In defence of this city…

12 Oct

I feel the need to have a rant. I’m all fired up and i am sick to death of hearing people bitch and moan about living in Paris.

I come across people every day who complain about the fact that they are forced to live here – a prisoner in this awful city – at the mercy of their relationship, or less often, their job. Really, so many people who feel the world owes them a favour because they are forced (yes, someone put a gun to their head) to endure the pain and agony of having to drag themselves through life in Paris.

And my how difficult it must be to have a partner who can assist you with all those impossible tasks like administration, moving house, learning French, opening a bank account, reading the newspaper, working to earn a living. What a bore to have the whole day to yourself to breath in the city and indulge in some new or lost hobbies, with enough money to treat yourself to lunch on the terrace of a bistro, or load up on incredibly fresh goodies from the market to cook at home.

I’m not saying that life in Paris is not difficult.

Some days, particularly lately, it has been really difficult to exist here myself. Single, without a job, digging myself further and further into debt until the line of credit has expired. Days have gone by when, after checking every pocket and every bag, i’ve been unable to scrounge together the last 20 euro cents i need to be able to buy a demi-baguette, and instead, i’ve gone to bed hungry.

But still i get up, and i continue on. Of course I complain about the job rejections i get on a daily basis to anyone who will listen, and i have a little cry at night if i feel the need, but i know it’s up to me to make the most of what i have, and i don’t blame Paris.

I could continue to feel sorry for myself, but instead i rejuvenate my soul by throwing myself back out into the dense, humid energy of the city and embrace the ability (that everyone has) to take what i want out of Paris and make it my own.

Everyone is in charge of their own life. There is no one in the clouds, pulling the strings that make our legs walk, or our arms dangle. Start making decisions for yourselves people and stop blaming circumstance (and Paris) for your unhappiness.

The harder the search for fulfillment, the more rewarding it is when you find it. So stand up, get out of your apartment and put in some effort.

Paris is not the answer, it’s the means. And when it’s no longer fulfilling? I’ll leave.

Because these are the choices i make.


18 Responses to “In defence of this city…”

  1. ksam October 12, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Geez, those people should thank God they are in Paris and not in a small French town in the middle of nowhere, with no Starbucks, no American grocery stores, no movies in VO, no WHSmiths, no one staring at you because you’re the only foreigner around for miles, etc. Paris is cakewalk compared to most of the rest of France!

    PS. Sorry I know my mini-rant was slightly off-topic, but those people annoy me too. So good for you for continuing to wake up and give it your best every day!

  2. Poulette October 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    lol, thanks Sam,

    I’m just so sick of hearing the same story over and over and over again. Honestly, if you don’t like it, piss off somewhere else, and leave your beautiful, ‘paid for by your husband’s job’ apartment behind for someone that wants it. Huh.

  3. villy October 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    Ooooh, so much to say, but I will keep it short. I agree with this. I have had a similar experience to this with someone recently and I found I went home feeling oh so drained everytime we met. If I feeling low, I always head to a park with a good book – it’s a good pick me up.

  4. Jean-Marie October 13, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    I couldnot agree more with you, Poulette
    Life is like une auberge espagnole, where you eat what you bring to it yourself.
    Having said that, life in Sydney for example is a lot easier than in Paris as in “demarches administratives, general spirit and can do attitude, and that’s the reason why I left.
    Having said that, I was in Paris this week-end, and got tangled in traffic and other morosities linked to the “Mondial de l’Automobile”,
    and didn’t evem managed to have a decent meal Saturday night (The Bordeaux was nice, though…)
    I am now in Les Sables d’Olonne in Vendee, and the summer crowds are gone and my sister and myself have this lovely beachside resort all to ourselves and can dine on huitres, foie gras, chevre cheese and Muscadet to our bellies content!
    Douce France, doux pays de mon enfance as Charles Trenet usedto sing…

  5. Anna Van Sant October 14, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    That was the worst part about study abroad – having to listen to the hate on Paris crowd blame Paris and France for all their woes. And when they got back to the US? It was all about missing Paris.

  6. Adam October 14, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    I wasn’t unhappy until I read this – now I’m feeling very sad! It sounds like you live in a Zola novel. Still, I’m sure you’ll find all you’re looking for soon. What you say about Paris is right, everything is here if you look hard enough for it.

  7. MDTaz October 14, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    I couldn’t agree more. I have my gripes about the city, I know the ups and downs of being expat. And still, with the all the French shrugs and the ce-n’est-pas-possible” and the system-D and the traffic-halting-strikes and the why-are-they-doing-inventory-at-the-G20-during-peak-shopping….etc… I still walk across the Pont Louis Philippe and pinch myself because I GET TO LIVE IN PARIS. It’s a privilege to live in such a stunning city with such a rich culture. Thanks for reminding me.

  8. Poulette October 14, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    Jean Marie – Life is like an Auberge Espagnole. Can i have permission to throw that out there on a regular basis?! I love it! I guess it came from the European Forest Gump. Although if it were the French version it would be ‘Life is like a Baguette Tradition, if you don’t know how to get a good one, don’t eat it’…ugh, i lost the point there.
    Anyhoo, Yes i know what you mean about Australia being easier. And it is precisely my point. Living here requires a far greater physical and mental exertion, so you have to be sure grab the highs for all they are worth as well.
    Next time you need a restaurant in Paris email me!!

