1. The ability to stare directly at a stranger on the metro and feel zero awkwardness.
In Paris you can’t be afraid of a good staring contest. People will give you the once-over, the up-down, or just generally look right into your eyes as though they’re trying to pick apart your soul with their gaze.
You get used to it, and eventually you initiate the stares. You have no problem scrutinizing the man in the corner of the metro or turning your head to look directly at the girl behind you. And when someone catches you staring, you don’t blush or drop your head in embarrassment — you simply stare right back as though making direct eye contact with a total stranger for no reason is the most acceptable thing in the word.
2. The ability to differentiate cheeses on sight alone.
At your local marché, you could be three aisles and two stands away from the cheese stall and still be able to tell the difference between the crottin de chavignol and the chèvre bucheron.
3. The ability to ignore musicians playing for money on the metro and not even feel bad.
This saves you tons of small change and precious mental energy over time. Being able to tune out the accordion player who zigzags and bops around not two feet in front of your face means you can also dismiss other artists you witness, whether in the metro or not.
A man spray-painted in gold who wags his tongue at you while standing like the statue of David? You don’t bat an eyelash. The group of guys juggling soccer balls to music on the street corner? You just walk right by.
4. The ability to argue your point well.
Learning how to defend yourself and argue for what you need in a polite, matter-of-fact way is a crucial skill you gain living in Paris. One lost metro ticket and a hefty 45-Euro fine later and you know the importance of speaking up for yourself.
Whether you’re negotiating prices with a local market vendor or arguing with the train conductor at the Gare de Lyon that your ticket is in fact valid despite not having a stamp from the machine, you know how to talk your way out of a sticky situation and fight for what you deserve.
5. The ability to look presentable taking out the trash.
Or walking to the corner boulangerie for a baguette. Or heading to the local Tabac to buy a pack of cigarette. Or covering your mouth as you walk to the pharmacy for cold medicine. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or what time of day it is or what the weather’s like or how you’re feeling. You won’t be caught dead looking sloppy.
6. The ability to sit outside at a café in any weather.
Rain, gloom, and snow be damned. You’ll sit outside to drink your café no matter the weather. Succumbing to the warmth of indoors interferes with necessary people-watching sessions.
7. The ability to be comfortable spending time alone.
Paris is a city for lovers, families, and groups of friends, sure, but it’s also a city for the lone wolf.
Here it’s not weird to go to the cinema alone, sit at a cafe for three hours without a book, attend the new art exhibition solo, or head out for a meandering walk through their arrondissement with nothing but your own thoughts to accompany you.
8. The ability to cross the street without looking for cars.
You just cross exactly when you want to, keeping up your same brisk pace and walk straight ahead with nary a glance in either direction, assuming that somehow the cars and taxis will stop for you. Miraculously, they usually do.
9. The ability to match a scarf to every outfit.
Scarves are a wardrobe staple throughout Paris both because they’re stylish and because you don’t want to “attraper le froid”.
If you’ve lived in Paris long enough, not only do you know how to rock a scarf, you know exactly which scarf you need to enhance any outfit you wear.
10. The ability to unapologetically sunbathe in any public park or garden.
No matter the fact that you’re forbidden to sprawl out on the grass or that there are clusters of tourists taking photos of the manicured lawns and flower beds near you, you have no problem sunbathing in the center of an elegant public garden.
You just roll up your jeans, peel off your sweater, slip off your shoes, grab a green metal chair, and kick back. You might even put your feet up on the lip of a fountain or prop your legs on a nearby bench so you can fully recline — whatever it takes to soak up that precious Vitamin D for a few hours.
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