I have a love/hate relationship with Paris.
Although Paris is a hub of culture and the place to live in if you work in media or art, sometimes I just get really frustrated by the city.
I’m always bewildered by the stars in the eyes of strangers when I tell them where I’m from. For most people around the world, Paris is glamorous, sexy, chic, … But that’s because Parisians are really good at make believe and denial (more on that later).
So, here is the truth about Paris.
IT’S LOUD – I’m fine with loud if it’s party-loud. With music and people laughing. But Paris is often loud in another way. People yelling, cursing, and the most annoying sound in the world for city dwellers : honks. The same twenty imbeciles getting angry every morning under my window because yes, sometimes the light is red. Can you believe the nerve of that light ?
PEOPLE ARE MEAN – That’s not true about everyone of course, but Parisians tend to be mean. I don’t know how many times I’ve been pushed in the street or got the door of the subway slammed in my face. Everyday, I see old people standing up in the subway with no one giving their seat up. I understand that people here are stressed out, especially by the fact that everybody else is stressed out. But I’m sure people in other places of the world have tight schedules and worries too, but Paris is still the worst I’ve seen so far.
NOT THAT SAFE – Paris is not that safe. I find it very funny when friends or family get worried that I’m traveling alone. Obviously, I could encounter a serial killer anywhere, but Paris does not make you feel safe, especially as a woman. There’s a lot of talk nowadays about sexual harassment in the streets of Paris. People are slowly realizing it’s an issue, something some of us (the victims obviously) have known for quite some time. I consider myself as a rather brave person, I’m not easily frightened off, but you will never find me alone at night in Paris wearing a dress. Never.
IT’S DIRTY (and smelly) – Again something that tourists don’t seem to notice, but obvious to anyone staying a bit longer in Paris. I remember that the first other capital city I saw when I was a teenager was London, and I was amazed at how clean it was. So, it was possible to have a place with so much people in it and to still keep it clean ? Wow. I guess in London (and pretty much everywhere else), it’s not okay to throw your cigarette butts, gums, plastic bag, and pretty much anything you can find in your pockets just right in the middle of the street. You can if you want though, no one will look at you the wrong way if you do, not even the police. Just watch where you put your feet while you do it.
IT’S POLLUTED – Paris is breaking records on the pollution front these days. At some point in march 2015, it was the most polluted city in the world ! I learned that at the same time everyone else did, when I got back home after walking around all day, breathing the worst air on the planet. Great ! That’s where I get back on my « denial » thing. When I was saying that Parisians were in denial, I was thinking that, if we were not so concerned with keeping our glamorous image.
There’s a lot of solutions that we could try to make Paris better : ban most of the cars, develop the bicycle paths, install solar energy systems, make a law against dropping your garbage in the street, …
A lot of european cities are already doing these things, but we refuse to change (ah, the french …).