13 little things I love about living in Paris

There have been a lot of gray days lately. I don’t just mean the weather — I mean my mood. I’ve felt very blah, very meh, and every other sound that’s usually accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders.

I honestly thought about writing down all my grievances in this post. I miss authentic, cheap Asian food. I miss the sun, and temperatures above 60F (why am I wearing a sweater indoors in the middle of June? Wrong, wrong, wrong). I’m frustrated that I can’t fit (nor afford) a couch in my tiny studio, because it could really add that cozy factor that my flat is missing. The list goes on.

A fellow blogger recently said about living in Paris, “Just knowing that you are a resident of this city is an enormous ego stroke.” Yet for me, it’s not — which makes me feel incredibly guilty.

I have a great job, I have wonderful friends, I live in freaking Paris. But I can’t shake the overwhelming conclusion that this city just does not do it for me.

But negativity is never an attractive quality, so I decided to combat all that gloominess and forced myself to think of reasons I love living in Paris. I ended up with 13:

1. My flat

Yes it’s a studio, and yes it is unfortunately couch-less, but nonetheless, my flat is hard to beat (alright, that is a little bit of an ego boost. I’m 23 and have my own place in one of Paris’ poshest neighborhoods? I love my job.) For starters, I’ve got an oven — which, as I’ve mentioned before on this site, is heavenly for anyone who’s spent time in Asia. Freshly-baked scones, anyone?

I also have a balcony, which apparently is not that common in Paris; from said balcony I have a lovely view of the gardens in my backyard and even in June it still smells spring-time fresh, especially after an all-night rainstorm. My neighborhood is also incredibly quiet, so I rarely encounter anyone except the occasional jogger or neighbor.

But what I love most about my flat? The humidity. After years of living in Asia, where clothes take days to air-dry, to have my shirts and jeans dry within mere hours in my Parisian flat is almost magical.

2. Rollerbladers

Rollerblading isn’t just for the children and people stuck in the 1990s — it’s still a legitimate method of transportation here! In fact, there’s even a weekly Sunday blade and I recently witnessed an all-day rollerblading convention in front of the Trocadéro. As someone who used to be a roller addict, and who never got over the loss of her blades, the city’s embrace of rollerblading makes my inner child happy.

3. Metro station buskers

I’ve never heard such talented buskers as I have in Paris, from saxophonists and clarinetists to full on string-octets and jazz bands. For someone who’s played music for over 15 years, I fully appreciate the abundance of music in my daily life.

I’ve found some of the most unusual, most talented buskers play at the FDR metro station. My theory is that because this station sees a lot of foot traffic — it connects the popular lines 1 and 9 — and the long hallways carry sound well, the best buskers get this primo spot. From accordionists to sopranos to er hu-ists, almost every busker I’ve encountered in this station has made me stop in my tracks and actually listen for a little while.

4. Food Quality

I know it sounds odd, but I’m grateful that the French take their food standards seriously. I like knowing that even when I go to McDonald’s or Domino’s, I’m actually going to get proper meat, and not some questionable meat-like substance. I’ve developed a trust in French food that the FDA can’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

5. Line 6

The metro line that takes me to work and class on an almost-daily basis, Line 6 features a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower over the Seine. Ride it far enough, and you’ll also pass the impressive Le Monde headquarters building, which for a journalism nerd is almost just as thrilling as seeing the Eiffel Tower.

6. Café culture

When I first arrived in Paris, I was surprised to find all the chairs at restaurants and cafés facing outward; so that even when empty, it still seemed as if the chairs were nonchalantly judging the people passing by. I love a culture that appreciates people-watching; as well as one that lets you nurse an espresso for three hours as you do so.

7. Trocadéro

Of course, living in the 16th means I pass by the iron lady every day; usually multiple times a day. I love walking onto the Trocadéro in the early morning when it’s empty, before the hordes of tourists arrive — it feels like I’ve got the Eiffel Tower all to myself. I love that in the evening, if I want to see the twinkling light show, I just simply have to walk a couple blocks over. I love that there’s always something going on at Trocadéro; I especially enjoy going at dusk with a bottle of wine and a friend and watching the weekly tango group dance quietly against a beautiful backdrop.

8. Random architecture

I’m always stumbling onto random structures I’ve never seen before, many of which I’m sure had a purpose in olden days, but currently just seem to delight in confusing passers-by. Giant arch? Sure. Ornate church? Why not. These little architectural finds always keep me on my toes and remind me that even if I stayed for years, I will never, ever know all of Paris.

9. Themed metro stations

As much as I despise the Paris metro, I do get a small joy from coming across specially designed, culturally relevant metro stations — like Concorde, which is covered in tiled letters that make up the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen; or Louvre-Rivoli, whose station font, lighting, and featured artifacts makes you feel like you’re in the museum before you even leave the station. My favorite is the Arts et Métiers station, which is lined in copper and feels like the interior of a submarine; evoking Jules Verne.

