Oooh La La, Paris, la ville d’amour. A city of romance that every girl wishes to visit in her lifetime while in love (or to fall in love, whichever fits your bill) while wearing pretty little pumps and a billowy skirt as she kisses her current love (or new French one) with a picturesque view of La Tour Eiffel behind them.
Au contraire, the beautiful city in Île de France has proven on many counts to NOT be as great as the movies depict it. Instead of romance and fashionistas everywhere, I get streets that smell like Amen’s Alley and a smoking parlour. Yes. You smell urine and smoke everywhere. Including the Metro.
I’m here to ruin all your dreams, or make you have better dreams, (depending on how you take the information in my upcoming articles), from the perspective of a Bajan girl living in Paris.
In all honesty, Paris is great. Just some hiccups here or there, but that’s common with cities. Still, I have this buzz of excitement of being in a new land, away from our tiny island full of friendly people, extremely seasoned food, and warm climate. Of course Paris is beautiful in its own right, and it has very beautiful people, a picturesque view at every turn, intriguing history, amazing food, and a language that if spoken in the right way, could make you want to drop your knickers.
For the fashionista who LOVES a heeled shoe, and wants to visit Paris, here’s a massive disappointment for you:
People are not always dressed to kill. Before coming here to show off, think about those 5 or 6 inch heels that you plan on strutting in along Champs Elysées, Rue Cambon, or Place Vendôme. Those may actually very literally kill you ( if you consider tripping or twisting an ankle on cobblestone death) and not metaphorically kill the people watching you. Or they may die from asphyxiation because they will definitely laugh at your fate, as it will be very similar to this:
I won’t deny that both men and women are extremely stylish, but they dress practically. There is a reason why the majority of Parisians haven’t gained copious amounts of pounds, and its attributed to the amount of walking or cycling that they do here. If you can barely stand up for a fete in heels for an hour at Hennessy Artistry, don’t think you’ll be able to do it in Paris. Unless you intend on being chauffeured to every doorstep, those neck breaking pumps are not advised for your next Paris trip. Wear a thicker heel. Take my advice.
It’s also really shocking that with the general consensus of the French being miserable and always looking angry and their pompous, “better than thou” attitude they are very much raised to be VERY polite like we are at home. Rarely do you enter a store or elevator without hearing the general greeting…
or when you leave, they wish you a good day with a ” Merci! Bonne Journée! À la prochaine!”. We have a thing or two to learn from them about customer service.
If you loathe smoking, or smelling smoke, Paris would drive you nuts. Plenty days have I worn my afro around Paris to come home smelling like a T-shirt after roasting a breadfruit. These French do love their cigarettes. At any point during the day you will find men and women alike smoking. You can’t walk 5 centimetres without someone smoking in your face looking at you like:
It is such an obsession ( or ridiculous addiction ) that there is such a thing as a “smoke break” both in schools and work settings. Could you imagine telling your Bajan boss you’re going (or want to go) on a “smoke break” ? I could hear the nasty “stupse” you’d get from all these miles away!
For those of you who love wunna bellies, here is DEFINITELY the place for you. Especially for the pastry lovers. On no street is there the absence of a bakery. We all know as Bajans that we love flour, and not acquiring a “grosse fesse” (french for a big boxcy) while here is actually impossible. Other than that, the cultural melting pot that is Paris allows for many options for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Although you can’t find any macaroni pie here, and the chicken is seasoned with only salt and pepper in most places, the french do live up to their expectations of extraordinary cuisine. For those who are adventurous, do try the (weird) French cuisine. While I haven’t tried the more daring things like escargot yet (or ever), I’ve tried foie gras which was honestly such a new experience for me. I can’t say I loved it. I’d have preferred some cou-cou.
I’ve exhausted my time here, and you’re probably getting as impatient as the Parisians, so as the French say, “à bientôt”!