How to fit in on the French Riviera.

It’s coming up to that time of year again- that mass evacuation of the Australian population aged 18-30 called ‘The European Summer’.

Whilst young travellers everywhere are prepping their bodies with hours in the gym and perfecting their ‘Me in front of the Eiffel Tower’ selfie, here are a few survival tips for avoiding having the word ‘TOURIST’ tattooed on your forehead.

One of the most popular destinations for the Euro Summer is the French Riviera, the glamorous home of places such as Nice, Monaco & St Tropez. Super yachts, bottles of Veuve and a whole lot of designer brands that make that you realise you will forever be poor, the Côte d’Azur is a place where massive wealth and luxury seem completely normal.

Having lived in the south of France and stalked the elegant aristocrats in their natural habitat, I have a few words of advice for those wanting to at least pretend to be part of this world, all the while knowing they will forever be like…

Do: Wear appropriate attire.

Nothing says high style and sophistication quite like a pair of dirty Havianas and a beach dress chucked over wet cossies… Right? Wrong. The French, and their cashed up tourists, reserve the thongs and wet swimmers for the beach exclusively. Make use of the change rooms at the beaches or beach clubs for travelling to and from, and avoid doing the whole beach to bar thing after the sun has set. It will save you from a few awkward stare-offs.

Don’t: Gawk at the high prices.

“12 euros for a beer?!… That’s like $18 Aussie dollars!!!.. Effff thatttttt”. If you want to be living the life of a high roller, don’t expect it to be cheap ride. Expect to be charged a motza for everything at every café and restaurant with a couple of sneaky add-ons—sparkling water, bar snacks, anything that arrives at your table and is touched by a human will be charged on the bill. The good news is that restaurants in France don’t charge for the bread that is served with meals… Jump. On. That. Shit.

Don’t: Wear a beret.

Unless you want to look like the ultimate foreigner, don’t wear a beret in France. Just as you’re going to be greeted with “ahhh kangourooo” with every “I’m Australian”, sometimes your country’s stereotypes don’t really exist in real life. You won’t look “so French”, more like “un con” (translate: dickhead). You probably won’t meet a Pierre, who rides a bicycle in a beret and a striped top… but if you do, definitely grab a photo. It will be hilarious and you can reproduce them as postcards to sell when you need to pay off your post-holiday debt.

Do: Carry baguette under your arm.

This stereotype is actually awesomely true. The French casually stroll down the streets with fresh baguette tucked in their armpit. Be warned, however, that in Australia we have nothing quite like the deliciousness that is genuine French baguettes. Not once in 12 months did I make it down the street with a baguette. I only lasted around 3 steps past the front door without ripping off the top and scoffing it down. If you want to play the ultimate high roller though, a job like buying bread would probably be on one of your many servants. So no bread in the street for you.

Do: Remember confidence is key

Quite often just by pretending that you belong in the VIP section/private beach/lounge of someone’s super yacht, people won’t ask questions. Have confidence, don’t talk to much so you can keep your cover story straight and if worse comes to worse, just assume the identity of an Australian cousin of the Royal family. Write off any miscommunications as cultural/language differences and feel free to name drop celebrities/designers/fashion labels/anything that sounds fancy. You got this.

Words by ELLY PATRICK, who is hoping next time she’s in the south of France, she’s on the back of Leo DiCaprio’s yacht.  

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