What to Know about Parisian Lifestyle

I’ve been a Parisian long enough to express my vision of a true Parisian to anyone willing to find out more about Paris’ lifestyle; it’s funny, unique, hysterical, and totally Parisian. I’m not trying to upset anyone, and some may disagree with my perspective. If you have a different viewpoint, or have a personal, entertaining experience, feel free to leave a comment.

A rude awakening?

Who says the French are rude? Every blog on the Internet says it! However, let me say that it isn’t totally true. Parisians are very affectionate and kind people. There’s an attitude, of course, after all they’re French. Waiters on the other hand, are a special breed, and the French themselves acknowledge that. So, don’t take it to heart if one barks at you.

The language of love

Some foreign tourists may experience difficult times with Parisians when it comes to language. Before arriving in the City of Light, learn a few French words and phrases to communicate with the locals. With so many apps and language-learning websites, how hard can it be to pick up vocabulary like salut, parlez-vous anglais? Or je ne parle pas français. Start with French first, and then you’ll find that locals are all too willing to help when you find yourself lost, or are in search of the famed Moulin Rouge, which just happens to be in the sultry neighborhood of Pigalle.

If the language barrier is too great, use gestures and facial expressions to make yourself understood.

Not just another catwalk

walk

All we see are stairs and steps everywhere, whether it’s going down to the deeper subway stations or coming back up, and that’s not even counting all the walking to do inside the stations. Most people use them because it’s exercise and not the easy way up by escalator. Of course, I’d be lying if I said no one took an escalator. We also love to climb up and down stairs to get to our apartments. Yet, this is due to the fact that an elevator isn’t in place in many older buildings. It’s just another way of getting in some exercise. We also love to walk on the streets, enjoying life and discovering new places and meeting new people.

Gone fishing!

Why should we vacation in Paris? The city becomes bombarded by millions of tourists throughout the year, especially in summer. We have a month’s worth of vacation, which is cherished by all. So what better time to leave and relax than in summer than to head south for the sun-drenched beaches of the Mediterranean. France has 11 public holidays as well and if one falls on a Thursday, rest assured that Friday will be taken off to escape the city.

Eat, drink, and be merry

Many Parisians have a steak with fries for lunch, accompanied by a small glass of house wine. There’s also the famed French sandwiches croque monsieur and croquet madame, or simply half a baguette filled with deliciousness. However, that’s not to say locals don’t try other cuisines. I’ve met hundreds of Parisians who eat all types of different foods, ranging from Chinese to Middle Eastern. Since fast food chains have expanded across France’s culinary capital, many teens and college students make a beeline for those eateries as well.

Strike while the iron is hot

If there’s any disagreement with the French government, Parisians hit the streets until they get what they want for the issues they care about. The French love strikes and are famous for them—just say when and where and they’ll turn out in droves for a demonstration. Topics can range from air traffic control to public transportation to employment laws. Don’t mess with the French when it comes to promising one thing, but doing the complete opposite later on down the line.

 He loves, he loves me not

couple in love

Sure, we are. Of course, it helps to have a partner. That’s where courting, or courtiser, comes in. It’s common to see couples cuddling, kissing, holding hands, regardless of other people close by, be it at a park or outdoor café. However, there’s a limit to public displays of affection, and oddly enough at train station platforms. Though not enforced, the law was set up in 1910 in order to prevent delays and human traffic jams—oh, l’amour. 

A bone to pick

Complaining is almost a national pastime. The more you complain with Parisians, the better the connection you make with them. Feel free to jump into one of these hot topics: politics, weather, social security, air traffic control, salaries, limited holiday times, free healthcare, public transportation, immigration, fewer tourists, more tourists, cost of living—the list goes on.

Gotta light?

Yes, Parisians love to smoke wherever and whenever possible, and they’ll get mad when it’s not allowed. And for some, a cigarette is just as much a part of the meal as a side dish. Apparently, it makes the food taste 1,000 times better. I’m not a smoker, but it’s what I’ve heard from some. If you ask a Parisian if they ever intend to quit smoking, he or she will light up a cigarette and say: “Sure, I’m going to quit today.”

Smoking in Paris, credit discoverwalks

Honesty is the best policy

Be honest and say how you feel. Parisians will also be brutally honest with you. If an outfit doesn’t suit you, they’ll be quick to ask if your grandmother picked out for you—ouch.

Maybe, maybe not

Vacillating is another “endearing” characteristic. It took 20 years for me to finally make it to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t a priority, and I told myself that it’ll always be there, so why bother to go today? It wasn’t until an American friend of mine insisted that I go up with him that forced me to do it, and I actually had fun. If it hadn’t been for him, I’d still  be contemplating about going up.

Love under lock and key

love locks

We love people and, of course, love, but we hate the love locks. It all started on the Pont des Art and then spread like a pestilence to other parts of the city and the rest of the world.

Why do Parisians hate them? Here are a few facts to consider:

  • The thousands of keys that are tossed into the Seine ultimately rust and pollute the water and disturb the ecosystem.
  • The locks are an eye-soar and ruin the original architecture visitors arrived to see.
  • Tax payers have to fit the bill to remove all the locks when they are too many.
  • The weight of all those locks damages bridges. Again, local taxpayers have to pay for the repairs.

No time to waste

Parisians don’t like waiting in long lines, and they try to avoid it by making a new “friend.” Conversation starters range from asking someone for a light, talking about the weather, or expressing how cute a person’s poodle is. As the discussion moves forward, so too does the line and your new friend as well. The next thing you know, that person is with you at the front.

Enough to drive you mad

Yes, we drive like crazy people and are proud of it. We’ll park wherever we want, and we love to scream at people while driving. Yet, we don’t really show the middle finger to express our frustration. We don’t circle around the Arc de Triomphe like lost souls, either. Only disoriented tourists can’t escape from the maddening traffic circle that consists of 10 streets radiating from the center of this iconic Parisian symbol.

Drinking coffee

cafe

We love coffee—the stronger, the better. We’ll go to a tabac or a cafe and order un café with a sugar cubes and without milk. Get a café au lait if you drink your coffee with milk, but don’t ask for one to go. A flaky croissant or pain au chocolat goes well with a great cup of coffee.

Tip for tat?

Tipping? Hell no. Things are already expensive enough, and portions are small enough at a restaurant. If you feel that your waiter or waitress provided nice service, then feel free to leave 10%. Unlike in the US, you may wait up to 30 minutes before you get the bill after you finish your meal. because your waiter may be on a break; so, if you’re in a rush, ask another waiter to bring you the check.

Fashionistas

We love to dress up—not only for special occasions but all the time. You certainly won’t see a badly dressed Parisian at a grocery store. We’re also always looking for the next fashion trend and how to get to it before anyone else can.

Despite when Parisians say: “Give me a few years; I’m getting the hell out of here and going to Provence or to a deserted island,” they still love their city. Whether you’re Parisian or not, whether you dislike aspects of Paris, or can’t get enough of it, it’s a city that I love so much. I’ll always be a parisien, and Paristu me manques.

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