You know you’re in Paris when…
1. You sprint everywhere
You sprint for the metro because you can’t bear to wait two minutes for the next one and you power walk, all the time, even on weekends. Your normal walking pace triples because you have to keep up with the crowd or you’ll literally get trampled. Then you realise that tourists and slow or lost people have become your worst enemy.
2. You get annoyed when you have to wait four minutes or more for a metro
In Paris we are so used to having metros so regularly that the second it’s late or you have to wait over the standard three minutes waiting time you get irritated. You will find yourself sighing and texting your friend to say “I’ll be late, no metro for FIVE minutes, can you believe it??”
3. You start to know which are the good and which are the bad metro lines
As you get to know the city more and more you start to understand which are the lines you should avoid. Certain lines become no go areas at certain times of the day/night. It could be that this particular line is always jam-packed, that it’s rife with pickpockets, that it often has problems or simply because it’s too slow. The ten is a ‘slow’ line, the average time between metros being 8 to 10 minutes. If you are on Parisian time and you left your house late but still hope to be on time, the ten is a dangerous way to go.
4.There are almost as many bakeries as metro stations
As well as being on every corner the French have a law about their beloved boulangeries. In France there has to be one bakery open in the town at all times. If a baker wants to go on holiday he or she must communicate with the other bakers to make sure that one of them stays open. This is especially important during the summer where most of the Parisians disappear down south. Those of us who stay still need our bread and croissants on a daily basis. Bakeries are an integral part of French culture and are on almost every street corner.
5. There are problems with the overground train (the RER)
The RER A is the most used train line in Europe but not for the reasons you would believe! It is a hugely important line but it is famous for not functioning correctly. The RER goes from the suburbs into the city centre and there are frequently issues with the line. Just this week the whole line shut down after a driver was attacked, it was total chaos. On a weekly basis something happens on the RER which is guaranteed to disrupt your day.
6. There’s a man with an accordion on your metro
They just love playing accordions, especially when you have a headache or want to sleep. As you become more and more experienced with the metros you will jump on and straight off again as soon as you see or hear that accordion.
7. A strike doesn’t surprise you
The SNCF are on strike? The Air France pilots are on strike? Just a regular Tuesday in Paris! Striking is a way of life here and one that you just have to get used to.
8. It takes 6 months minimum for any paperwork to be done
I applied for my carte vitale (health card) last June and I got a letter in July explaining that they had received all my documents. It’s now February and I have absolutely no idea what is happening. Are they still dealing with my file? Did they place it under a coffee mug and forget about it? Who knows. 8 months down the line and I am still no closer to getting my health care sorted out!
9. You assume you’ll queue for everything
I don’t know why but there is always a queue in Paris. It doesn’t matter where you are; the supermarket, the doctors, the post office, the metro, the gym, the pub. Get ready to get in line!
10. You pay through the nose in taxes
France has a higher tax burden than any other country in the euro zone apart from Belgium. In France we pay both taxes and social insurance contributions. The French see a distinction between the two but for expatriates who don’t 100% understand all the random deductions on their A4 page payslips, it’s simply taxes, taxes and more bloody taxes.