A Londoner In Paris: How To Be French

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Paris is always a good idea. I moved here four years ago to work as Emmanuelle Alt’s fashion assistant and have never looked back. Growing up with a French mother, I had always been curious about living in France. I told my friends in London it would only be a temporary two year-long stint of hard work, grasping as much of French culture and fashion as I could, but four years later, here I still am. London will always be my hometown but Paris – c’est magique! Here are some things I’ve learned.

Henry Clarke, Vogue April 1959

  • Drinking in Paris is much more sophisticated than the pub culture in London. It’s all about la terrasse – a drink outside. Never expect to be able to actually book a table on a Parisian terrasse, though. Those in the know head to Hotel Providence in the 10th, and order the vegetable burrata and a glass of wine.
  • A glass of wine, a planche (a plate of ham or cheese) and a pack of cigarettes is perfectly acceptable as a meal in itself. La Palette in Saint Germain does the best cheeseboard.
  • To stand out from the crowd, adorn your wrists with Jennifer Fisher and Aurélie Bidermann gold jewellery.
  • A “physio” in Paris can’t help your muscular aches and pains. A physio here is someone who is employed by a nightclub to check you and your “look” out in the line before the doorman lets you in. He or she is usually bitchier than a clipboard bitch and there’s no negotiating. You can, however, go clubbing in your Nikes. It’s all about attitude.
  • Parisians do eat. Most are just naturally slim. They genuinely have hardly, if ever, set foot in a gym.
  • Sunny day in Paris? Prepare to share your picnic blanket. Limited parks and green spaces mean there’s always a flock of at least five Parisians making you feel a little claustrophobic. That’s why most Parisians go away to their country homes on weekends, whether in Normandy or Brittany.
  • The grumpiest people in Paris are the “taximan”. Thank god for Uber.
  • Don’t be surprised if a waiter throws the menu at you or asks you to pay up front. They couldn’t care less if you haven’t received your food yet. They will also swear at you.
  • Less smiling, more attitude. If you do smile, people will say things like “You’re not from Paris, are you?” The other British giveaway: saying sorry all the time.
  • You will see fewer dresses and more trousers and almost never bare legs.
  • Black is the safe dress code option in Paris. People aren’t as eccentric in their dress sense as they are in London. Everyone owns one black blazer (Ellery’s oversized style will win you style points); a black pair of Jimmy Choo or Saint Laurent stilettoes; a pair of loafers or slippers (Gucci’s furry slides still have mileage); a good pair of jeans; and a jumpsuit – Isabel Marant makes the best.
  • Champagne is never to be mixed with ice, but ice cubes in rosé is allowed – it’s called a piscine.



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