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  • Writer's pictureRJ Smith

The Worst Things About Life in Paris

Lamarck Métro station in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.

It sure is a pretty town. But Paris Syndrome—when tourists (usually Japanese) break down because the city falls so short of their expectations—is an actual thing. Here’s why.

1. Crazy People

Junkies. Paranoiacs. The possessed and uncured. Here freaks of every kind work the streets, bars and subway cars to feed their monkeys and themselves. In some neighbourhoods you can't go half an hour without being approached by some pointer with vanquished eyes telling you about his life sans abri. Paris is second only to São Paulo in my Insane Person Index.

2. People in General

Paris is the most densely populated city in Europe, with 55,000 pissing, shitting, fucking human animals inhabiting every square mile. Space is in short supply. You overhear things you’d rather were kept private. Finding an apartment is either highly difficult or impossible depending on the time of year. There's just too many people and not enough room.

3. Scooters

With the traffic, lack of parking and narrow streets, scooters are a logical choice for getting around town free of the unwashed masses. They are also loud, dirty, accelerate faster than you can get out of their way, and are used by the type of person who likes to “live dangerously”, abuse cyclists and make sure their horns are working.

4. Concrete

New York has Central Park. London has too many to name. Paris has only small squares, and all of them are closed at night. The buildings line the streets like ornate fortresses, impenetrable except through heavy doors with secret codes. To live in Paris is to live away from all that is natural and organic, unless you can afford to shop at Bio c’ Bon unlike everyone I know.

5. Shiss

Pissing on the street is a rite of passage in Paris. Everyone’s done it, even the most refined Parisienne. But urine is only half the stank equation. Let us not forget the amount of people with nowhere to live and therefore nowhere to shit, and the legions of dogs whose owners consider cleaning up their mess beneath their pay grade. The result, polite reader, is shiss—shit and piss—shaken up, mixed together, aged and fermented for your olfactory pleasure. When in Paris keep your eyes open and your airways closed. Especially in the métro. In fact keep your eyes closed down there too.

6. Waiters

Perhaps you would like to partake of the old Parisian pastime of sitting en terrasse quaffing wine, dispensing cutting remarks regarding the beastly creatures about you. To do this you are going to need a waiter. Good luck with that. You see, the Parisian waiter—and please switch on your David Attenborough voice for a moment—is a highly evolved species. Free of the basic human instinct of looking towards deliberate movements in his vicinity, the Parisian waiter leaves his victims grovelling and thirsty as they fight vainly for his attention.

7. Creepy Men

Either I have no value on the sexual marketplace of gross macho dickheads—of which there is a huge oversupply in Paris—or they only have the courage to accost women walking by themselves. Whatever the reason, this problem does not directly affect me. But it has a profound effect on life in the city. Women have to find apartments in neighbourhoods where they will be safe. Several of my female friends report being harassed and followed, sometimes all the way into their buildings. The city recently made catcalling illegal. But the problem is cultural, not legal, and is therefore unlikely to go away any time soon.

Those are my seven worst aspects of life in one of the world's great cities. Don't hesitate to comment if you agree/disagree or feel I've missed something.

Next Instalment: The Best Things About Life in Paris.


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