10. Picnic-ability

With the abundance of parks and public space, at any point I can just grab a random assortment of food, plop my butt down almost anywhere, and eat it: in the jardins, the plazas, even on the steps of churches and buildings. I’m not sure why public eating makes me so happy, but it does.

11. High and low vantage points

There are two things I absolutely love, and almost need, when I move to a new place: a vantage point from which to overlook the city, and some sort of body of water. Paris has Montmartre, which is located on a hilltop and where I go for one of my favorite panoramas of the city; and the Seine, which is perfect for any occasion: romantic afternoon strolls, relaxing post-lunch gelatos, laid-back apéros, or easy late-night wine rendezvous with girlfriends.

12. My neighborhood locals

Even though I’ve never been in his boucherie, the local butcher recognizes me and waves every time I walk past the shop. I also have a favorite cashier at my neighborhood grocery store; she works every day, and because I have the appetite of a teenage boy I find myself at the grocery store nearly every day, so I always wait in her till line so that we can chat. Since discovering that we both speak Mandarin, we’ve only become more happy to see each other and converse in a mixture of French and Chinese that I’ve dubbed Frinese.

13. Cheap and delicious wine, cheese, bread

I didn’t used to care about these foods. While other expats complained about missing a good Bordeaux or a sharp bleu, or bread that didn’t taste like a sweet slab of butter, I figured less alcohol, dairy, and carbs was probably not the worst thing for my body.

Then I discovered French wine, cheese, and bread. For €6 I can enjoy a bottle of the best Beaujolais I’ve never heard of, a wheel of camembert, and a fresh baguette to boot. And now that I know what real bread tastes like, I can’t go back. If there’s any reason I might be scared to leave France, wine, cheese, and bread withdrawal is it.

So life in France isn’t all that bad. What little things do you love about Paris? 

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Comments

  1. Erica says:

    You have an oven? SHUT UP. Seriously, that’s not fair.

    I’m with you on the public eating. I think it’s that you get a sense of dining out without breaking the bank, and indulging in some fresh air as well as your food. It’s not very common here, which is quite sad.

    I really like street art in Paris, and how artistic the city is in general :)

  2. Ana Gaby says:

    I love that I will be there in a few weeks… does that count??? hahah I’ve been there before. Several times. As a a student, backpacker, newlywed, on a sisters trip and on a family trip. This is the first time I will visit with my kids. I’m looking forward to seeing Paris thru their eyes and finding the magic that only little ones tend to discover.

    • Edna says:

      That totally counts! You must be so excited — Paris is quite the sensory overload; I do wonder what it’s like to see it through a child’s eyes.

  3. Ahh, Paris… I love this city more every time I visit it. I’m reminded of how much I miss hearing and speaking French (so much prettier – and easier! – than German). The food and the architecture are the best, especially the every day, inexpensive stuff like baguettes and wine. Even after being over here for only two years, I’m appalled at what I thought was good food in the States. The architecture in Germany is much the same. It’s become a joke every time we’re on the road here where we almost begrudgingly say ‘ugh, another castle’ every time we pass one, as it is nearly every 10 minutes.

    How can you not love the Paris Metro?! As someone who spent every day for years on the very dated and dirty public transport of the SF Bay area, and has been on trains in countless major cities around the world, I’d call the Metro my favorite, by far. Admittedly, those themed stops might have a little something to do with it. I can’t believe I had never seen the Arts et Métiers station until this last trip – it is truly magical! The maze of underground tunnels almost feel like a Paris adventure in itself.

    I’m sorry you are not loving Paris as much as you’d hoped. I love cities like Paris and NYC, but always wondered if I could actually be happy living there. It’s those little things and the underlying culture that you don’t often see until you become a resident somewhere that really shape your experience. Meanwhile, I’m already dreaming of where we should move next in Europe myself… ;)

    Hope we get to visit again before you take off on your next adventure!

    PS – I am SO jealous that you have a balcony!

    • Edna says:

      Haha I came from the metro systems of Asia; Shanghai and Singapore especially are immaculate and in no way smell like human waste. And I hate the transfers! But yes would love to see you guys again before I leave Europe!!

  4. Is it possible to die of jealousy? I might after reading this.

    I literally found myself searching to see if there’s a demand for my field (speech-language pathology) in Paris after reading this! I’m an American expat in Beijing now and while I love Asia… the lack of cheese is just something I can’t get used to… even after 2.5 years.

    Thank you for taking the time to write these posts! Love your blog!

  5. k_sam says:

    Come rollerblading with us! We do the Sunday roller at least once a month and it is a blast – there is no better way to see Paris IMO! (you can rent rollerblades near the meeting point).

