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Friday, March 19, 2010

How to Identify Your Tourists

According to a statistic that I found online, Paris has somewhere close to 45 million visitors per year, making it one of the most visited cities/landmarks/anything in the world. In addition, about 60% of those tourists are from abroad.

I used to enjoy trying to pick out Americans in the crowd when I first moved here to Paris. Maybe it's just because I grew up in the United States that it seemed relatively easy, but after two years here, I've had some practice at trying to pick out people from other countries as well. Here are just some observations I have made, and if you can think of some others (within good taste of course), then feel free to contribute as well.


Once again, this one was the easiest since it's what I see at home as well. Anyway, certain clothing items to help identify an American tourist in Paris:

-White tennis or running shoes- I'm not sure why this is, but it seems to be an almost completely North American thing.
-Hats with any sort of sports logo on them, with the exception of the New York Yankees. If you see someone here with a Yankees hat, don't automatically assume they are American. The Yankees (or at least their hats) have a huge fan base in Paris.
-Shorts- though more Europeans wear shorts as well, I rarely see Parisians wear them. When I went running in them last month, people looked at me as if I was running naked.
-University Apparel- this is a surefire way to tell, unless you have the occasional kid who studied abroad in the US that brought back a souvenir. French people are not as proud of their universities as we are back in the US, nor do they have sports at these schools for which to cheer. The one exception is Franklin and Marshall College, which is located in southeastern Pennsylvania. A clothing company in Italy took their logo and made it a huge hit in Western Europe, and many French teenagers wear these shirts around. The company has no affiliation with the college either.
-If you are a girl below 25, North Face jackets and Uggs. On second thought, North Face apparel in general, more often than not, is a sign that one comes from the US.


This is a little more tricky, because in most ways, the Canadians are similar in makeup and appearance to those from the US. However, there are a couple of little differences.
-Roots- like North Face apparel and Americans, Roots apparel and Canadians seem to go together pretty well.
-Canadian Flag on Backpacks- this is a good way for a Canadian to show that not only are they from Canada, but they are NOT from the United States. Since a lot of people believe that Americans do not have a good track record abroad, something needs to be done to differentiate those that could easily be mistaken as Americans themselves.


Like Canadians, Australians seem to fear being mistaken for Americans. To keep this from occurring, I have seen many Australians that wear Australian flags on their clothing. In addition, I have seen quite a few that wear Australian flag hats, berets, vests, t-shirts, etc.
-Kathmandu- This seems to be worn uniquely by Australians. Easy way to tell an Australian. Other clothing that helps include Billabong, Quicksilver, or basically anything that has to do with surfing.


-Loud-Don't get me wrong here, Americans are very loud as well, probably on the same level as Italians. In France, you'll notice that when sitting on the metro, you won't be able to hear the conversation of two people sitting no less than 5 feet away. However, replace them with Americans or Italians, and you'll be able to know every detail of what they are doing today, and maybe even their personal life, if you are lucky.
-Glossy Coats- This is the big clothing item that stands out to me. During the winter, it seems that almost every Italian has a long glossy jacket with a hood. On these hoods, one finds a fur lined collar. I have no idea what kind of animal was killed for these, but a lot of them were maimed for the sake of style.
-Designer Eyewear and Purses
-In many couples I have seen, the women are taller than the men. I don't know why this is, and this item is very much debatable, but I seem to see it a lot.


-The only thing I can think of here are Jack Wolfskin jackets and apparel. This is a German company, so I guess it makes sense.


-Dressed Like Going Camping- When I see French people coming from the provinces to Paris, they have a unique way of standing out from the crowd. I often times see them dressed in rainproof jackets, pants, hiking boots, backpacks for hiking, and occasionally walking sticks. To be honest, I guess it isn't such a bad idea to come dressed like this, but it is hard for me to imagine these tourists dressing like this when they are back at home. I included a picture above that I took near the Eiffel Tower. I felt that these guys were just as likely to set up a tent and camp for the night as they were to climb up the Eiffel Tower.
-Quechua- French sporting goods company. French travelers may be seen decked out in Quechua apparel.

This is just a general note for tourists of any background: Parisians do not wear berets. The only people that can pull it off are geriatrics and occasionally some girls that match a beret with other clothing. If you want to stand out here in Paris as a tourist, however, go buy one of the colorful berets with an Eiffel Tower on it that can be found in every tourist shop in the city.

As I said above, these are just some observations that I have made. They aren't necessarily true of everyone from a given country. If you have anymore to add, or if you disagree, feel free to contact me.

If you are traveling to Paris and looking to see (and eat) what French people really eat and take a walk around some cool neighborhoods of Paris, look into my tours at

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