Top 10 Complaints or Clichés in the City of Lights

By: Melissa Ladd

Cafe Louis Philippe
Cafe Louis Philippe
Complaint : Le service is nul.
Yes, it can be. I have been a victem of it many a time. I have tried, asking nicely for better service, I have tried indicating my lack of time in advance...I have even rebelled against it in the most ungraceful of ways. No matter. The service may improve for the span of a lunch, or if you make like you are about to actually purchase an expensive item, but you'll always find it lacking a meal out in the near future, or another quick spin in a boutique. It is a part of the scenery here but must be an acquired taste no doubt. And it has occured to me, after all these years, that the best defense, is to just deal with it, in an un-phased très Parisian attitude, even if it makes you late. Besides, everyone in this city is always late. And then, when the service is wonderful, you'llbe pleasantly surprised !

Laduree Love And Pink Champagne
Laduree Love And Pink Champagne
Cliché : La Tour Eiffel !
A romantic glance or picture against the backdrop of the sparkling Eiffel tower ! Some Parisians hate the Eiffel tower. But my best friend loves it. And she is Parisian. Moi ? No, I never get sick of watching that thing sparkle. Ever. I have been here over 10 years now, and I still stop in my tracks, even if it's just for a few moments, to watch the Dame de Paris light up in the night. I mean really, we have a dazzling tower that twinkles in our city ! Who else can say that !!!

Complaint : Rudeness in the metro.
Yes, and it smells. You'd be pushy too, to get in and out as fast as possible, if you had to commute on it twice a day. 'Nuff said.

Cliché : Those pretty pastries. Namely... macarons.
Are you sick of hearing about Paris and macarons ? I'm not. Have you tasted them ? Just try one. Then, you won't mind hearing about them daily. Go on, and I bet you'll intragram pictures immediately !

Paris Real Estate
Paris Real Estate
Complaint : The paperwork.
It is a rite of passage. Raise your hand if you agree. Perhaps even a kind of sorting process. « You sure you want to be here that bad ???  Well here, navigate the administrative process, and then we'll see if you've got what it takes to live in Paris ». And once you have made that happen, it's not over... Did you know that in order to get your retirement in France, you need to keep all your pay stubs ? Yep, that's 40 years of pay stubs. Not kidding. Do you know how to say « fire-proof safe » in French ?

Cliché : The French are fashionable.
It's true, usually. Even in the chicest American shopping mall, I think you'll find Parisians are more chic just hanging out in some dive bar in the Marais. Let's just agree that it's part of their DNA. And my advice for adopting some of that French chicness ? Don't over-do it on the accessories and wear great shoes !

Eiffel In Pink
Eiffel In Pink
Complaint : Paris is over-priced.
Oui. Not going to argue that one. I would say that it is a question of supply and demand. Paris is small, and is the most visited city in the world. Yep ! So naturally, when the demand grows so does the price, and our buying power shrinks. Also, there is a crisis going on, which although it has not yet affected the luxury, aerospace, or eco-environment industries, nor has it put a dent yet in Paris real-estate prices... Parisians too feel the sting of the crisis.

Cliché : The bike, the baguette and the bichon frisé.
Sure....Um hmm. In Paris we have all the time in the world to go from point A to point B on a cute city bike (in heels and a skirt, or a suit and tie), without getting a single wrinkle on our impeccably chic outfit, we don't prespire either of course, we all carry our darling little dog in a Hermès bag and purchase our baguette on the way home which we place in the basket of said bike along with the puppy. It paints a nice picture, but uuuuh, remeber the previously mentioned...Métro ??? Yeah. Voilà.

Palais Royal Bike
Palais Royal Bike
Complaint : Parisians are snobs.
No, I wouldn't say snob... I would say socially chic. Can we coin that term please ? Socially chic, meaning... there is a barrier between us and them, until they know you.

Cliché : Le temps de vivre.
That moment when you are sitting on a café terrace, with a stream of sunlight warming you as you watch the pedestrians pass by, lounging for an hour or two over coffee or wine... Yes, Parisians do this too (preferably on Sundays). So go ahead, indulge !

About the author

Expat Blog ListingMelissa Ladd is an American expat living in France. Blog description: I came to Paris one year as a study abroad student, yes... I know, SO typical!, and I decided to make it my home.
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Contest Comments » There are 12 comments

Lindsey Kent wrote 11 years ago:

I love this!! Since living in Paris I've definitely become accustomed to the Sunday afternoon indulgences on a terrace...and maybe Saturdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays too. haha ;)

Leonor Heleno wrote 11 years ago:

Great article!! And soo true! xx

La Berne wrote 11 years ago:

Good analysis! You really are a true parisian I live the term "socially chic"! A

Soumi Basu wrote 11 years ago:

I had an 'oh I know' smile the entire time while reading this article. So true for all expats in Paris I think. What I would like to add, which is also a cliché, is the difference between the French and non-French way of raising children. I have a very active three year old and I am amazed over and over again how well behaved these French children are. :)

Paulina Alenkina wrote 11 years ago:

Well done! Le service est nul? Yeah. Nullissimo! I have learned to enjoy and laugh at it, really... When you are sitting down at Angelina (next to Jardin Tuleries, mind you) and a waiter asks you to pay now, as he must break for lunch... I just laugh and pay and then take another 45 minutes finishing my meal and laughing to myself...

Tonja wrote 11 years ago:

Thanks for these! I'm going to Paris for the first time in June, and I'm sure I'll experience many, if not all, of these cliches and complaints. At least now I know a little of what to expect. :)

Henrietta wrote 11 years ago:

I love the 'socially chic' . I 'll have to borrow the expression and the three Bs :)

William Moriarty wrote 11 years ago:

Great article! So true in my experience!

Mary Fox wrote 11 years ago:

Couldn't agree more! I'm absolutely not sick of hearing about yummy sweet treats!

Fabien Coppens wrote 11 years ago:

Great job, Melissa !

Gail Boisclair wrote 11 years ago:

Very good analysis Melissa and I think that people need to remember that Parisians are not snobs - they simply do not respond well when people forget simple words like 'Bonjour', 'Au revoir', 'S'il vous plait' et 'Merci' !

Natalie Gibbens wrote 11 years ago:

Your posts always make my day. Can't wait to visit Paris!

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