I arrived in Paris 1 year and 7 months ago and I was in awe. Of course, I had been to Paris before, at least 10 times, but always as a tourist. So waking up on a Saturday morning and deciding to go strolling around île Saint-Louis, à l’improviste evening visits of the Tour Eiffel, eating baguettes whenever you want? It was a dream coming true!
And so I started living here and Paris surprised me in many ways. Independence by bike for not even 30€ a year, a swimming pool on the Seine in walking distance, the discovery of those delicious macarons and the realisation that people didn’t dress up (make up, short skirts) to go out! Vive Paris!
It was only recently that my dream image of Paris was shattered. Why? Because I’m leaving. Yes, not the other way around: I’m not leaving because I don’t like Paris anymore, I’m leaving and suddenly, Paris stinks… It stinks a lot. And almost everywhere. It’s as if people think it’s ok to use the streets of this amazing city as an urinoir. And with this, my mind started looking at Paris in a different way.
The difficulty of finding a flat and needing to document your entire life to get one, the hostility of people working in bars/restaurants/phone companies/social security services. Ever heard of customer service? I don’t think so… The dog poo on the streets, the dirt everywhere… The “well what can we do?” attitude about all the homeless people and those searching for food in garbage bins.
And finally, the pessimism. It’s a weird thing. An example: my company (English, international) has just introduced an amazing new employee benefit: all employees around the world get a day off on their birthday. This was announced yesterday and effective immediately. First reaction online from my English and American colleagues: “Amazing!! Great news!” First reaction in the French office? “Oh no, this can’t be serious, my birthday was last week/month.” Really? Really??!!
So I sigh and I think about how to bring this first immaculate “I love Paris” feeling back for my last 6 weeks in town. I’m guessing it will involve a lot of biking around, swimming on the Seine, going out in jeans. And macarons, lots of macarons.
And any of your suggestions too!