What comes to mind when you think of Paris? Baguette, chocolate, wine, sex, cheese, amour? Yes i think these are the most common things you might identify Paris with but the reality my friends is much more cloudy and dark than those pleasurable words i just wrote. Today was just another day in Paris dealing with the bureaucracy and trying to get some sun before it disappears for days. Almost no one wants to talk about how bad things in Paris really are. Every time i read about this city is almost always about the good side of it; it’s like people want to keep it a big secret. But why? Because they want to lie to people back home and pretend that Paris is the most beautiful place in the world when it isn’t. I recommend to visit but never live here. Here are some of the bad experiences I’ve had here so far.
Paris , Je T’aime
Yes yes, we all have heard and read that phrase before; it honestly encourages you to love Paris without ever even being here. I loved France since i was a teenager when i had fallen in love with Napoleon Bonaparte and plastered my room with a lot of his pictures; for some reason i was attracted to him because i thought he was powerful and i didnt’ t care that he was dead. At one point, i even made my little cousins name their two puppies Josephine and Napoleon; all thanks to the love i had for him and his country. It is no surprise that one of my dreams was to travel to France someday and visit all the castles he lived in and to see his tomb.
Later on i read that French was the most beautiful language in the world and i believed it so much that i decided that one day i would also learn this romantic tongue. The macaroons i used to eat back home at The Erewhon markets were not real French Macaroons and i wanted to eat the real thing. The Paris Baguette Korean bakery in Los Angeles would never come close to the boulangeries in France, i was almost sure of that. That dream was alive deep inside me through out many years and so it goes ; one day i met my french husband who brought me to live here in Paris. The journey of my life as a real French woman in society began…blah
Get Your Feet Off The Chair, this is not America!
When we arrived at CDG airport a woman yelled at my kid when she was playing on the waiting chairs. She was very angry at my kid for getting on top of the chair; since i was worried about the meeting place where my husband to be would be picking us up, i had not paid much attention to the angry lady until i heard her tell my kid something in French. “Get off the chair! This is not America!”. Even though i laughed about it and didn’t really pay much attention to it at that time, i told my kid to get off the chairs but i still couldn’t believe that someone would actually yell at a kid instead of talking to the parent.
When i told my husband the story, i laughed about it thinking that it had been funny and accurate to all the stories about the French being grumpy and all. Believe me, that was the birth of pains in France. My husband warned me about France’s ways and the rude Parisians but i smiled about it happy to be finally here. I was sure i would be able to take it, to love it, and never complain like they did. As we parked the car he told me ” All the cars are stick shift here so you are going to have to learn to drive this kind. And you can only drive for about a year with your license after that you have to take another driving test and go to driving school which will be about 2000 euros, it’s the law here. I am not sure we want to pay that just to drive here no?” I didn’t care, not yet; everything was funny and cute and laughs. But soon after arriving, i noticed that even my husband complaint about things that i would usually not complain about in LA, like about the weather, the pedestrians,the dog poo, and other things.
Where The Sun Go?
The fist three months were a delight! I loved the weather, it was just as hot as in LA! Not at all like French people had told me about. That first summer turned out to be a great one and i even got to visit the South of France. It was the perfect weather to wear all my little skirts and dresses. Once September arrived it got a little bit more cooler but still nothing to complain about. I wondered why my husband kept urging me to buy big puffy jackets at the local marchet every time we went. He seemed worried and kept checking to see if the owner of the apartment had turned the radiators on. November rolled in and i could no longer wear any of my California clothes. It was pretty cold but nothing to make me cry, that is until one late night while in bed. Before that night i had thought that the weather channel had been wrong again, i was sure of that; they were saying it would be -12 degrees in Paris, that seemed crazy for me.
What does -12degrees feel like? I wondered when i had heard the weather forecast before bed. That night, as soon as the sun had set, i felt the temperature dramatically drop little by little,i felt it on my bones. I ended up wearing five pairs of socks to bed that night because i just couldn’t take it. After that the days became shorter and the temperature kept dropping below 0; it was something i had never experienced in LA. On top of that, it seemed like the sun had decided to hide its pretty warm face behind a blanket of gray clouds for days on end and then months. It started raining almost every day that we began to count the days until spring arrived so we could see the sun again; but the sun would not show its face until late May the next year.
Cold Wind,Rude People And More
We visited many restaurants and places around that time and the first encounters with Parisians still hunt me(because they keep repeating ). There was a very rude cashier at Bien Marchet who made faces at us as we asked him questions about the gluten-free bread on display. I had never felt so unwelcomed before; It’s like he wanted us to leave him alone and not buy anything.
I quickly noticed that everyone in Paris wore black and walked as quickly as possible. Soon after i began wearing black too, yes maybe unconsciously i wanted to match the mood and background. Long faces are like a code, a leave me alone code. No one says hi or talks to you, everyone keeps to themselves; specially at metro stations where people push you to the side to pass through. My husband explained to me the rules that must be followed. He said that Parisians think it’s cool to be rude and that is why they act like that way. He hates Paris for this and many other reasons too.
The time we went to apply for my papers to stay in the country the woman at the Prefecture told us it was impossible to do it from France and that i must leave the country. Later on she agreed that it was okay for me to stay in the country after my husband had yelled and acted French in front of her but she still told us that we had to go to a different location. After we went to the different location we waited for seven hours just to make an appointment to go back on another time to ask if it was possible to apply. Finally, after we got the appointment and a list of all the things that would be needed, we patiently waited for the big date to arrive; the big date was in three months!
Another Reason To Hate Paris?
The day came and we had all the paperwork ready. I thought there was nothing standing in my way, even though my husband didn’t seem too convinced that everything would be fine that time either. Once we got there we waited an hour even though we had an appointment. “It’s not bad” i thought and i laughed about it as i ate a home made sandwich instead of complaining.
When they finally called us the lady asked us for the list of things they had requested. My husband handed her all the paperwork ,he was almost trembling of fear or anger. She told us that she needed a no more than three-month old marriage certificate and two bills that showed both of our names on it. My husband was red with fury and ready to blow up. We had about six proof of address letters that she didn’t like, not even the insurance ones. She insisted that they had to be more serious papers that could prove that we were really a serious couple. We had school paper work, insurance, phone bills, marriage certificate, photos and many other things but she refused them and said they weren’t enough.
We were very upset, these things were not specified on the list they had given us the first time. None of the things she demanded were on the list. She said we had to come back and make another appointment. Once we were at the desk to make appointments the uncaring,cold, and rude woman told us we had to go to the building next door to make a line to make an appointment. My husband informed her that we had done that last time and it was about seven hour wait. She then opened the drawer in front of her and handed him a paper and told him it would be easier to go on-line to make an appointment. He double checked with her by asking if it was for everyone because it was our first time applying and she assured him it was for everything and everyone. Well, once we got home we tried making the appointment and we couldn’t . It said it was NOT for first time applicants. We called and the woman who answered explained to us that we had to go back and make an appointment in person.
Why do i stay in Paris you ask? Because i am living my dream that is why! I have seen Napoleon’s things, I’m learning French and i love chocolate. No, not really, i am here waiting for my husband to be able to work in the USA so we can leave! And my kid is doing pretty good with her French too so yeah… I have learnt that dreams are not perfect,and that success always comes with burdens; they are like brothers and that without one you can’t have the other so it’s better to just chill.
Here are some photos of me in Paris sitting next to Napoleon, in his tomb at least 😉