Friday, June 12, 2015

On Parisian food, fashion, and metro

I've been here right at a week, and I feel ready to reveal a few of my observations about the city and its people. Of course, I'm just a visitor, so my perceptions are colored by that fact, I'm sure.

On Fashion
People wear everything, some of it fabulous, much of it awful.
Parisian women seem to favor black separates or summer dresses that are either flared or loose.
Very few people wear stilettos, but I've seen lots of wedges and kitten heels on locals.
The women seem to fuss very little with their hair and makeup - it's simple and tasteful.
Separates are usually tailored and well-fitting, regardless of the size of the woman.
Not all French women are thin; many of the uber thin ones smoke.
Skirts are generally very short but blouses are not low cut.
Even in 80 degree weather, most French women have a scarf and/or jacket on them.

In general, I think the men are better dressed than the women.
French men wear their suits shorter and more fitted than in the U.S.
They also wear darker dress shirts and more conservative ties.
They often don't wear socks with their wing tips or oxfords.
For casual wear, very chic men wear scarves (yes, seemingly straight men) and layer a jacket with a couple of other shirts.
I haven't seen any professional  French man in cargo shorts or a polo knit shirt. (I'm not counting teenagers btw.)
Men here wear colored pants with panache.
They often carry a 'murse' (man purse) or messenger bag or a soft sided briefcase - nice leather.
Facial hair isn't as common here as in the U.S.

None of these observations apply to tourists or immigrants, at least from what I've seen thus far.

On food

People don't really snack here.
The exception is ice cream; everywhere you turn, someone is eating a tiny ice cream cone.
Yes, Berthillon ice cream is worth the wait; I recommend the citron verts (a super tart lime glacé).
A carafe of cold, tap water is free at restaurants, but you have to ask for it.
In the summer, most people seem to drink rose wine.
Portions are larger than I expected - prob why people don't snack.
I've had the best peaches & strawberries of my life here, but they weren't cheap.
Their salads look like things I pull out of my flowerbeds but actually taste good.
You don't choose a salad dressing; it comes with a Caesar like vinaigrette already drizzled on it.
Cokes are ridiculously expensive in cafes; it's cheaper to drink wine or cocktails.
Everyone really does buy a fresh baguette every day & they're super cheap -1,15 euro for a traditional (the better kind).
No one seems to carry a drink around which is odd to me.
Many people eat lunch on the go in a park (handheld sandwich or deli item to go); dinner is late, around 8:00, and is an unhurried affair either at a cafe or at home.
Dessert and coffee are considered essential to the dinner experience.
Restaurants to not split checks; the people have to work it out themselves.

On the metro - some tips 

The fact that Concorde station is closed this summer is making my life harder than it should be.
Get the Paris Metro free app if you're visiting; it's fabulous.
It's not air conditioned, so the trains can be stifling.
At certain times of day, the cars are packed with a ridiculous number of people.
On average, it's 30-40 steps down AND up inside any station to switch lines or exit, not counting escalators.
Yes, I've encountered some crazy people, some homeless people, and some scary people on the train.
Never make eye contact on the train.
Don't chitchat with strangers on the train.
If you need help, go to the info booth at the station entrance.
Keep your hand on the flap/opening of your purse at all times on the train.
Hold on to the bar - a lady fell hard today bc she didn't think she needed to grab the bar.
Avoid using your phone on the train bc of grab 'n go thefts.
If something feels wrong, trust your gut and change your surroundings. I didn't get on a particular train car bc I was uneasy about how a group of teens were behaving.
Avoid traveling alone very late at night bc you become an easier target. If you must, know in advance where you're going and travel with purpose/confidence.
I think the Navigo Decouverte pass is def worth it; one price for the week or month and I don't have to worry about how many trips I take.

That's it for now - hope you found some of this info either helpful or entertaining! Au revoir!


  1. Last time I was in Germany I was struck by how many men wore capri pants and that a lot of people brought their dogs to (mostly outdoor) restaurants. It's funny what you notice. Hope you're enjoying your Paris experience!!

  2. Loved this post !

    Maybe you will notice little things about KY when you come home... ;)