Some things about Paris and the way the city operates can be puzzling. See the quirks below and prepare yourself to ‘get over it’ before arriving!


There is very little to no air-conditioning in France. The age of the buildings often prevents modern conveniences like these to be installed. When the temperatures are high in Paris, it is really, really hot because so many structures such as streets and buildings are made of stone and absorb the heat. Carrying a small paper fan with you to fan your face can help keep the heat at bay.


While this seems to be getting a bit better, there is still dog merde (poop) on the streets of Paris so watch where you are stepping.


If an elevator exists in a building, it is likely to be small as in ‘can’t turn around in it,’ or is barely able to fit two people comfortably. Hotel rooms generally are much smaller than you would expect. Walls may be two-feet thick or paper-thin and even the floors and ceiling may not match and may be crooked.


There are very few free public washrooms in Paris and if you do find one, it may not be in the style or have the level of cleanliness that you were hoping for. In Paris, each washroom will be different and many public washrooms, including those in cafés, can range from amazing to crappy. Often, men and women share stalls and sinks. Many washrooms are located right next to the kitchen in a restaurant. Figuring out how to operate the toilet flushers and turning on of water in sinks can be a mystery. ‘Turkish-style squatters’ that are no more than a hole in the floor still exist in some older Parisian cafés and restaurants.


Second-hand smoke will still be a part of your culinary/bar/café-sitting experience when sitting outdoors and on patios. Anti-smoking laws introduced in January 2008 banned smoking indoors in public places and offices where it was common to see ashtrays at desks. As a result of this law, pedestrians are plagued with large numbers of Parisians clustering around doorways smoking and throwing their butts on the ground. Increasingly, Parisians utilize e-cigarettes which reduce the amount of smoke emitted.


Expect your French to be corrected by Parisians of all ages if it needs to be, no matter how good it is. Don’t take offense and you can have some real fun with this. Parisians love to correct but also love to speak English and learn new phrases and terms.


It can be very difficult to get a taxi on a Friday or Saturday night, or on holiday nights, when it is raining or in highly populated areas. Plan accordingly if you are out after the metro closes, or be prepared to stay out until 5:30 or 6 the next morning when the metro re-opens.


When a store or café owner announces that the establishment is closing, it is closing, period. So expect to be shooed out immediately and unceremoniously. Don’t take this personally; just get out and come back another day.


Although getting better, service as you probably know it is not the same in Paris. The ‘customer is number one and is always right’ rules don’t follow in Paris so don’t expect to be gushed over in service situations.


Carnivore-loving Paris is not the best place for vegetarians. However, many cafés offer an assortment of salads and ‘assiettes’ which are wonderful vegetarian choices. Non-meat eaters can also enjoy the diverse ethnic cuisine in Paris, offering an array of vegetarian choices.



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