Living in another country and engaging with the unfamiliar and strange on a daily basis can be trying for some. Others thrive on the novelty of learning new things, and soon, find they have a lot in common with their host country in terms of likes and dislikes.
It’s different for everyone, but when it comes to Paris, there are things about which both the French and expats in Paris mostly agree.
And here they are:
1. Food for every mood.
Naturally, the French know their food is awesome. The Washington Post announced the addition of French culinary traditions to UNESCO’s cultural heritage list in 2010.
The article said that “UNESCO has included ‘the gastronomic meal of the French’ on its list celebrating the world's ‘intangible cultural heritage’. So, it’s not just the French who love their cuisine, but the planet does, too. Many expats are fans of both old world and nouveau techniques.
The presentation of a traditional French meal is not just pleasing to the eye, but also a joy to the palate—discerning or otherwise.
Not everyone (French or non-French) likes snails or very rich food, but there’s enough variety to suit every taste bud.
2. Wine, so sublime.
Some of the best vintages in the world are from France. And the fact that you can buy wine anywhere in town, whether low-cost or expensive, makes both the French and expats very, very happy.
It’s heady to be able to walk into the grocery or corner store and buy your favorite bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, no fuss.
As an expat, you will get used to seeing wine at all manner of functions, and you too will find it a nice way to relax at lunch or dinner, or while hanging out casually with friends, no matter the time of day.
3. More cheese, please!
Who doesn’t love cheese?
For the non-lactose intolerant, it’s creamy, crumbly, smelly heaven.
France has a fair number of cheeses and you will never get bored with the variety and flavors that are available.
Camembert, Goat’s cheese, Gruyère de Comté, Roquefort, Bleu d'Auvergne, Cantal—these are just a few of the delightful options.
The French have cheese and a baguette for breakfast; a cheese platter is served as part of a traditional French meal, and naturally, it goes great with wine.
Expats tend to agree, if the number of us gathered at cafés, wine in one hand and cheese nibble in the other can attest to.
We just can’t help ourselves.
4. Bureaucracy sucks.
As a resident in France, whether native-born or otherwise, at some point in your life, you’ll have to brave an agency.
It has been said by both the French and the expat that the bureaucrats don’t seem to know themselves what they’re doing.
Who’s to say?
It can’t be fun dealing with a system that is sometimes confusing even for the native.
In other blog posts, I have mentioned going to one of these agencies armed with a book or the ability to play games on your cell phone, all to save your sanity.
A glass of wine before heading out wouldn’t be bad either.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this by a long shot.
5. Great art / world class museums.
If you’ve lived in Paris a while, you’ll notice all the tourists flocking to museums all over town.
And that free Sunday once a month?
Of course, as a newcomer to France, you’ve probably done this, too, as you got acquainted with your new favorite city. But the reason people are so mad about the museums in France is because they are fabulous, world class places.
The French know it, and expats do, too.
So many famous artists have made their home in France over the centuries, and the fruits of their labor are on display for all to see.
And it’s not just art.
There are museums about the history of the water supply; architecture; Édith Piaf; the process of perfume; smoking paraphernalia; the list goes on. It’s a cultural mecca, as well as a leader in the arts.
6. Beautiful parks.
Château de Versailles
Yes, I had to add this in as well. The parks in Paris are sublime.
They are beautiful, well-maintained works of art that give hours of joy and contemplation as they are perused.
You get to see Paris from a whole new angle, and the French treat parks like the treasures they are.
Expats definitely fall in line and show their appreciation, too.
7. Dog poop everywhere.
PLEASE, this is a private passageway. Thanks for not allowing your dogs to leave
their excrement wherever! Image courtesy Ouiinfrance.com
The dog culture in France may be a little different from what you’re used to.
There will be poop on the sidewalk, which is a nuisance to everyone.
The French are aware of the problem, and a campaign is ongoing with signage and fines in order to encourage people to clean up after their pooches.
Until it catches on, though, watch where you step, because French citizen or not, you’re likely to land a well-shod foot into a gooey mess right outside your door, and you won’t be happy.
8. Twenty-four-hour bicycles.
I don’t know about you, but the idea that I can rent a bicycle from a place like Velib twenty-four hours a day is very attractive to me.
I don’t have to limit myself to depending on friends or a car to go somewhere in the city.
And the French love it, too, from the number of bicycles I see daily on the street.
Bicycles are easy to rent and there are a variety of options for your wallet that are inexpensive. There are hundreds of stations in Paris.
And while it’s laudable that you want to ride home from your friend’s party after you’ve had that fifth glass of wine, perhaps walking, or a taxi might be better…
9. Transportation options are awesome.
Both the French and expats in Paris find traffic irksome. But the alternatives are to die for.
Not so long ago, in another article, I talked about the wonderful transportation alternatives available in Paris if you don’t want to deal with a car (or aggressive drivers).
Riding the bus is roughly 2.00 euros (half price for children aged four to nine years) if bought individually and about 15.70 euros for a book of 10 tickets for adults.
A taxi in the city limits is 1.50 euros per kilometer, and a little more at other times. A combined rail pass for the Metro is definitely a great buy.
The bicycle, which we just mentioned, is awesome, too.
Walking? A no-brainer.
It’s easy to see why the French are enamored of their modes of transportation, and it’s something that expats appreciate, too!
You get to see more of the city, perhaps interact with the locals and improve your French.
What’s not to love about that?
Let’s not forget that dark, addictive brew that has caused wars so supplies could be replenished. Espressos in tiny cups may seem cliché, but it’s a regular sight throughout France.
The French and expats alike pander to their craving every day, no matter the time or place. You can get the really fancy, expensive stuff, or search around for cheaper and just as tasty coffee using this handy map.
Over to You!
Did you enjoy this article?
Are there other things you can think of where the French and expatriates agree?
Please leave a comment below.
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