Sunday, September 7, 2008

4 Reasons to Move to Paris Right Now

I’ve been in Paris for over two months now, but sometimes I am still struck by little cultural differences that remind me why I have chosen to live here. I’m not just talking about things like delicious cuisine and stylish people and universal health care and blah blah blah. That stuff is important, I suppose, but this is why I REALLY love Paris:

1. Getting harassed on the street here can be an absolute pleasure. (Let me preface this observation by saying I am not trying to imply that I’m particularly harassment-worthy. Almost all women probably experience this treatment from time to time, and it has less to do with the physical appearance of the harassee than it does with the sleaziness level of the harasser). That said, harassment can be downright poetic in France. The comments I get most frequently are “Vous êtes charmante” and “Mais, que vous êtes ravissante.” Charming! Ravishing! This is a vast improvement from the comments I used to get in New York, where a homeless guy once followed me through the subway calling me a “garbage bitch.” Part of me enjoyed this comment, but I must say, it was not very polite. Vagrants in Paris really know how to romance a lady.

2. Bars here have caught onto the idea of “Happy Hour”... sort of. There seems to be some confusion surrounding the concept. At home, happy hour is a gimmick to make people start drinking at an unhealthily early hour (“Really gross $2 mixed drinks from 3-5pm!”), and in New York, no one can leave work early enough to take advantage anyway. In Paris, I’ve noticed that many happy hours last from about 6pm-midnight which, to me, seems like fairly normal drinking hours… just cheaper. I’ll take it! I guess in a culture where it’s acceptable to drink at all hours of the day, the concept of happy hour is fairly obsolete. In Paris, it’s all happiness, all the time. Digression: is anyone else confused about New York's current "speakeasy" trend? I was under the impression that prohibition was over, but apparently the joy of drinking in an underground cave persists. In Paris, you can drink in the street and you don't even have to brown-bag it. This is what I call living.

3. While the nightmare of apartment hunting transcends cultures and continents, my experience thus far in Parisian real estate has been surprisingly delightful. I had one broker tell me to “take as much time as I needed,” as choosing a temporary sublet was a “big decision.” In New York, if you don’t sign away your first born the minute you’ve seen an apartment, you’re screwed. You might as well just set up a cardboard box and become a freegan. And while New York’s Craigslist is rife with disgusting and cramped apartments described as “cozy,” “charming,” and “jewel-box,” a lot of Paris Craigslist ads tell it like it is: "come see my tiny apartment!"

And then you get ads like this:

"Are you coming on holiday or to study, i can offer a fouton in my lounge for females only, i have a separate bedroom. In exchange i need this person to keep my apartment clean, do laundry, grocery shopping and water my plants when i go on holiday in october for 2 weeks. Only responsible people please, not people that are here to party and make a mess. I am a smoker and it,s not negotiable whether i can smoke in my own apartment or not. No weirdo,s or sex offers please, this is a genuine offer that i will give to only one person"

Please let me be that person!

4. In Paris, we don’t scoff at philosophers. I have encountered more than one person here who, when posed with the age old question “What do you do?” responded by saying “I’m a philosopher.” In New York, this would not fly. If you responded in this manner, it’s likely that whomever asked the question would spew their vintage cocktail all over the table and then write you off as a complete spazz. Same goes for being a novelist. If you go around New York telling people you’re a novelist, they’re going to wonder what you’re really up to. Here, since I don’t really know what I “am,” I tell people the truth—I'm working on a novel—when they ask me what I do. The first few times I did this, I braced myself for rolled eyes and public ridicule, fully expecting to have a glass of Bordeaux thrown into my face. To my amazement, no such thing happened. People nodded their heads respectfully and responded by saying things like “How wonderful. Is this your first novel?” Apparently I’m the only one who thought my being a novelist was completely ridiculous. Oh, you’re a novelist… no big deal. Oh you’re a philosopher… sounds good to me. Oh, you wander the streets and look pensive for a living? Nice. If there is judgment in the air, I cannot sense it.

Paris, you're delightful. 


Anonymous said...

Cete poste est tres drole, mon petit bijou.

Anonymous said...

I like your blog garbage bitch

hadley said...

My friend met a (I'm going to assume) Mexican named Jose at a bar last week and every day texts her 'Bisous!' Even Mexicans want to be French!

maitresse said...

hey, I agree in principle with #1, and at least 95% of the time it's flattering-- but it can definitely get uncomfortable and even violent. I was once sexually assaulted in front of the ENS in plain daylight. I don't think there's anything I could have done to prevent it. Other friends have told similar stories (in metros, in phone booths). Just keep your guard up.

as for #2, oh yes oh yes, this is a great city for happy hour! say the word and I'm there.

Jean-Laurent said...

I love this post


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