  6. The post was a delight to read, thank you. My lack of the French language leaves me quite “Oscar Wilde” – beautiful city, but full of French. I think it was Haussmann that did quite a bit of Demo and Rebuild in the city center when they wanted it spruced up so a quick look at his work will give more of an understanding of the random buildings here and there. I agree with the food side of things. Ireland has improved greatly in the past 20 years in terms of food quality and I agree with you on the food in France in general (just can’t bring myself to order a burger as “almost raw = cooked”. As for the chips (french fries) – Picardy would have some of the best. American troops fighting in France in WW1 came across Belgian troops cooking potatoes in this way and as they were in France – they were french fries. As for the sofa – having one made can be expensive, but if you can find a good upholsterer, buy a cheap sofa and a saw – then have the bit you use recovered to your taste.
    Your humour – I have read your blog for a wee while now and I would imagine you are coming down from a natural high. Very normal. On the good side, it puts you in a position to appreciate the next high that comes along. Hope you get some sun soon. Thank you again.

  7. I’m missing Paris now! Lucky I have a trip over lined up for August where I shall gorge myself on the amazing (and cheap) bread, cheese and wine – a Parisian picnic is my one of my favourite things.

  8. Loving your post – great photos – thanks for sharing! Have a Great Day:)

  9. roamingtheworld says:

    I loved how you focused on the positive side while feeling down to think up and share the 13 things you love about Paris. I would love to go back and interestingly enough in the last 4 days, I have met 2 couchsurfers who have invited me to visit them in Paris. A sure sign that it’s time for me to make another visit.

    As for feeling guilty that you “should” love Paris, not every city is for everyone. It’s ok. You’re trying it. Youre living there. Maybe it’s just not the right time or maybe it’s not the right city for you.
    Hope you’re feelings get better : )

    • Edna says:

      Thanks — yes, a visit is always a good idea! I think that’s the problem — I probably would have fallen in love with Paris as tourist, but as a place to live I’m not that impressed. Anyway, if you do visit, let me know!

  10. mariflies says:

    A pleasure as usual :)

  11. My first visit in Paris was on my way to college in Ohio, I had to catch the boat train to LeHavre to board the SS America – way back in 1962. I was visiting LesHalles, since then torn down and replaced by the Centre Pompidou. In a side street I struck up a conversation with a pretty young girl when out of the blue the cops raided the house I was standing in front of – as a country boy from Germany I did not realize I was talking to a hooker – she disappeared into that house.

    Many years later I took my 2 daughters separately to Paris for a weekend every summer, we usually stayed at the little hotel Bolivar on the Ave Bolivar. One day, my youngest and her girl friend came along, they had their own room at the hotel which I wanted to inspect. It was sort of like a triangle with the window on the small side. As I looked out the window across the backs of these building, with all the exhaust pipes and protruding roofs I looked up into the distance and there was the Eiffel Tower way in back – what a Paris sight never to be forgotten.

    • Edna says:

      How beautiful! Thanks for sharing your history with Paris; I never imagined what the city must have looked like in the 60s. And what a treasure for you to be able to go with your girls every summer!

  12. Emily says:

    l love the strikes. It’s a nice long walk in the middle of the street with good food, happy people, beer and mojitos out of the back of moving union trucks. And of course the metro. I came from a city that only the poor, homeless and disabled used the public transportation, so it was ridiculously overpriced and not reliable at all.

    I didn’t start to feel at home until I found things like a small indie club where I could actually see the bands playing, a comedy club, vide-greniers to replace yard sales. Not even necessarily stuff I myself was passionate about, but stuff I used to do a lot in California because my friends were into it.

    • Edna says:

      Haha I never thought about that! You’re right though, the people on those trucks always looks so happy. And that’s a good idea — a comedy club sounds lovely.

  13. Ahhhh lovely to hear the little things you like about Paris–I fell right back in love with it while I was there!

  14. Diane says:

    Love the post, can identify with a lot of what you mentioned!

  15. Suzy says:

    Ahh Paris. You don’t make it sound gloomy at all! I haven’t been to Paris in a long time (back when I was 8), but I remember my first taste of French bread and cheese. I couldn’t believe how good it was. Going back home to eat bread and cheese was never the same again.

    • Edna says:

      I agree, it’s an unforgettable experience. Bread and cheese have never been a big part of my diet, but to discover just how good it can be here in Paris…I think that’s one of the things that’s surprised me most.

  16. kapchatheworld says:

    Just came across your blog today. I am so green with envy right now that you live in Paris. It’s the one city that I have always wanted to live in. Am desperate to find a way to get there somehow.

