DISCLAIMER: this is not an article about clichés. Clichés do a great job at being kept alive; I shall not help them spread more. This is real. It’s a real article from a real Frenchman who’ll share the best tips with you about the secret to appear French. So do not expect any berets or baguettes here.
1. Complain, complain, COMPLAIN!
That’s your way into small talk. You could go for the weather but nobody cares about it. So go for some nagging. The public transport, your workload, the skyrocketing prices, anything will do. However, the art of nagging is not so much about the content (which is, face it, rather vain anyway) it’s about sighing and rolling eyes and all those French mimics that will make you look genuinely French.
2. Tracksuits are not suits
No. If you go out with sweatpants on, you’ve lost all control over your life (Karl Lagerfeld). If you want to be French, you need to carefully choose what you wear. It needs not be haute couture or especially expensive, but it needs to look decent. You can’t get away with sneakers if you want to go to a bar (frowned upon) or a club (no chance you’ll meet anybody beside the bouncers). So make sure that you look pretty at all time.
3. Get the French accent
OK, if you can speak French it’s better, but it takes time. You can fake the accent much faster though. Here is the trick (if you do it speaking English) – pronounce all the letters the French way. You need to learn a bit about that, but not so much. Then, you need to get rid of your accent: French is a very flat language without any tonics. No stress on any syllable. Also, both “th” sounds do not exist in French and are difficult to pronounce. Make them “z”. Finally take a higher pitch if you ask a question. Try it, it’s more convincing than you’d think.
This is ZEE keyword. No matter what happens, good news, bad news, excitement, disappointment, joy, relief – that’s what we say. See the video for more information.
Before the whole duck face was invented, the French had it all mastered already. Better, of course. The French pouting is much more subtle than a vulgar duck face. Slightly purse your lips but not too much; just enough to give you attitude and a slight air of disdain. Chin up and pout. Now walk through the streets of Paris.