WHAT NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT LIVING IN PARIS
Bonjour! Je m’appelle Ami Cadugan and I am the newest addition to the Mama team! Originally hailing from New York, my family just moved to Paris (for my husband’s job) in the Fall of 2014.
This is a very “refined” city and I am enjoying learning as much as I can about it…the language, the people, the art, the beauty, the fashion, the culture…I could keep going…and I will, in future posts!
But there are also several other discoveries I have made in my short time here and I hope you find these interesting (and a bit humorous). So…here goes, some of my top revelations about Parisian life.
Living in Paris is totally different from just visiting for a few days. Once you are done with the fancy dinners, high-end shopping and snapping endless pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, you still have to find a place to live, set up a bank account, get a cell phone, take your kids to school, do the laundry. Sometimes you feel like Cinderella! Hopefully MLP can be your fairy godmother!
A Little Bonjour Goes a Long Way
You just moved to Paris and only know a few words or phrases. Make sure that one of them is “Bonjour” (hello, good day). It is a sign of respect to say that to anyone with whom you interact, especially in a shop or restaurant. You will get much better service if you make eye contact and say that simple phrase, at the beginning of your conversation.
By not saying “Bonjour” you perpetuate stereotypes about foreigners – that we’re rude and think we’re better than anyone else. Since you’re going to live here for a while, it’s important to establish a good rapport with the local businesses in your neighborhood. And saying “Bonjour” is where that starts.
The Hottest Accessory in Paris is…an Umbrella
Whenever you hear people talk about Paris, it’s always romance, beauty, art and cafes. No one ever talks about the crappy weather. According to multiple “weather sites”, it actually rains MORE in Paris than in London. But, since Paris gets more sunlight, London gets the worse rap! Seriously, invest in a solid, wind-resistant umbrella. You’ll need it!
The Scoop on Poop
When you first get to Paris, you spend a lot of time looking up and around…The monuments, the architecture, the people watching. But then you have that “What the F**!” moment when you step in a wet, gooey, brown (ish) pile of grossness. Unfortunately, it’s exactly what you think it is…poop. Lots and lots of dog poop. On sidewalks throughout the city, you will see piles of the stuff…followed by the “skids” of people wiping the crap off their shoes. GROSS and unhygienic on so many levels!! Evidently, Parisians have never heard the phrase “Curb Your Dog” and are clearly unfamiliar with the concept of the “doggie bag”. This picture is sporadically embedded in sidewalks across town—guiding dog owners to ensure that pooping takes place in gutters. I swear that I have actually seen poop ON this before And… just guess what that puddle of water next to it is!
Ooh la la! The Red Tape!
Do you want to rent an apartment? Wait, you need to have a bank account first. Do you want to set up a bank account? Wait, you need to have an address first. Do you want to get a cell phone plan? Wait, you need both a bank account AND an address. Yes, it’s a vicious cycle and it goes on and on. Keep in mind, you need every piece of “legal paperwork” in your life to do any of the above. If you have ever signed it, paid taxes on it, or it shows your mug shot, make sure to bring it with you. And, if, heaven forbid you don’t have the ONE document they want (but never mentioned), you will have to make another appointment (or rendez-vous) for another day! And remember, if you don’t like the answer the first person gives you (if they can understand enough of your horribly accented French, to figure out what you want in the first place!), try, try again. The French are known for their Red Tape…but also known for bending or breaking their own rules. Try asking 3 different people in an organization the same question and you will receive 3 completely different answers! My solution to getting over the frustration is Le Vin Rouge (Red Wine).
“Mama’s Little Helper”
It’s cheaper than soda, Coke products cost around €4 in most restaurants…you can buy a whole BOTTLE of “perfectly drinkable” Vin Rouge for under €4 in any food store in town! Monoprix, here I come!
It’s easily accessible (no prescription needed—take that Xanax!) and available OTC. All you need is a good corkscrew! I am the proud owner of a Screwpull®. It was a gift from my husband so that I could open “Two Buck Chuck” (All you “Trader Joe’s” fans from the US know what I’m talking about!) That’s right, he spent $100 on this thing so that I could open a $2 bottle of wine. If that’s not love, than I don’t know what is!
It’s socially acceptable (everyone’s drinking it, starting at lunch, but not a moment earlier). Evidently, if you start drinking before Noon you’re bordering on “wino” territory…who knew?!
The French even have a celebration every November, they call it “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” (which literally is day one of the New Beaujolais, fermented for just a few weeks). I so do not get the party for this wine!? To me, Beaujolais Nouveau is completely “undrinkable”!
Have you heard of Salon du Vin? It occurs a few times a year at a giant expo center in Paris. Hundreds of vendors from across France come out to let you sample their goods. Now I don’t know about you, but paying €8 to get access to that much wine seems like a “no-brainer” to me!
That’s it from me for now! Salut and Bonne Année! You’ll be hearing more from me later in the month.
“Great post Ami! We are so happy to have you on board. Welcome to Mama Loves Paris”
Love MLP x
Ami’s next post can be found here!