**Note: this blog formerly was written in in early 2015, but never shared as promised because I felt it was insensitive following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
If you saw my post about the 33 things that I love about Paris, you would concluded that I seem to really love this city, no? Well, yes and honestly, no.
Before I moved to Paris, I read a lot of books about the expat perspective of Paris. And truthfully, every time they gave me warning signs, like how Parisians can be so difficult, and how Paris can be so depressing, I just passed it off as well they are just not positive enough.
Looking back, I am glad that I moved forward with un-wavering optimism..... but now I also get what they mean, and could have been more prepared.
I love Paris, but there are also so many things I hate about Paris too. Some funny, some serious... read on...
Its hard, I mean, really hard to find kale. OK it has vastly improved recently (since I left in 2014), but it's still an issue. I would have to seek out the ONE vendor at the organic market who only sometimes and/or seasonally had kale in stock. One time, the vendor was so reluctant to get rid of it that he gave me the remainder of the box at no extra charge.
Versailles is SO overrated. THERE I SAID IT. It's ridiculously overcrowded, there are way better chateaux and castles in other regions of France and into Germany. I would say avoid the obnoxious crowds and go to Fountainbleau instead.
The guilt of not being fluent in French. This one is very complex. Even now, when I tell people that I lived in Paris, 9 out of 10 times the first thing they respond with is, "So you're fluent in French?" No, I am not fluent in French and I am tired of feeling bad about that! (You try living and working full-time in a foreign country and having very little free time, let alone to learning a language.)
For better or worse, Paris is now very much an international city and an English is spoken regularly. I discovered through trial and error, that switching over the English often granted me more respect than fumbling over my novice French skills. In any case, while I understand it is not the most ideal, I only lived in Paris for 1 year and thus survived without being fluent in French.
The misconception of the short French working hours. It may be different across other areas of France, but generally speaking, I found that people in Paris people worked very hard. Yes, they may have more public holidays and vacation time, but the notion of a "typical" 30 hour work week, with long, frivolous 2 hour lunch breaks over wine, I found completely irrelevant. Most everyone I knew worked well over 40-50 hours a week, and while they may start later (9/10am) I experienced that people typically got home from work quite late (8/9pm or later.)
The Oscar Wilde grave no longer allows kisses. This was a travesty, I hiked all the way through Pere Lachese Cementery with lipstick and his family has shielded his grave with glass.
Honestly, I've never 'beheld" the power of cheese. Sure on occasion I could partake on some goat cheese or roquefort but in general I don't particularly like cheese. (Really, a whole cheese plate, as part of dessert?!) Don't even get me started on the stinky cheeses...
Pollution is really a problem in Paris. It congested my skin, gave my friend asthma, blocked the view of the Eiffel Tour and monuments, closed roads, and enforced some "non driving" policies in certain areas. It really is a problem...
The regularly horrid cafe customer service! To be honest, I got so used to awful customer service that I've been shocked returning to the USA. Why are you asking me how I'm doing? You what, want to refill my water? Smile at me? Initiate pleasant conversation? It was so crazy that good customer service became so foreign to me.
Speaking of customer service, stores often close to incoming customers before closing time! Meaning, when the grocery store says it closes at 8PM, that often means anytime after 7:45PM you will not be allowed to walk in.
Montmartre, the once charming bohemian village of Paris, has become all too crowded and cheap-o touristic in many central areas. It's really a travesty. You really have to wander farther off the beat and track now to really enjoy the true Montmartre.
All of the smoking. It's really gross, and they don't have the same American-attitude (it kills you, it's offensive, it shouldn't be allowed in public places or restaurants.) I once had a boss who when stressed would smoke at her desk around us, with no windows open (major yuck.)
The grey, frequently rainy and dreary weather. They say it's Paris is romantic when it's grey and rainy... but I beg to differ. Often, it's more like, dreary, dark, and depressive. I used to pray for sun!
The super skinny mentality. I figured the Americans were the most beauty-thin obsessed, but I found the super skinny mentality really bad in Paris. The waif skinny look is very, very in.
(Serious One) The large populations of homeless and displaced persons all across Paris. From what I heard through locals, was there is lacking support in social programs/centers to help. It's disheartening that so many people are suffering.
Finding and securing an apartment. Parisians wants to b*tch and moan about this one, but now from experience I understand why. Some of my experiences renting apartments where so frustrating that years later I don't want to talk about it. I'll just leave it with, it's not as simple as searching craiglist.com and signing a lease, because often one has to go through a rental agent and jump through many other legal hoops.
Decadent sweets are everywhere. Yes, this is a problem. Personally, I find it easier to eat healthier in America. Now, hear me out... in America I stick to organic, non-GMO as much as a can, and I don't eat fast food or overly processed foods. Plus, I live in a driving culture, it's not like I'm tempted by dunkin donuts, pizza hut, mcdonalds, etc. But in Paris on the other hand, every other block has a boulangerie (bakery) filled with artisanal, luscious, handcrafted, sweet delights. Temptation is everywhere...
Dog poo is on the streets. It's really gross and I stepped in it once. You really have to watch your step...
Pickpocketing is an all-too common and unfortunate problem. It is especially noted around the Eiffel Tower and other tourists areas. (Note: always watch your stuff and don't ever sign a questionable petition by teenage-looking foreign girls.)
Parisians. (You know I had to go there...) Look, during my time in Paris I lived two great families, worked for/with Parisians, made some Parisian friends, met some of the nicest market venders, had pleasant exchanges with store owners, and even met at true Parisian gem in the immigration office. But that being said, even Parisians don't like Parisians. Parisians have some notorious stereotypes that include being: pessimistic, snobby, rude, distant, bitter, overly-nationalist, and dull. I can't disagree that at times these stereotypes did ring true.
Last but not least, the worst part about Paris is despite this entire list that proves that Paris can be aggravating, dirty, grey, over-crowded, high flawed and then some... people STILL over-romanticize Paris. Being and living there was some perfect, idyllic dream. While I'm grateful for my time spent there, but Paris (like anywhere) is far from perfect. And the overly Hollywood-style notion of Paris is actually infuriating and highly unrealistic. Paris has flaws, and in the end, I love it for it.