A wine and cheese picnic on the banks of the Seine, perhaps. Doing your grocery shopping at the historic Le Marché des Enfants Rouges.
Or is it just about how many cigarettes you can smoke in one sitting?
No, it’s none of those things.
The best way to become one with the French capital is to risk your life, by riding a moped through the city’s overflowing arteries at rush hour.
The City of Lights is infamous for the organised insanity of its traffic, especially the whirlpool of congestion that orbits the Arc de Triomphe.
So what better way to get in touch with your inner Parisian, than to hire a moped and explore the city on two wheels?
I was in Paris for one night, having hopped on Eurostar’s 7.01am service from London’s St Pancras, arriving at Gare du Nord by 10.17am.
Getting there and staying there
The high-speed rail link now offers an exclusive range of hand-picked hotels with special rates when booked together with travel – I opted for the stylish Hotel Banke.
A 20-minute stroll from the station, the boutique property, as its name suggests, occupies a renovated bank complete with original wooden counters in the lobby.
While outside the hotel my steel horse – well, more like a plastic pony – awaited.
You see, Paris is full of ready-charged electric mopeds that can be unlocked and ready to ride with the tap of an app.
It takes minutes to sign up to Coup, a rental service that costs €4 for the first half hour and €1 every ten minutes after that.
To use the hop-on, hop-off service all you need is a driving licence, passport and debit card, which you scan into the app and away you go.
There is a helmet under the seat. Traditionally, tourists climb the steep cobbled streets of Montmartre to be rewarded with a panorama of the city from Sacre Coeur Basilica.
Not newly minted Parisians like me, though. I whizzed to the top on two wheels, smugly powered by my 30mph eco-friendly motor.
For lunch it was a short ride to Rue de Faubourg Saint-Denis.
At least it would have been had I not got lost while practising my explicit Parisian hand signals and horn-beeping.
The road near Gare du Nord, an area renowned for being run-down, is now host to some of the coolest bars in the city.
While still the dodgy side of town, the area also has relaxed restaurants and cafes with ridiculously friendly staff who are all happy to speak English.
One of the best is Le Syndicat, a celebration of French cocktail culture, which made the bolshy move to serve the signature cocktails of around 20 of Paris’s best bars.
The menu lists the address and location of every cocktail hotspot from which they’ve pinched a drink, encouraging visitors to explore them. But why bother, when you can drink your way through the best bars in the city without leaving your seat?
For dinner, don’t miss Hero, a hip Korean joint which serves the best fried chicken.
Following a day of moped-related traffic violations, I was back on the last train into London.
Arriving at St Pancras I was greeted by a new installation by Tracey Emin that hangs above the platform.
A love letter to the EU, it is a huge neon sign with the scrawled sentence: “I miss my time with you.”
Luckily, St Pancras Brasserie & Champagne Bar – home to Europe’s longest bar – sits right by the artwork.
Not ready to become a Londoner again, I ordered some fantastic French food, a glass of bubbly and pretended I was still a moped-riding Parisian-in-training.
For more info on St Pancras Brasserie & Champagne Bar, head to stpancras bysearcys.co.uk.
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