Sunday, January 26, 2014

23 Things that scare Parisians to death

This week, a funny list has been making the rounds online, and as luck would have it, it was in French. Dommage

I wanted my readers to be able to enjoy it too, so I have prepared a free translation. You're welcome!

The article is titled: "23 Things that Scare Parisians.Do not miss the original story, here: The illustrations are excellent.

Several remarks come to mind when I look at the list. 

  • Things have not changed that much in Paris since I left, in 1996. 

  • Le Parisien, (the Parisian,) is defined as a person living in "Paris intra-muros," i.e. in downtown Paris, within the border created by le périphérique, (the beltway.) You may live right outside le périphérique. If you do, you are not a true Parisian. You have become un banlieusard, (a commuter, living in suburbia,) and that, to a true Parisian, is only slightly better, than being un provincial (someone living outside the French capital.) 

Paris Intra-Muros (in dark blue on the map,) includes
two parks: Le Bois de Boulogne, and le Bois de Vincennes

  • A large part of Parisian life revolves around the [excellent] public transportation system and le Métro (the subway.) 

... but les Abbesses métro station is nowhere near le Châtelet stop!

Are you ready? Here is my best attempt at a translation... 

23 Things that Scare Parisians
(In Paris, you risk your life every day)

French article with h.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s. illustrations

1. Falling down the Metro stairs and dying.

2. Cell phone theft.

3. A strike in the Paris transportation system.

4. Having to act as a tour guide for tourist friends and splitting your day between the Eiffel Tower and Mona Lisa.

5. Getting stuck in a street demonstration.

6. La Bastille square, after a street demonstration (Ed.: Most mass demonstrations end up there, a lively yet horrendous sight.) 

7. Les Grands Boulevards, on a Saturday before Christmas, or during the bi-annual sale season (Ed.: Major Parisian department stores are located near les Grands Boulevards, in the Opéra Garnier neighborhood.) 

8. La rue de Lappe, every evening (Ed.: A small, cobbled street in la Bastille neighborhood, well-known for its nightlife.) 

9. Getting stuck in the subway between two stops for over two minutes with no explanation, and imagining your own painful and inevitable demise. 

10. Walking alone at night in a deserted subway corridor... and disappearing.

11. To be reduced to using one of these one day (Ed.: Photo of a Sanisette, a self-contained, self-cleaning, unisex public toilet in a Paris street.) 

12. Transferring from les Halles métro station to le Châtelet RER stop (Ed.: A logistical nightmare, as these are two of Paris' busiest stations, with mile-long corridors.) 

13. Having the irrepressible urge to use the bathroom while being in the subway.

14. Pigeons inside train stations.

15. Actually, any contact with a pigeon.

16. Having to go to a party on the other bank. 

17. Missing the last subway.

18. ... and having to ride the Noctilien (Ed.: Night bus service for Paris and the suburbs.) 

19. Rats and other disgusting creatures living inside the subway system.

20. Having to ride the RER train (Ed.: Faster, but more intimidating than the Métro, with mile-long corridors.) 

21. Crossing the beltway and heading for the unknown... (Ed.: See my introductory comment about "true Parisians.") 

22. Being pushed on the subway tracks by a lunatic.

23. Paris real estate prices! (Ed.: Photo of a 97 square-foot studio, with a $600 rent.) 

What did you think? Did you like it? I bet New Yorkers could relate to some of these, don't you?

It is time to wrap up, but before I go, I just want to appeal to your better nature. You see, living in Paris involves a lot more than sitting at a café terrace and watching the world go by; nibbling Pierre Hermé macarons; getting Americanized chez McDo or at trendy food trucks. Living in Paris can be stressful. Danger lurks, whether real or imagined. There is no time to smile; or smell the Sanisette... uh... the roses. Living in Paris is serious business, and only true Parisians can put up with that much pressure. The rest of us... amateurs. We can only hope to watch and learn.

A bientôt.


  1. Finding an apartment in Paris (pre-internet) was unexpectedly traumatic for this small-town girl from the Midwest. So much easier today!

    1. Welcome back, Alison. Finding an apartment in Paris is traumatic also for the French, so I can only imagine what it is like for a foreigner! :-)

  2. I have experienced several of these myself and survived. I guess I was lucky. The illustrations are very funny. Have a great weekend.

