9 Things They Don’t Tell You About Paris

Paris, France is absolutely as gorgeous and romantic as you’ve heard. It also smells like pee.

Audrey and I had a magnificent time on our much belated honeymoon. Paris is wonderfully walkable and I took a metric fuck ton of photos which I will upload to the Flickrs sometime this week. I love the architecture of the city. It’s a wonderful mix of old and new which is demonstratively personified at the Louvre Museum with the great glass pyramid standing in the courtyard of a stately palace.

Paris is a city for lovers. It is also a working city which means there are lots of things that you will encounter that none of your friends have ever bothered to mention. So here’s a list of 9 random things that your friends haven’t told you about Paris until now:

  • If you’re a dude, you can pee on the sidewalk.
    Apparently, there’s no law against public indecency when it comes to urinating on the sidewalk. If you’re a man, you get to pee wherever you want including at the guard station at Montparnasse Cemetery where Audrey and I witnessed a dude just pissing on the sidewalk. If you’re a lady, no sidewalk peeing for you.
  • Toilets and sinks are in different places.
    At most of the restaurants, brasseries, cafes that we ate, the toilets where you do the business and the sinks where you wash up after the business were in different rooms. Typically, there’s a door that says “toilet.” This leads to a room with a sink and a mirror. There’s another door in that room that leads to the actual toilet. Sometimes there’s more than one door. This means that both men and women can use the toilets at the same time and share a sink. And even if there are separate men and women toilets, if there’s a long line for the ladies, sometimes the ladies can just sneak in and use the men’s toilet.
  • Parisians hate you.
    I think the American view of the French people is actually formed by the American experience in Paris. Most of us experience France in Paris and find the people somewhat rude and almost confrontational. This has lead to the American stereotype of French people being snooty and rude. However, once you get outside of Paris, the French people are rather pleasant and quite awesome. They, too, find Parisians to be rude and confrontational. The lesson here is that Parisians hate you and each other. And you shouldn’t take it out on the whole of France.
  • The Paris Metro works super well. Unless…
    The Paris Metro is like clockwork. It shows up when it says it will. You don’t have to wait terribly long between trains. The platform is the length of the train so you don’t have to guess where you can stand. However, if there’s a national strike like there is right now, you’re fucked. Paris is a walkable city so for tourists, walking around from place to place may be exhausting, but it’s doable. However, if you live on the outskirts and have to commute to the city, you are going to have a miserable day. Thankfully, we missed la greve and didn’t have to deal with the strikes.
  • Don’t have metro fair? Hop the turn style!
    The French pay wicked high taxes and many feel that public transportation should be free. We witnessed a lot of locals following people through the turn styles or hopping them altogether. We also saw people getting on busses without paying the fairs. And the officials don’t seem to give much of a fuck. The metro station workers never said a word as they watched people hop the turn style. The drivers never said anything to the people who didn’t pay. So if you’ve run out of pocket money, hop that turn style.
  • French Coca-Cola is served in made with sugar and served in glass bottles.
    YES! Now the formula does taste slightly different, but the real sugar gives the Coca-Cola a clean, crisp taste. Pepsi, also served in glass bottles and made with sugar. Fuck yes, France!
  • French comics kick quite a lot of ass.
    French comics are called bandes dessinées. They are more expensive than our floppies. They are also larger in format, come on nice glossy paper, and are hard bound. We found a B-D in Paris and I almost fucking fainted. Bandes dessinées are freaking gorgeous. All these glorious hard bound comics on the shelf just waiting for me to drool over! They are so much better than the floppies and I think if more comic creators were exposed to bandes dessinées, they wouldn’t ever want their work printed on shitty little newsprint paper ever.
  • There’s a lot of American TV dubbed on French TV.
    Not that we watched much TV, but when we did flick it on before falling asleep, there were an awful lot of American shows dubbed in French. Many more than I was expecting which is to say I wasn’t expecting any. But there was Bones speaking in perfect French.
  • Asian restaurants are probably owned by Chinese.
    There are many Asian restaurants in Paris which surprised the hell out of me and a shit ton of sushi joints. These are all owned by Chinese immigrants. Even the ramen joint we went to on our arrival was owned by Chinese people. The waiter and cook were yelling at each other in Mandarin. This is actually quite fun because you can get a nice steaming bowl of szechuan-style mapotofu at a ramen joint which I did one rainy night.