Feminine Hygienic Products
Tampons and pads are easily available at small and large grocery stores and pharmacies.
Most women I know take the pill, which is available with a prescription from a doctor. It is very cheap (from 7 to 35 euros for a pack of 3 months), and you get reimbursed if you are part of the health insurance system. Condoms are only available at pharmacies, but there also street dispensers for when they are closed.
I’ve found that most doctors have a more minimalist approach than in the U.S., and may also seem less warm and comforting but simply get straight to business. They are still very competent.
It used to be that the American style of dating was not practiced here, but that seems to be changing a bit. Usually people don’t meet strangers in bars though, but rather through friends at parties or out. A date can involve getting a drink or meal or going to a cultural experience like an exhibit.
Types of Men
Men who have gone to one of the business “grandes écoles” or studied private practice type of law, generally very well dressed and metrosexual and pay attention to dress and appearance; more hipster, artsy and intellectual types; and more “roots” types who are into sustainable development, etc. Paris is a big city, though, and I think you can probably find a “type” for almost everyone.
Yes. The Marais is known for being a good area.
Women have the same rights as men, are seeking higher education at high rates, and are active in the workforce. However, in certain contexts men can be much more openly sexist than in the U.S., for example.
French women are more likely to dress in a feminine style, wearing skirts, dresses and heels on a regular basis, even in the winter. They are generally very conscious of their surroundings, and for example will only discuss certain subjects in public, in front of men, and some subjects only with very close friends.
Perception of American Women
Perception of American women varies based on the person’s experience, though overall they are viewed as being more easygoing and casual than French women. Sometimes this is a good thing with no connotations, but it is good to be careful because some French men take this perception to mean that American women are more ‘easy’ and may try to take advantage of that.
Metro, velib and walking are safe during the day. There are general safety concerns such as with biking in a large city with many cars.
Metros are generally safe, even late in the evening because there are usually people out. There are some areas to avoid, such as northeast Paris late at night. If you have to transfer lines at night, try to transfer at a large station such as Chatelet, Gare de Lyon, or other stops with multiple lines where there is more of a chance of more people being around. A couple of my friends have mentioned being in almost empty stations and having a small group of men attempt to follow them, and have recommended always going to busy stops.
Shady Areas for Women
Northeast Paris at times, certain lines of the RER – north on RER B at night, RER A going east on the Torcy branch (Boissy St Leger branch is okay). Try to stay with one or a couple of friends if you are going to be out late in areas further away from the center.
Nothing in particular is unacceptable. A friend who grew up here mentioned that she wears pants to avoid being hassled, because men do make comments even if they are not threatening. Choice of clothing is more a question of whether you feel comfortable with attention when you are out rather than safety.