    I totally understand what you are saying about having grey days when living somewhere others think is amazing though. I live in New Zealand at the moment, in Christchurch. Up until about 2 years ago people oooo’d and ahhhh’d about me being there – not so much now though after we’ve had over 10,000 earthquakes. I think I’m having a grey year though. It’s hard to see the good in somewhere when you’re blue. I’ve been asked to write guest posts about what life is like in CHCH now and I’ve found it hard and as yet haven’t been able to as I only focused on what was there but it now closed/fallen down/demolished – what was ‘before’. You’re post has inspired me to look at it through new eyes though – think about what is ‘now’ and what’s open/good/fun/new. So thanks – you’ve really cheered up my day/week/year.

    In relation to Paris there are so many things I love but the main ones would have to be: the language – speaking someting totally different – it’s been too long since I spoke anything but English. The cafe culture – I LOVE people watching and sitting chatting the afternoon away with friends in a cafe. The beautiful buildings/galleries/statues – I never get board of looking at them. The eiffel tower – I’m obsessed – have been for years – I just love it. Cheap but still very nice wine and amazing food. And finally like you, I love finding a good vantage point to look down over the city and Montmartre certainly gives you that.

    With your sofa issue – have you thought about bean bags or making/buying some big floor cushions? Otherwise you could DIY a sofa out of some old wood pellets, some thick foam and some material – I have some really good photos of examples of these as was thinking of making some and putting them in our garden BBQ area. Hope this helps.

    And looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Edna says:

      Thank you for such a lovely comment! I have no doubt there’s lots to love still about Christchurch. And the couch thing…it might not be necessary soon ;)

  17. Great post…especially like your balcony and the cheese..mouthwatering!

  18. Yeah the view from your balcony looks amazing!

    • Edna says:

      Thanks! It’s nice to have all that green, and it smells lovely after a rain…not so great for the bugs though!

  19. I’d love to know why you’re not completely enamoured with Paris – I’ve just come across your blog so I’ll see what I can find out. At one stage my husband and myself were looking into the possibility of moving there but (to my relief) we didn’t. We do still have a little flat (sans balcony) near the Gare du Nord which we leave but I feel regular visits suit me better than working there.

    Can’t agree with you more than about the cheese, wine and bread and Arts et Métiers station – it’s beautiful. Personally, I love the croque-madames on Poilane bread and the freshly squeezed lemon juice in the cafes, and I love that I’ve a whole extra city to try out the modern art galleries and museums in (I live in London). I also love the streets that you can walk down and find a good quality fishmongers, butchers, bakery, cafe and grocer – where there really is no need to go to the supermarket.

    And I’m very jealous you’ve a balcony!

  20. This is such a lovely post! And a great little reminder to appreciate the small things.
    I also live on line 6, and I love it!!!

  21. Going through a similar gray spell myself – sometimes writing lists like these help keep life in perspective :)

  22. GoYvon says:

    I can’t wait for that piece of cheese, glass of wine and the bread! I’ve been to Paris 2 times before, with school and parents.
    Next week I’ll be there with my boyfriend. It will be a total different experience from the ones I had when I was in my teens.
    Thanks!

  23. Worldtraveler20 says:

    Paris is a great city to visit but not so great to live…it is a rather closed city and quite depressing after a while….but at the same time its very hard to give up. Here are ome things I love about Paris…

    1. The architecture…everywhere you look there is perfection, beauty and art..being in Paris is like being inside a museum.

    2. Paris has preserved a lot of old arts and crafts shops…every street in paris has some amazing shop to discover….just recently I stumbled upon a shop where the owner himself designs and makes all kinds of musical boxes …some very elaborate ones with opera singers and ballet dancer figurines performing inside a box …a figure playing the violin and one playing the flute and 4 dancers in the center…all this handmade to perfection and with a highly sophisticated keywork mechanism….some of these pieces sell upwards of 50000 euros..the shop owner told me this had been his family business for over 300 years and only 2 or 3 such businesses have survived in France..at one time these toys were for the aristocratic french. France produces a lot and lot of beautiful things…from fashion to art, food, etc…no other country does this in the world.

    3. The desserts you get in Paris are to die for….all those patisseries…and boulangeries…..also fresh baked croissants and pain au chocolat just brightens up my day.

    4. Paris is a fairly small city…compared to other important cities in the world….it is still possible to walk most places in the central districts of paris and this is vry convenient as getting around in Paris is fairly quick and easy.

  24. Nader says:

    Go live in Cairo for just a month and I’m sure you’ll then find Paris a very depressing place to live in (even if you aren’t alone!)

  25. Nhu says:

    Hi Edna,

    I know it’s been a while since you’ve lived in Paris, but I’m moving there next Fall as a student and I’ll be there for two years so I was wondering if you could guide me through the process?

    Thanks!

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