“Paris is always a good idea.” Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
It should be noted that only Parisians are allowed to complain about Paris. No one else. Not even French people. Actually, especially French people. For those who travelled to France or lived there, you probably noticed that Paris and the rest of the country haven’t got much in common. We don’t look, speak or even think the same way. That said people’s attitude is probably what varies the most. Yes I know, Paris is far from perfect, believe me I experienced the finest as well as the unsettling and plain weird. But you’d have to live there for many years just to get a realistic overview of its qualities and flaws and to earn the right to bitch about it. The latter should nonetheless be done in an objective and respectful manner. I say respectfully because no matter what my feelings are at the time, I’ll always be in love with this city. Paris to me is just like with every great love, it’s complicated.
My hairdresser the other day told me that he wasn’t a fan, never really was. That he didn’t like the crowd there, the vibe, the pace, and so on. He stayed in Paris for a week. How anyone can pass an informed judgment on this city in 7 days baffles me. He sounded like an expert on the subject, as he did everything that was worthy of doing, such as… wait for it… climbing the Eiffel Tour! For the record, Parisian do not go up there, and neither do we stroll down the Champs Elysees. There is nothing Parisian about these spots, trust me. You’ll just end up getting ripped off.
It’s upsetting really to see people so quick to disregard a place with such incredible history, culture and character. They go in with so many preconceived ideas and planing down to the last detail that they leave no room for magic and astonishment. Paris just become one giant tourist attraction, where each recommended spot has to be ticked off. And that’s it. To denigrate Paris is something that I take very personally. It’s a bit like talking shit about my boyfriend. And this particular relationship is something of a one-way street: you have little impact over it, but it definitely fashions you, whether or not you want it too.
I worked part time in a French restaurant and a customer told my supervisor that I sometimes appeared cold, distant, even a little blue. When he heard that I was from Paris he totally got it. And with that comes the widely accepted stereotype that all Parisians are snooty and pretentious. Now this is a terrible reputation that we have here, and some of it is true I have to confess. That said, we are mostly reserve: I find people who display extreme enthusiasm over things plain fake. And by fake I mean dishonest. Believe me, there are things that do send me over the moon, but serving you an onion soup isn’t one of them. But beyond this, it really is just part of our culture. It’s just the way we are and feel comfortable being. It isn’t against anyone, so don’t take it personally.
I miss this city… most of the time. Even when I go back, I still discover new places, streets, shops and restaurants. I still get lost, sometimes intentionally. A little tip if you ever go there: lose the map and start walking. It’s the best way to enjoy this city, trust me. And remember that in Paris you’re never truly lost; just stumble on a metro stop and you’ll be sorted.