A good travel guide shouldn't just tell you what to do and see when roaming abroad; it should give clear advice on what not to do. Paris can admittedly be notorious for its long list of tourist "faux pas". A recent Op-Ed in the Financial Times entitled "When a man is tired of Paris" wearily listed all the ways Paris can exhaust you with its rigorous customs, protocol and standards of etiquette and decorum. While I disagree with the author's summarily writing Paris off as "a snooty, unfriendly city"-- I have had too many experiences of genuine warmth and kindness here that simply contradict this opinion--I can concede that Parisian culture places more of an emphasis on formality and decorum than most major metropolises. If you fail to, say, preface your question to a shopkeeper with a "Bonjour, Madame", you might indeed be met with less than friendly service, especially from older generations.
Beyond the question of etiquette, what about avoiding common pitfalls that visitors-- especially first-timers-- often fall into? This can include getting sucked into tourist-trap areas and failing to escape from their gravitational pull, hitting major attractions at the wrong times, or failing to pace yourself by attempting too much at once. I recently wrote here about how not to approach a visit to the gargantuan Louvre museum, and in our guide to Parisian street food, I give plenty of tips on areas to avoid if you want to prevent wasting dollars on sub-par sandwiches or crepes.
My talented cohorts on the Travel Channel at About.com, and led by Susan Breslow Sardone of Honeymoons/Romantic Travel, have teamed up to create a fantastic resource called "Don't Do That!", and featuring dozens of in-depth features on how to avoiding embarrassment, exhaustion, irritation and other unpleasant feelings while traveling. From Australia to India, California and the UK, the guide packs tons of helpful advice on adapting to local culture and customs, as well as tips on places and things to avoid. Bookmark away!