Bonjour from Paris!
I had heard that Parisians don’t say hello to strangers the way we might in North America – when you meet someone’s gaze as you pass them, you smile and nod or say hello. I had also heard that Parisians will sometimes offer a “Bon Appétit” when they walk by someone who is dining.
So I tried it one day – I was walking along Rue Cler and saw an older gentleman enjoying a midday meal on his own. “Bon Appétit”, I offered, paying attention to my accent – this was an important ritual I did not want to tarnish with my amateur French. I waited for some recognition – a nod, or a merci. Rien, nothing. Had he not heard me? Was he not Parisian? Or maybe it wasn’t true that French people say this to strangers, other than your waiter when he sets your food down.
A few days later, as I sat enjoying some delicious Creme Brulée at a cute outdoor café in the 16th arrondissement, two gentlemen walked by. One of the them, the older of the pair who was perhaps 80, saw the Creme Brulée, and nodded at me and with a hint of a smile said, Bon Appetit.
That Creme Brulée was especially delicious.
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Dreaming of a trip to Paris? You might also enjoy:
How to Rent a Paris Holiday Apartment & A Paris Guide: Best Views of the Eiffel Tower.