So it’s officially been a week since Florian and I arrived in the city of lights to live for a year. And what a week it has been!
We’re finally over the jet lag and are discovering new facets of the city each day.
Whilst roaming the streets in this beautiful city, I’ve been taking stock of what’s around me and making mental notes to write up in a blog.
Here are seven things I’ve noticed in seven days since moving to Paris.
For too long the French have received a bad rep for being snobby, rude and impolite and after this week, I can affirm this simply isn’t true. The French are very courteous and always greet you when entering a store or elevator and wish you well when departing. Florian has been pushing me to speak French when out and about and the people I converse with are patient and understanding with my efforts and poor grammar. I think tourists may rub them the wrong way when in search for help by not greeting them before asking their question. So a piece of advice, try a bonjour before you ask for directions!
It’s pretty common to hear sirens going off throughout the day more so than back in Sydney. We were at lunch with friends and Florian commented that there were a lot of sirens, to which our friend responded “there are a lot of emergencies”- well ok, that explains it then!
Florian needed to access his social security number and we headed into the equivalent of Medicare back home. One thing I was surprised to see was the employees were in casual clothes. Now I don’t mean business casual, I’m talking about tracksuit pants and sneakers. I’ll need to chat with a fellow Parisian and ask if this was specific to this field of work, or if work attire is usually pretty ‘lax.
Sneakers over stilettos
The recent Netflix series, Emily in Paris, will lead non-Parisians to believe French women walk the streets in sky-high heels and I’m here to set the record straight- they don’t! You’re more likely to see Parisian women power walking down narrow footpaths in sneakers or flat boots with heels only seen every so often. I guess the prevalence of cobble-stoned streets and heels isn’t always a perfect match.
Scoot on over
You won’t get far before you see an electric scooter zooming past you. With a similar system to the bikes we had available in Sydney to hire per hour, these scooters can be found scattered across the city ready for the taking. These scooters move very fast and you need to keep your wits about yourself as some sneaky people use their need for speed on the footpaths.
A different appreciation for food
Growing up we used to eat dinner at six and we’d try and get it all done pretty quickly. We’ve been lucky enough to be hosted by family friends of ours for two weeks to help us settle in. In Paris, the approach to food is very different and something never to be rushed. Each night at around eight, we all gather in the lounge room and chat over a glass of wine and snacks, known in French as apéro. We discuss everything from the news to our day, politics to the history of France. Around nine we head to the table and start dinner, which lasts anywhere between one to two hours and is filled with delicious fresh food and delectable French wines (that go done far too easily). Eating in France is an experience rather than a necessity, and all I can say is, that’s fine by me.
Florian and I have spent the first week hitting the pavement and exploring much of the city by foot. One thing I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to is finding incredibly beautiful monuments, gardens, buildings and sights potentially around every corner. Don’t get me wrong, there is the occasional dog poop on the side walk but it’s such a joy to explore somewhere and constantly be in awe of seeing something for the first time.
With week one done, and only 51 left, I’m sure I’ll be able to write a book on the French way of life by then.
Until then, I’ll just keep on exploring!