Olivier Magny’s book, Stuff Parisians Like, is out today. He’s the creator of the blog with the same name, which you can find here, and he’s also a serious sommelier — so much so that he started a Parisian wine-tasting school called O Chateau when he was in his early 20s. As a native Parisian he has a lot to say about its residents, and much of it is tongue-in-cheek. Early on in the book, he writes, “Paris has become a tepid city full of tepid people.” (It’s probably good to insert a lengthy sigh here.) However, these “tepid people” are also incredibly judgmental and easy to poke fun at, which is why the book can play off the success of sites like Stuff White People Like and get away with it. At the end of every section, Magny includes useful tips that will make you appear to be oh-so Parisian. So read on, dear readers, and tell us what else you love to hate about France.
Discuss your diet.
Parisians love diets, and losing weight is always a great subject of conversation at any time of the day; in fact, it’s one of the best subjects one can approach if you’re bored of bitching about the weather. As Magny writes, “Paris is the only city in the world where men eat salads for lunch.” So keep eating those zero percent yogurts, munching on tiny amounts of food, and following the next trend in dieting or else you’ll never be mistaken for a real Parisian.
Be a bookshelf snoop.
A Parisian is a bloodhound. In order to assess his or her standing in relation to the host’s, the Parisian will have to closely inspect your bookshelf to see what kind of person you really are — he or she will search for political affiliations, interests, and tastes. As Magny writes, “While other guests childishly enjoy themselves over a drink and pleasant conversation, the Parisian is on a mission.” So get ready to have your books perused by a dude with a scruffy beard and a suit jacket or else.
Only read Le Monde.
Even though Parisians are media addicts, they don’t pretend to read anything beyond Le Monde. As Magny writes, “The Parisian feels a certain satisfaction from the fact that France is the only country in the world with actual newspapers.” And yet, Libération is too “gauche,” Le Figaro is too “droite” and L’Equipe is for “beaufs,” so don’t waste your time. Magny writes, “The plan is never to read the newspaper but to actually drop neglectfully in every other conversation a J’suis abonné au Monde.” C’est simple.
This is an easy one. Magny writes, “In Paris, there is nothing more degrading than being a tourist.” We seem to always annoy Parisians, as if it is our mission in life. We wear sneakers, walk too slow, and wear stupid outfits. He explains, “Parisians only talk about four nationalities: les Chinois, les Japonais, les Italiens-ou-les-Espagnols…and les Américains.” Each group is distinct; the Italians/Spaniards are loud, the Japanese are always taking photos, the Chinese are looking for Louis Vuitton, and the Americans say “Oh my God” and “amazing” at every turn. What’s not to hate?
Recline in the Luxembourg Gardens.
What better way to spend an afternoon than to take a stroll in the most elegant park in the world? The Parisian feels that le Jardin du Luxembourg is “a journey in his personal story,” as Magny writes. So many memories float to the surface — of the times spent ditching school, of courting girls, and of reading philosophy (or at least pretending to) for hours in a chair in the beloved park, which is also a runway for the city’s fashionable residents. But if you’re truly Parisian, you aren’t moving around the park, you’re sitting. Remember that.
Hate on Americans.
Because it’s not enough to deride tourists from the US, in the passage titled, “Considering Americans Stupid,” Magny writes, “An interesting experience when chatting with a Parisian is to place the words les Américains in a sentence.” Apparently their brains are hardwired to say that we are a fat, vapid, stupid group who wears terrible clothes and bask in mindless celebrity culture. New Yorkers get a break, however, since we have Woody Allen on our side. We are advised to leave our New Balances and freakishly white smiles at home, though. Remember kids: fashion is pain.
Pretend to listen to classical music.
So… what kind of music do you like? Magny writes that the Parisian will say “Un peu de classique,” but will never get more specific, since he or she can’t; and yet, the idea is so ingrained in the Parisian consciousness that it’s impossible for them to not say this line. As Magny writes, “The fact that he never actually listens to classical music is no reasonable objection to this conviction.”
Eat a lot of sushi.
Magny writes, “Sushi restaurants have flourished everywhere in Paris. They are usually owned and operated by Chinese people.” And yet, this doesn’t stop them from becoming the restaurant of choice for young, hip Parisians who are fascinated by Japanese gastronomy, but really this just means they enjoy sushi. Magny notes that Rue Sainte-Anne is the nexus of all things Japanese, and it is here that one can branch out and enjoy “real” Japanese food with “real” Japanese chefs.
Know about current exhibits.
Magny writes, “The real point of knowing about current exhibits is to show you know about current exhibits.” Don’t feel as if you have to go to any of them, however. Just know enough for it to seem as if you did. Or say that you regrettably “really don’t have time” to go, but then ask when the exhibition ends, just in case. As Magny says, “Art-dropping will soon be considered a form of art itself.”
Embrace house parties.
As a tourist, you’ve probably been disappointed by the bar and club scene in the City of Lights. But Parisians know better, because they go to house parties. There are two kinds Magny mentions: une soirée posée and une grosse soirée. In other words, quiet parties and large, riotous affairs. At the first, political discussions are a must, so get ready to be the beloved contrarian and make everyone fall for you. At the second party, diversity and coolness are key components. You need the right balance of people to prove that your apartment is worthy of Parisian libidinousness. Bonne chance, kids!