Life in Paris

15 Things I learned in 2015 (By Ellen Coté)

This week’s first guest writer is Ellen Deninger!See original image

Ellen is a student from Boston, Massachusetts currently living in Paris for an internship. She loves blogging about her travels abroad to give her family and friends a glimpse of what her life is like in Europe.

Ellen’s most recent blog will make you laugh out loud, and if you are an Expat living in Paris, it will undoubtedly have you nodding along in agreement. Find out more about Ellen’s time in Paris by clicking here: Euro Ellen

1) Do NOT wear gym shorts or neon sneakers when exercising. It may be fine in the comfort of your own home, but as soon as you step outside you will receive many stares of disapproval. The French seem to have a dress code for exercising: black cropped tights, a neutral colored t-shit, and black or white sneakers. The neon exercises apparel trend has not hit France yet, and I doubt it ever will.

2) Bright colored clothing is also on the list of things not to do. I have noticed that every time I wear a brightly colored top, people comment on “how bright” it is, or “how colorful” I look. I have learned that this is not a compliment, it is merely a statement that really means “how strange of you to wear that.” The French prefer neutral colors, particularly grey, black, and navy blue. I still throw in a pop of color every now and then, but I am prepared for strange looks when I do!

3) The metro is always the better choice. Waiting more than three minutes for a train is extremely rare, and the trains are so quick, In Boston, the trains wait for people, and are often delayed by passengers stopping the doors to let other people on. In Paris, that just won’t fly. The doors of the metro stop for no one, and (most) people know better than to try to squeeze through at the last minute. The doors will literally close on you and hurt you.

4) Speaking of the metro, it’s pretty funny if you listen to the announcement at each stop. It announces the name of each stop twice. The first time, the voice goes up at the end like it’s a question. The second time it says the stop name with conviction, as if it is confirming its previous thought. Bellevile? {pause} Belleville.

5) Starbucks has pumpkin spiced lattes! This requires no explanation. If you;re a New Englander, you’ll understand.

6) Receiving ice in your drink is rare. And if you do receive ice in your drink, be prepared for a single ice cube which will melt within minutes. The French do not like their drinks cold. Water is always room temperature, and beer is slightly colder than room temperature. The only exceptions I’ve noticed are white/rose wine and mojitos. Mojitos come loaded with crushed ice, and white/rose wine is typically chilled in an ice bucket. But if you ask for your drink “avec glace” the waiter will give you a strange look, and likely not bring you any ice. (Disclaimer: I have now learned that to ask for the ice the correct word is glaçons, and glace describes ice cream, oops!)

7) Crepes are everywhere, and they are just as good as you would imagine. My favorite is banana, nutella, and coconut.

8) Hard cider is extremely popular, and delicious! It is nothing like the Angry Orchard or Magners we have in the states, it is fresh and crips and extremely flavorful!

9) A glass of wine is cheaper than a bottle of water. At least in most restaurants. Oh, and did I mention you can buy most bottles of wine for €3 at the grocery store?

10) SVP – what does it stand for? S’il vous plait, “please.” You will often see this shorthand written on signs.

11) Dinner is eaten extremely late. You may see restaurants packed at 5 or 6pm, but no one will have any food at their table. It is only drinks until about 8 or 9 pm, when the French begin to eat dinner. Many restaurants are not even open for dinner until 7:30 pm and if you arrive at 7:30, you’ll probably be the only customer (this has been me on several occasions).

12) Dogs are very well-trained, and never on leashes. They trot behind their owner and rarely stray in another direction, unless they need to do their business. You’ll often see a dog sitting patiently outside the grocery store or cafe waiting for its owner to return. I have even seen dogs inside of bars sitting on a barstool next to their owner!

13) Graffiti is everywhere but here it’s called “street art” and it is seen as a beautiful thing, rather than vandalism as we call it in the states.

14) Bring two things with you every time you leave your home: an umbrella, and a reusable “sac” (bag). You never know when you’ll be caught in the rain,  and you never know when you’ll pop into the market to grab a few items and receive a nasty glare if you don’t have your own shopping bag.

15) The most important lesson of all: ALWAYS attempt to speak French before switching to English. You will be treated with much more respect if you do.



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