Dear friends from all over the world!
While it is quite common to hear that Paris is beautiful, we also hear a lot that it’d be even better WITHOUT the Parisians! (And lots of French people feel this way too…) The Parisians have with no doubt qualities, but they also have a reputation for being grumpy, sufficient, even arrogant, rude at times, and always in a hurry. Not a very bright picture! But it’s changing, and we can all contribute to that shift. Learn about this easy process, and you’ll find yourself enjoying Paris AND the Parisians!
So, what about these unpleasant behaviors? I don’t want to excuse any of them, but some aspects of the Parisians’ attitude can be explained with the life conditions.
First, Paris and its surrounding cities have one of the highest population densities in the world. Consequently its residents are faced with constant traffic jams, crowded streets, and packed public transportation. Like most big cities, it’s also loud, busy and a bit gritty. All this can be tiring and get on one’s nerves.
Second, Parisians don’t have the same social etiquette as, say, the Japanese (with their refined manners and politeness, strict code of behavior in public, and modesty). Parisians can be very direct in comparison, and they’re definitely more individualistic and undisciplined: they seem to both love the rules, and love to break them! Wether they admit it or not, they kind of like living in an “organized mess” 😉 So living together in Paris is often much more challenging than in Tokyo.
My take on the Parisians’ reputation is that their apparent temper is above all a way to protect themselves from the pace of life in the city and from its residents’ unconscious attitude.
So you’ll occasionally come across people who act in an unfriendly way, and it doesn’t change a thing if you’re a customer. There’s nothing personal about it, they act like that with locals or tourists alike. But my feeling is that it’s slowly shifting, as Parisians want to change their bad reputation. And the other good news is, all of us can accelerate that shift!
Moody Parisians can become charming in a split second
Actually, what I came to realize over the years, is that indifferent or moody Parisians could transform themselves into charming people so quickly! This was when I took the time to look at them in the eyes and smile! That is, when I took the time to create a humane experience.
To be honest, I was not necessarily thinking about that when I was a busy and stressed corporate woman. I too was probably showing signs of impatience when interacting with clerks in stores, standing in line at supermarket checkout -always too slow!-, or avoiding any human contact with other people in the crowded public transportations… I was on auto-pilot, reflecting people’s behavior around me. Thus I was somehow participating in the frantic and impersonal environment, and receiving the same energy I was sending out.
Getting more aware
When I became more aware of my OWN attitude, I started to pay attention, practice calm patience (which is another way to say “being present in the here and now”), and be gentle and warm in my interactions. Today I seldom find myself stressed out by what’s happening around me, or have any unpleasant experiences in Paris (even with taxi drivers!) All the contrary, I keep making wonderful encounters in the most improbable places!
When I feel that my guests can benefit from my take, I share that with them. Most of the time they come back to me, later on, wondering, “What is this bad reputation they give to Parisians? They’re charming!”. That really pleases me, when my guests have a wonderful time in Paris!
What YOU can do to change your experience
Try that next time you are in Paris. Even if your French is not your mother tongue and you hardly stammer a few words like “bonjour” or “merci”, smile at people genuinely, make eyes contact, exchange a few kind words.
You’ll see that most of the time, your peaceful and joyful energy will transform people. The grumpy clerk at the metro counter will lighten up and smile back, and the stressed waiter at the café will relax 🙂 (And if it’s not the case, then “keep calm and carry on”, as the British say!)
This conscious attitude, making eyes contact, smiling, being fully present and serene, allows people you interact with to feel safe and express the best in them. And therefore they feel good and spread that feeling around them. A powerful formula we can practice in all our interactions, at home, at work, with our friends, etc.
Remember this beautiful quote from Maya Angelou:
“People will not remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
So, with this in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy Paris WITH its inhabitants, creating more personal and authentic experiences. And maybe you’ll get to actually really enjoy the Parisians too!
Did you have any charming experiences with Parisians in the past? Or any unpleasant ones that you’ve been able to reverse quickly? Would you like to share your stories with me? I’d be very happy to read you in the comments below!
In my next blogposts, I’ll share with you some aspects of my wonderful neighborhood in eastern Paris (20th and 19th arrondissements), where one have plenty of opportunities to have great interactions with locals, while enjoying local amenities and an authentic Parisian lifestyle. I’ll also tell you about the latest exhibitions I visited. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, you can have a look at my latest photos from the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, one of my favorite park in Paris: click here to access my photos on my facebook account (subscribe to my page to receive all my photos and news!)
With love and gratitude,
PS: If you feel like diving into the rich local life of Paris, I’d be happy to support you with my cultural immersion programs for visitors.
If you have dreams to relocate in Paris, or if you’re already living here as an expat and could use some support, I can help you fit into France’s culture at your own time and pace (I also have years of experience as a teacher of French and am a certified professional translator, so I can provide linguistic support too). Contact me to find out more.
Finally, I’m a Holistic Life Coach: if you feel like making positive changes in your life, it’ll be my honor to provide you with gentle and profound support, so that you start living the life that’s yours to live, in deep connection with what’s more meaningful to you. Claim your 30-minute free discovery sessions!