    1. Merci Michel. You survived… and you invested in a piece of property outside of Paris, wise man :-)

  3. As an ex-Manhattanite, the Metro entries were parallel to my life as a subway rider! Spot on!

  4. Autant de problèmes que les Provinciaux n'ont pas!
    J'aime beaucoup les dessins , ça ressemble à du Sempé (que j'adore)

    1. Bonjour Marie. Je suis sûre que les provinciaux connaissent aussi quelques-unes de ces difficultés liées aux transports ou aux grèves, qui n'arrivent pas qu'à Paris. Il serait amusant de voir une liste similaire pour plusieurs autres grandes villes françaises. Tu devrais t'atteler à celle de Nice. Ca pourrait être très amusant. Bisous et bonne semaine.

  5. Praying I never EVER encounter a rat. Especially not THAT close. ::shudders in disgust::

    I did see the original French article and your translation is perfect. I'd say my own biggest fears from this list are (in no particular order): the pigeons, and the transfer at Chatelet-Les Halles (or the one at Montparnasse).

  6. It's been awhile since I've visited and I smile every time I read your blog. This article is too funny. I'm headed to Paris in May and September and I'm sure I'll think of this list! Nice photo with Rick Steves. I take his packing advice when traveling!

    1. Merci Kim. You are always welcome chez French Girl in Seattle… May and September? Wish I could say the same...

  7. Ha, ha, brilliant! This could relate to London too. My idea of hell is having to visit the tourist trap of Buckingham Palace or being caught on Oxford Street at sale time.

    1. There you. I was hoping some readers would contribute comments about other big cities. I am sure the Parisians are not alone in dealing with some of these "problems…" :-)

  8. Vous êtes vraiment dans les clichés, vous! C'est très réducteur et classique des gens qui ne passent à Paris qu'en coup de vent! En fait, votre blog joue sur les clichés et reste à la surface des choses! Dommage, il y tellement de choses que vous pourriez partager!

    1. Bonjour Chère Babounette. Merci de votre commentaire. Les stéréotypes sur la France et les Français sont en effet réducteurs: Ils sont malheureusement véhiculés dans le monde entier, notamment aux Etats-Unis, où je vis en revendiquant (fièrement) ma nationalité française. Mon blog a pour vocation d'informer, en divertissant. J'utilise principalement l'humour, et l'ironie pour "égratigner" les stéréotypes, les Américains et oui, même les Français, quand ils le méritent. Humour et ironie, comme ici, dans le dernier paragraphe, ce qui semble vous avoir échappé. Il est vrai que le blog est rédigé en anglais. Bonne journée.

  9. Heureusement, il y a peu de vrais parisiens à Paris.

    1. Heureusement :-) J'ai fait partie des "pièces rapportées" pendant 10 ans à Paris (je suis originaire de Toulouse,) et je me faisais souvent la réflexion... Je n'ai connu que très peu de vrais Parisiens. Mais ne dit-on pas: "On ne naît pas parisien, on le devient" ?

  10. Sitting outside a pavement café, nibbling Pierre Hermé macarons had me dreaming there!! An entertaining and lighthearted post and the last image in particular made me smile. I see these cute and clever illustrations are from I reviewed the book on my blog quite a long time ago. I enjoy receiving their email updates and I even have their app on my iphone! I've just clicked on your link and read the French article and your translation was excellent! Having just spent a couple of days in London, I'm sure many Londoners can also relate to these too.

    1. Yes they can. A lot of big city dwellers (I am looking at you, New Yorkers,) can relate too. Thank you for your visit, as always, miss b.

  11. These are hilarious!! #12 had me literally laugh out loud, because I've gotten lost there...three times. Once when I didn't speak ANY French. And #3 made me laugh super hard because metro 1 and 7 are currently undergoing major changes at the moment. While visiting my friend Marine told me how the 1 was 2 hours late and everyone was stressed and NO ONE wanted to miss that train, and that she was way too close to people that she didn't know, and that she had chosen the worst day EVER to have worn a skirt. I felt for her. I kept trying to tell her through my tears of laughter that "Oui, c'etait merde!!"

    1. 1 and 7 under construction? Yikes. What about the RER connection? Yikes twice. C'était certainement "la merde," you are correct! :-)


Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle