Making friends in Paris is one of those ‘holy grail’ goals many expats have, but have little idea of how to make it happen. Part of the reason for this is because of the stereotype that the French are rude and unfriendly. This makes scoring a French friend both all the more desirable and all the more intimidating.
But the reality is, going to France and trying to score a friend as if they were a Pokemon card is probably going to come off as insincere, and not going to work (and for good reason). Another cultural difference between many tourists and many Parisians is that many tourists are too nice (or have a different sense of humour).
At the risk of sounding like a cliche-driven Emily In Paris writer, if you want to fit in better, you might want to show off that you can get down with the schadenfreude, and not be too positive and enthusiastic.
RELATED: Why Parisians Are Rude To Tourists
On that note, Australian in Paris, Lili Debois, has done a number of skits, which illustrate how even Australians have it in them to start embracing some of the French-style humour. And it can even help you make friends. You just have to – we reckon – learn to be a little bit more nasty. Just a little.
“Here are my tips how to make friends in France,” Lili said in one video. “Go to your close metro and head to [we didn’t catch the exact name, but if you live in Paris you would probably recognise it].”
“When you get to…. tip number 2 get on the… [name of a train line]. When you get there, head to Charles de Gaulle… the international airport, get on a plane and go home to your own country.”
She then starts laughing and says: “mais non je rigole. Tu peux faire les amis en France. Mais parle en francais peut etre” (Nah I’m just joking. You can make friends in France. But maybe speak French).
Video: How To Make Friends In France
Lili’s TikTok followers chimed in saying finding a good friend in Paris is like finding a “star in the universe” and writing such comments as “this is the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard” and “just offer us cheese it’s not hard 👀.”
“I have been in France for three years and I have heaps of friends. I think it all depends on you and how you approach people 😀🙃.”
TikTok user Zhuli ENAAM
Another wrote: “It works omg.”
“Still haven’t made any real friends and it’s been 5 months 🙃🙃,” another lamented, wallowing with other users who complained how hard it was to make friends in France without speaking French.
Yet another proffered: “I lived in France for a couple of years when I was a student and made tons of friends whom I’m still in touch with. I do speak French though.”
Lili replied to this: “Yes I’ve made friends here through working 🙂 I think study and work really helps.”
Another TikTok user cheekily suggested: “Tips to make friends in France, (I’m French) DONT.”
Though this comment may sound xenophobic, not only could it just be a joke, but there could also be a grain of truth to it, in that you will possibly find it easier to make friends if you don’t come across as trying too hard to make friends. Just be yourself and allow things to happen naturally.
As we wrote last year, sometimes not being accepted when you travel can actually be a good thing.
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Another TikTok user @maraleebell, an American who has a video series of herself trying to “not look American” in France, has a skit which sums up what can happen if you are overly enthusiastic at a Parisian dinner party.
At the dinner party she says “good evening” to a new acquaintance only to be told, “you are American.”
This makes her think: “Ugh, how do they always know?”
Yes, I am American. My name is maralee. Can I ask: ‘how did you know? What gave me away?”
“The teeth.” All Americans have the big shiny teeth. Very white.”
Though @maralee thought this might be a positive stereotype, one TikTok commenter suggested otherwise, writing: “It’s not a compliment. The French says if your teeth don’t show you eat desserts, coffee or smoke you haven’t begin living.”
“It’s because they smile so much it’s like they are trying to catch flies,” proffered another.
Another commenter wrote; “French people; ‘we’re not mean.’ Also French people: ALWAYS ATTITUDE TO STRANGERS.”
Another good thing to remember is that a lot of stereotypes are overblown. As one New York Times article once put it: “I have lots of anecdotal stories about friendly or rude people all over the world, but that’s just it, they’re anecdotal. They have to be. So if someone tells you, ‘Oh, don’t go there, those people were rude to me on my vacation,’ all that says is that person met someone rude. Nothing more. I’ve encountered rude people in countries known to be super friendly, and I met countless friendly people in countries known for being rude.”
It’s all just stereotypes. However, when you’re traveling, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re a visitor. It all may seem wondrous to you, but to them it’s their home. Treating it, and them, with respect will go a long way.”
Another good point to note is that some of the best friendships are forged on difference – you don’t actually need to always fit in to make friends, you just need to be willing to cop it a little for your differences, and give a little back to your tormenters/friends, and voila, friendship just might blossom.