Photo: Radu Razvan/Shutterstock

16 Signs You've Been in Paris Too Long

by Kathy Saunders Sep 25, 2015

1. No sound makes you want to kill things more than an accordion.

If bagpipes had a sadistic continental cousin, it would be the accordion. The only reasonable solution to the citywide rage-tinnitus they cause is to lob them all keyboard first into the Seine.

2. Sitting outside in the bleak midwinter is a completely normal thing to do.

Sitting outside at the majority of cafés, bars, and restaurants is what Parisians do best, come rain or shine… or snow. Not even a mid-February blizzard can scare the hardiest of us back inside, mainly because the outdoor heaters in this city are probably the best on Earth.

3. Smoking doesn’t seem really disgusting anymore.

Despite the stink, the toe-tagged nicotine junkies on the box, and the indoor smoking ban, it seems like everyone here is puffing away on a clope, and no one bats an eyelid. After a couple of months, you actually get used to smelling faintly of old ash after a night out.

4. You mutter to yourself in public about how ridiculous everyone/thing is.

Muttering out loud to yourself is perfectly acceptable, especially if some connard hits you in the face with an umbrella, or a stone cold metro hound slides into YOUR seat after you’ve begun bending your knees and everything.

5. Your neighborhood is where you spend most of your time.

After a while, you figure out where all the stuff you like to do is, then you rent an apartment near all of that stuff. Life is just easier that way, especially if you have friends in the quartier. Who wants to get a metro or, god forbid, an RER to their favorite places anyway?

6. The only fireworks you care about explode from the Eiffel Tower on 14th July, but you’d never actually go there to watch them.

Figuring out how to pee in a crowd of thousands at the Champ de Mars after a bottle or three of wine just. Isn’t. Worth it. Instead, you prefer spending Bastille Day chez whichever friend has the best view, relieving your bladder whenever you feel like it.

7. Customer service is no longer something you believe in.

In Paris, the customer is usually wrong, and is generally considered an inconvenience. After a while, rare encounters with polite, effective service start to feel like hallucinations.

8. Washing your hair isn’t something you need to do every day.

Washing your hair on the daily isn’t conducive to creating that iconic “French girl’s do”. What you need is a little second day grease, some dry shampoo and a healthy dose of devil-may-care nonchalance, also known as I-couldn’t-be-bothered-to-get-up-earlier, or I-have-no-hot-water-because-Parisian-buildings-are-old-and-broken.

9. There are right and wrong places to board a metro train.

You know exactly which door on which carriage opens closest to the connecting train and/or most convenient exit at most metro stations.

10. Annoying things “make you shit”.

Your bus is stuck in traffic, ça te fait chier, you drop your groceries, ça te fait chier, McDonald’s has run out of Big Macs, ça te fait chier. Isn’t language fun?!

11. You have a mugging/assault story you tell frequently.

Like all things, being mugged is infinitely better when you can share the experience… for the sixteenth time, over beers, with the latest visitors from home. Bonus points for retaliatory headlocks.

12. You expect something tiny when you order a coffee.

Espressos, allongés, and cafés crème all come in receptacles no bigger than a large egg cup. While strong, these dinky little caffeine hits are only sufficient if you’ve been shrunk by a ray gun, but you can just get two.

13. You don’t dress up to go out per se.

Getting ‘dressed up’ to go out is for fools. Add lipstick to your existing outfit and you’re good to go.

14. You know when you’re in a McDo black hole and you don’t like it.

The Golden Arches are always there when you need something deep fried and covered in salt. Until they’re not. Then what, a Quick? No thank you very much.

15. Most of your wardrobe is black.

You can spill red wine on black clothes and no one can tell. Being chic has nothing to do with it.

16. You can find the Fnac in Les Halles.

The shopping center at Les Halles is essentially the fourth ring of hell, as detailed in Danté’s Inferno, only there’s a fairly decent Zara. It’s impossible to navigate the first 60 times you go, and after that it’s just unpleasant. A woman once came up to me in tears, screeching “Je cherche la Fnac, aidez moi!” — true story.

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