And like all these fairytale cities, the list of conventional things to do in Paris is changing. We’ve compiled a list of stereotypes for you to avoid, especially if it’s your first time, and we’re giving you better alternatives as well. Save up on time and money and experience the real Paris of today. The places to see in Paris have to be seen, we’re just showing you a different way to see them.

Don’t Climb the Eiffel Tower

People visit the Eiffel Tower by the millions every year. Labyrinthine lines, tickets, cattle car-like elevators, much queing and re-queing later, you get to see the Paris skyline without its most significant edifice. And let’s not even get started on the amount of time wasted.

Instead, book a table at Les Ombres, the rooftop restaurant of the Musée du Quai Branly. The restaurant’s glass latticework ceiling (like a dragonfly’s wing) makes the most of its tall neighbor by enables you to feast your eyes on the tower in all its gorgeous entirety while dining on French classics such as foie gras, oysters, and grilled steak. The view is at its most magical at night, when the tower glows ethereally and bursts into manic sparkling every hour. Or you can just head to the adjoining salon de thé to toast your savvy tourist skills with an alfresco flute of Champagne.

Don’t try to see the Louvre in 3 hours or less

Just take a moment and rationally consider how long it’ll take you to first find the Mona Lisa and then wait for the crowd to part enough so that you can get a picture with it in the background. If you really don’t care about much else but DaVinci’s intriguing lady, then go ahead.

Instead, plan your itinerary in such a way you spend the whole day at the world’s most famous museum. At least half the day is absolutely necessary. You can come back later if you plan to visit again, but hey, there’s a lot of other things to do with 14 Euros.

Don’t go shopping for designer labels

Yes, Paris is the fashion capital of the world, yes, a lot of brands are headquartered here; but there’s no such thing as a proximity discount. Most of these iconic brands are now available across the globe. Buy them closer to home and be free of the excess weight they’ll add. There will be an insignificant difference in prices at the most.

Instead, follow the local fashionistas and head to the local design houses. They are very much ‘in vogue’ so to say, and hey, you won’t really find them anywhere else. Do your fair share of window shopping at epic places like Louis Vuitton’s flagship store on the Champs Elysees.

Don’t get (Michelin)Starstruck

There are close to a hundred Michelin starred restaurants in Paris. But is it worth it to spend all that money on one meal, however fabulous? And not to forget all the rigid confines of haute-cuisine that come with it. Paris is a gourmet’s paradise, even without the Michelin stars. There’s so much more to eating out in Paris.

Instead, have your dinner à la mode. Several Michelin starred chefs have actually abandoned their star status to open convivial bistros. The food is just as good, the prices are so much steeper and who cares about the ‘stuck up high society’ environment anyway? But if a Michelin starred meal is high up on your list, book at lunchtime for excellent-value prix fixe menus.

Don’t French kiss strangers

No, that’s not how it’s done. Yes this is France, the namesake for the French kiss. But you’ll end up with a nice tight one across your cheeks just like anywhere else in the world.

Instead, try discreet air kissing. Two kisses on either cheek is the usual norm in Paris. Always let the woman take the lead. Guys do nor air kiss each other, unless of course you’re intimately acquainted. Hugging is considered too intimate for social situations.

Don’t gift Chrysanthemums

Unless you’re going to a funeral. Chrysanthemums symbolize funerals in French culture. Avoid all yellow flowers in general which, rumour has it, imply the husband is unfaithful.

Instead, bring a foreign wine, flowers or even a potted plant; all of which will be appreciated.

Don’t take cabs

This is not New York City. First of all, taxis can be hard to come by and can’t be flagged down on the street. You need to call ahead for one or find a taxi stand. Then, there’s the traffic and the hole in your wallet.

Instead, take a walk. It’s the most romantic thing to do in Paris, and also the best way to discover any city. And there’s always the metro. From any given tourist spot in Paris, you’re never more than 500 yards from the nearest station. No excuses there!

Don’t Commit a Fashion Faux Pas

The term does owe its origins to Paris after all. Parisians do not (read DO NOT) wear sneakers unless they’re off to climb Mount Everest, maybe not even then. So, if you’re planning a shorts, t-shirt, cap n camera look, then be ready to be frowned upon.

Instead, do understated elegance. Easy to pull off, just make sure the look is clean, co-ordinated and not over the top. And the best footwear you own, that goes without saying.

Don’t stuff up on croissants

Try them, by all means but don’t restrict yourself to only croissants.

Instead, try everything, that you can. Macaroons are the new hit, with flavours like cherry amaretto, violet, white truffle, rose, caramel with sea salt and orange-ginger. There are an amazing array of avant garde’ desserts up for takers in this city, try a new one everytime!

Don’t be stuck up

The Parisians are known to be a rude, snobbish lot. That, in no way, implies you should behave the same. There are always the nice ones.

Instead, be nice. You’ve got nothing to lose. Learn some basic French, it’ll go a long way in enriching your Parisian experience.

And you’re set to conquer the city of light.

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As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

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