It has been almost 20 years since I lived in Paris, but I visit every year and never get tired of experiencing such a magnificent city. I haven’t been here in over a year and I have quickly been reminded about some of the things I had forgotten.
1. Dogs are everywhere. I was in a bakery and in front of me was a woman with her little poodle and the lady behind the counter was engaging the dog, actually talking to it! And I saw a man who had his dogs on a leash that connected the dogs at their torsos. So he had one leash handle but he was walking two dogs at a time. I had never seen that and he was walking too fast for me (see #4) to get out my camera and take a pic. French people love their dogs.
2. I forgot about the men who play their music on the Metro. It’s not something soft and mellow, or anything remotely interesting. Most of the time it’s an electric accordian that is super annoying.
3. I was taken aback by the African women I see that lighten their skin. If you go into Black hair shops you can see the lightening products. I mean, seriously? They look very strange and as one of my friends said, “They look taupe.” Taupe is not a good look for skin color and I think it’s so sad these lovely African women feel they need lighter skin.
4.French people walk really fast. When I lived here I’m sure I walked as fast as they do but as I was walking around, I couldn’t believe how many people were flying by me. I wasn’t taking pictures or texting, I was just strolling. Frenchies remind me of New Yorkers in that respect, they have places to go and they want to get there now.
5.I miss the Metro. The sounds of the Metro are so soothing to me. I like to hear the screeching of the wheels as the Metro is moving (I’m being serious). I love being able to get anywhere in the city without having to drive. And it’s a great place to people watch.
6. Some French people love to smoke. Thankfully smoking is banned in restaurants but I have seen more people walking around smoking than I have seen in a long time. And because it is cold here, when people go outside to smoke they keep on their coats so when they come back inside you smell the smoke all over them.
7. There are tons of homeless people. When I think back on my time in Paris, I never remember all of the homelessness. But do not be surprised if you see someone sleeping outside or urinating on the street.
8. Tipping the waiter is totally optional. I went to dinner last night and we tipped the waitress, she was so grateful I swear her smile was bigger than a Cheshire cat. She kept thanking us and the tip wasn’t even that big. Many people will only leave a few Euros on a bill about 50 or 60 euros (about 65 to 75 dollars).
9. Public toilets are few and far between, and if you find one they aren’t usually clean and they for sure don’t smell nice. Many toilets have no air circulating at all, so when you close the door to the stall, there is no break between the door and the floor or ceiling. Sometimes you have to take a deep breathe and hold it while you handle your business. Or breathe thru your mouth. Either way you have to smell it or taste it. Yummy.
10. I didn’t forget about all the walking but my feet did. I have walked so much over the past two days and my feet are killing me. And on top of that I’m staying with someone who lives on the 5th floor with no elevator so walking up and down stairs is a beast! Next time I come I will definitely get some inserts for my boots because seriously, my feet are angry with me!
Even though some of the things I had forgotten may not be super positive, it just goes to show how the unpleasant things are quickly forgotten when the overall experience is a positive one. Living in Paris was a life-changing time for me and I am so happy I did it.
I still find Paris and the people in it to be fascinating. There really isn’t another place on earth with a vibe like Paris, and if you haven’t been, I really hope you can soon!