Author Jayne Tuttle's new book, Paris or Die: A Memoir, is published on Sunday, December 1 (Hardie Grant Travel, $32.99) After living in Paris and working as an actor and writer for more than a decade, she now splits her time between Paris and Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula. She recently became co-owner of The Bookshop at Queenscliff. See jaynetuttle.com
Always speak French first, or attempt it. Parisians mostly speak or understand English, but it's a sign of respect to speak their language first. A simple "bonjour" will melt any Parisian, even (or especially) with my dad's accent. And speak quietly. French is a watery language that disappears into its surroundings – English voices stand out. Avoid death glares by keeping it down.
Parisians kiss twice, left to right. Don't connect your lips with the cheek, look out and up as your cheeks almost touch. When meeting new people at a gathering, perform this ritual with each person, say "bonjour" and your name, nothing else. You may have to kiss a lot of people in a room. Do this diligently, even if you feel like a robot. And be yourself, but know that fake tans, over-styled hair and too-much-makeup make you a cagole (a Cote d'Azur floozy) and draw disdain from Parisiennes. For men, a flanny or tracksuit will make you invisible.
In restaurants, choose something quickly from the menu and order it concisely. Try not to diverge from what's on offer, or attempt adjustments: you think you know better than the chef? "Ce n'est pas bon comme ça," (It's not good like that.)" is a likely retort, accompanied by a snigger. Don't say 'bon appétit' at dinner. For some reason, no Parisian says it (except in the case of Step 4). When you do say it, they look at you as though you're a tourist. But then you say it anyway as it feels impolite not to. Even after a decade, you'll always be a tourist.
Never order a café au lait after lunchtime. This is very weird to Parisians, for whom the art of digestion is a widely obeyed doctrine. Don't order a café au lait full stop. Made for tourists. Ask for a café crème or simply un crème in the morning, and in the afternoons a noisette (short macchiato), an allongée (long black) or an expresso – yes, they say ex (go with it). Then sit down and drink your coffee or eat. Take-away hasn't taken off in Paris. Eating on the train or as you walk is scorned, and the "bon appétits'' you receive in the street are not meant to be kind.
Stand your ground when queuing. Somewhere along the line, "Ooh, I didn't see you!" became a fun game for Parisians and they play it especially with tourists, cutting in at any chance they get. Earn their respect by being aware. Don't let things annoy you – rudeness, waiting, bad service, almost being run over. All are designed to test your character and if you crack, you lose. She Who Smiles Last Wins.