Florian and I have just moved out of our apartment after nine months in Paris and we both agree that this time has flown by but we also feel we’ve been here forever.
I kept note of the things I noticed over the last year and thought I’d share them all with you. Any Frenchies reading who have an answer to the below, please let me know and I’ll add it in!
1: The Baguette Bag
There’s no doubt bread is an absolute daily staple not just in Paris but across France and you’ll find it on the table at every meal. But what I don’t understand is why the boulangeries don’t make a paper bag big enough to cover the entire baguette?
For some unknown reason, the paper bag is only long enough to cover three-quarters of the bread, leaving the top of it exposed. Why not just make a bag that covers the whole thing?
The only reason I can think of is it provides easy access to snack on for the walk home.
I’ve been walking home a few times and have gotten caught in the inescapable rain and have had to stuff the bread in my coat to protect it from the water drops.
Just a suggestion, make the bag longer!
2: Non-accessible metros
In 2021 I’d have thought all metros would be totally accessible for prams, wheelchairs and other physical needs but alas no.
Often Florian would help mothers with carrying their prams up or down the stairs and I don’t even know how people with physical impairments get around the city- the bus maybe?
The newer metro stations like line 14 have both elevators and escalators but the majority leave you stranded.
I hope this is a plan in the future to add more friendly options for those who can’t take the stairs.
3: Why is it normal for everyone in French administration to lunch at the same time?
My whole professional working life, it was rare for every person in the team to schedule their lunch break at the same time. Maybe I’d go 12 to 1 and my colleague then 1 to 2 for example, but in France, if you want to call someone between 12 and 3 good luck getting through!
I was lucky to have flexible working arrangements where I could call before or after these times but I have no idea what you’d do if you worked full-time also and could only call on your lunch break.
4: Why does everyone just accept the French Post is terrible?
During my stay, I had to renew my visa as well as apply for health insurance, both of which required me to mail in a dossier of particular documents.
When it came to the health insurance, we mailed my dossier in November and followed up in January to get an update. We were told my dossier hadn’t arrived and was probably lost in the mail.
Florian and I also sent home care packages for Christmas to our families. While my box arrived within 10 days, according to the tracking number, Florian’s sat at the post office for three weeks before being sent.
A few months later at an appointment with the health insurance, the lady informed us that it’s normal for the post to lose mail or to have it delayed by six months.
Ummm you know that’s not a good thing, right?
How can people just accept that the post office loses mail or takes months to deliver?
I do not understand!
5: Why are the crossings divided in two?
When crossing the road, you keep an eye out for the little green man, check it’s safe to step out and you cross to the other side, but in Paris, it’s not that simple.
Most of the wider streets, roads and boulevards have an island in between the two lanes and two separate green men. So whilst you may see the green light in front of you on the other side of the road, this doesn’t mean you can step out because your immediate side of the island is red.
Even after nine months, I still take a step out when I see the green man on the other side of the street before realising my side was still red.
If you’re able to visit the city when borders reopen, be sure to keep this top of mind!
6: Is it legal to speed in reverse down the street?
Usually when driving, if you miss a turn, you let out an expletive and then continue straight until the next turn and head around the block, or on a quieter street, when safe, make a u-turn and try again.
If you miss a turn in Paris, don’t worry, just pop the car in reverse and drive back down the street.
Missed it by five metres? whack it in reverse.
Missed it by 30 metres? All good, you can reverse down the street, too!
I’m not saying this is only done on empty streets and slowly, it’s always on a street with cars coming towards the reverser, who is also driving very fast!
So when crossing the road in Paris, I’ve adopted this process:
1- Look right
2- Look left
3- Look right, again
4- Check for cyclists
5- Check for scooters
6- Check for cars speeding in reverse down the street
I can’t believe something I’ve dreamt of for over half my life is coming to an end and I will really really miss the incredible friends I’ve made here, the countryside escapes, the chocolate croissants and wandering the streets of this beautiful city.
Paris is exciting and dirty and confronting and awe-inspiring and like no other city and she’ll always have a special place in my heart.