Peculiar Paris

October 29, 2010
culture, france, study abroad
Eiffel-Tower-France

Last spring, I spent a semester in Paris. After having lived there for a while, I came to realize how many things about France are simply…funny. Not necessarily haha-funny, just a little…funny. Anyway, just thought I would share some of my random musings about this funny country.

For example:

1. When doing laundry at home, expect to have a washing machine at your disposal and nothing more. Dryers do not exist. Neither does water softener. This leaves your clothes with this almost starchy feel to them – that is, after they have spent the good part of two days air drying.

2. When you are ready to go home after a night of fun and it is 1:30am, don’t expect to find the metro open. DO expect to find at least one or two crepe stands open every few blocks. Delicious!

3. When sitting in your home, expect to have spotty cell phone service. When sitting underground, on the metro, expect to have flawless cell phone service.

4. Never have I seen more cowboy boots than in France – no joke.

5. It is possible to walk down one street and see eight shoe stores for every non-shoe store. Many of these shoe stores are simply called “Shoestore.” – the French are creative.
– On that note, fashion in France is NOT funny. It is true: pretty much everyone you see walking down the street is beautiful. Students show up to class (even at 8am! looking beautiful). Is there a pressure to look “fashion forward” and “hip” in Paris? Absolutely. It’s almost impossible not to feel it. HOWEVER, living in a high fashion city makes it very easy to hop on the fashion train and fit right in!

6. The pastry/coffee shop, Paul, may know what it’s doing in terms of delicious treats, but they still have a lot to learn about the “to go” concept. A Cafe Mocha is typically served with chantilly cream (fancy shmancy whipped cream). However, when you get it “to go,” you will receive a to go cup, filled with cafe mocha, and topped off with a small mountain of chantilly cream about 4 to 5 inches tall – very practical for an on-the-go customer.

7. Many times, while on the metro, you will encounter performers. Some of these performers choose to do a karaoke-style performance. There is one man in particular, who works the 1 and 2 metro lines, sings songs in Spanish, particularly “Besame Mucho.” This man, however, has not bothered to learn the actual words to the song. Though I have seen him perform repeatedly, he never gets the words right, and usually ends up repeating the same three sentences for the song – but hey, we’re in France, no one will notice.

8. Back when ice skating rinks were still up and running, it would not be surprising to find a large group of young children (ages 3 – 13) skating along to Lily Allen’s hit, “F*** U.” Always a great, kid-friendly song.

Oh France. You are too funny.

About Nicole Lugo

Nicole LugoNicole Lugo studied abroad in France during her junior year at Columbia University.

2 thoughts on “Peculiar Paris

  1. Avatar
    Casady Monroe
    May 24, 2011
    Reply

    J’aime beaucoup your observations on peculiar cultural differences! Glad to read a blog about discovering differences, as I always enjoy the quirks of various countries I visit.

  2. Avatar
    Deborah Eve
    March 13, 2011
    Reply

    Not sure your observations are “funny,” but more a commentary on how you see the world through an American cultural lens. Most people in the world don’t use dryers–don’t waste energy and resources when hanging clothes up to dry still works–and wind is still a free natural resource. As far as “to go” goes–ever just enjoyed doing something slowly and actually focusing and what you are eating. Not to mention enjoying someone’s company while you do it? Why do you want France and the French to be Americans?

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