    Anna, huh and i didn’t even vocalise the word ‘American’!!

  9. Poulette October 14, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Thanks Adam!

    And thanks MDTaz – couldn’t have said it better myself (and didn’t!) and for the reminder, you are welcome!

  10. The Everyday Minimalist October 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm #


    If they don’t like it, move. BF hated France, he moved. Now we don’t really like Canada, we’re going to move.

    People make their own destiny and have their own choices to account for. No one forced them to live there. Learn another language and leave. Or just leave. People do it all the time, crash courses in language in another city..

  11. Polly-Vous Francais October 14, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Bravo, Poulette! I agree 100%.

    For 3 years, every day in Paris wasn’t perfect, there were some hassles to be sure, but every day was filled with wonder and inspiration. And baguettes tradition!

  12. Parisian Fields October 15, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    When I was a student in Paris long ago, I had so little money that I came back home suffering some of the strange effects of malnutrition (!). I spent what little money I had on my Metro pass, my language courses, and admissions to art galleries and theatres. And I would do it all over again, given the chance. I figured eating was something I could do later. I was happy, I was sometimes lonely, but I was utterly absorbed in the culture. It amazes me that people who find themselves in Paris with a partner and a secure source of funding and food could complain about such a situation. So yes, I agree with you completely. I cannot fathom why anyone would complain about being “forced” to live in Paris under comfortable circumstances.

  13. TN October 15, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    Great post…made me think. And maybe change how I look at this city also. The language is pounding me down…but I have to rise above it 😉 Thanks for the words! This too shall pass 😉 Good luck on the job hunt…i am on the hunt for friends…any tips on this? I have tried to join American Woman’s Clubs and The mommy club but no one is respond via email and it makes me think that they are not very active. I have a little baby so it is harder to get out there (plus French school to boot)

  14. Nikki October 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    Bazinga! Ungratefulness is such a despicable character trait. And when it is directed at Paris, a city that the majority of the world counts among the most beautiful cities in the world? Well, that just makes me mad. My family has been trying to ex-pat to Europe, preferably Paris, for over a year now. We have friends who live their and we have spent enough time with them in their tiny apartment to know that their life is by no means “easy”. But it is rich. And dynamic. And full. And they appreciate it.

  15. Poulette October 16, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    Everyday minimalist – thanks for your comment, now that i re read what i wrote i wonder if i am being to simplistic about it, often there are other circumstances involved, but i still really feel that you are only forced to be somewhere if you CHOOSE to be forced (except maybe in real hostage situations). If you can’t leave, embrace what you have and make it work.

    Polly – Agree 100% with you too, everyday IS filled with wonder, whether it is wonder where to go today, or wonder what the hell that woman is saying to me. That’s what makes it so rich.

    Parisian Fields – you summed me up perfectly. But then at the same time, you make me realise that a lot can come out of desperate situations. When you cant eat, or pay your rent, you’ve no choice but to put on a brave face and get amongst it. Maybe it takes more effort to rise the same way from the depths of comfort and security. Just a thought.

    TN – glad you got something out of it. you do sound a bit down though. Lets try and change that eh? I understand that it must be difficult with a baby, in a new(?) city, i am not sure about Mother’s groups as such, but i know that there is a group called ‘message’ which is like a support network for Anglophone mums. You should google them and see what they have to offer. But, on the more social side, you check check out the web address ‘’ search which groups are in Paris that interest you, and join them, get a babysitter, and go to events. It’s honestly how i managed to meet people when i first arrived. I joined the Australian group and made some friends, but there are sports groups, arts groups, dinners, drinks groups, everything. It is an open invitation to make new friends. Just keep putting yourself out there, and if you get knocked down, get up and do it again. You will win in the end. And if you can’t find a babysitter, it’s no excuse…you can ask me.

    Nikki – yep you totally get it. Good luck with the move!

    So most people who have commented seem to agree with my point of view, but i would have liked to see some people comment who don’t! Surely some people would have read this and sworn at me before clicking the little x to close the window…. A little bit of head to head would have been fun.

  16. Anna October 20, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    AMEN! There are a few expat bloggers in these here parts that do nothing but complain and moan and long for their hometowns in the dirty south of America or random corner of Australia. You’re in fucking PAAARIS… enjoy it.

  17. Deux ou trois choses October 27, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    I’m one of the guilty expat complainers but I don’t live in Paris unfortunately, but in rualish France (okay, it’s a town but a really small one). Living in Paris is my dream, I try to go as often as financially possible. Paris has everything anyone could ever ask for (except for people that prefer the countryside of course). I would do anything to move there but the husband is closed on that issue and since I’m more or less miserable living in a city with less than a million people we will probably move to my country (Australia).

    It’s not just expats that complain about Paris though. I have a sister in law who lives in Paris and all she does is complain about it. She never goes out and enjoys the city! I know Paris better than her, which is crazy. She stays home and does the ironing and complains about living in a studio. I don’t really understand that. If I lived in a studio that gives you more reason to get out and explore!

  18. Poulette October 29, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    All over the above is true, and there are worse things than living in Australia i must admit. But yes, it is about finding a balance at the end of the day, and if Australia can fulfill you both, then that is amazing. I guess it’s about making the most out of what we’ve got. And if that’s a studio? Then by all means one needs to get out!!

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