10 Struggles of Living in Paris and How To Solve Them
Having the opportunity to live in Paris is one that we will continue to be appreciative of. It’s not often that you can step out of your front door to the smell of freshly baked goods, the beauty of your usual apartment block and the chicness of the Parisians. These are all things we are very much grateful for and of course help us to fall in love with the city of Paris so easily.
However, like anywhere in the world, Paris has it’s ups and its downs. Although the lists of positives could go on forever we thought it would be useful, and at times funny, to share with you some of the biggest struggles of living in the city of lights and how to solve them.
1. Sunday closures
If you are used to doing the majority of your shopping on a Sunday, clothes, grocery or home shopping, then moving to Paris can come as quite a shock. The Parisians like their Sundays to be a day of rest and this appears to apply to the whole of the city (bar the Marais) where almost nothing is open.
Solution: Make sure you stock up on Sunday brunch and dinner food in advance so that you can wake up late, have a lazy day with a full fridge and enjoy what Sundays were originally meant for; relaxing and recuperating. There are also of course some FABULOUS brunch places open on Sundays which gives us an excuse to go out and treat ourselves followed by a tranquil and magical walk in the city.
If you ever have to set up a new account or anything that requires a step-by-step process then you’ll soon realise that Paris isn’t the easiest place to do this. Things can often take a long time to process and paperwork starts to build up so you’ll need a few helpers on hand to understand the system.
Solution: When possible always begin the process in advance to reduce inevitable stress. However, if it’s something last minute then you’ll have to be patient, take everything with a grain of salt and try to see the humour in the situation. Many other people will be or have been through the exact same process and therefore know to expect delays!
3. Change overs at Chatelet (And Montparnasse & Saint Lazare):
Changing metro lines at Chatelet is sure to add an extra 15 minutes to your journey due to the miles that you have to walk to get to your other line. You may need to allow another 10 minutes to that journey time for getting lost on your transfer due to the extremely confusing signs directing you on a tour around the station.
Solution : Unlike a lot of other capital cities, Paris is very walkable and the distances between each metro station are never that long. Avoid your extra 15 minute commute time by getting off one stop before Chatelet, and taking the extra 5 minute walk to your office. At least you’re walking outside in the beautiful city, as opposed to under ground! The other option is to use the awesome CityMapper app that will take into account the added time at these annoying stations so you can plan your journey properly.
4. Stepping in dog poo:
In a city as beautiful as Paris it’s really a shame that dog poo seems to be such a recurring theme. Many places you walk are likely to be covered with it due to owner’s not clearing up after their dog. Funnily enough, the worst places in Paris for dog poo seem to be the more up-market arrondissements such as the 16th, 7th, 8th and 6th.
Solution: Over a decade ago, the government has set up fines threatening dog owners who do not clean up after their dog. And more recently, these fines have been more heavily enforced. Another solution is to hang out in the more hipster neighbourhoods where you’re less likely to come across it!
5. The French Language:
The French language is a huge part of the French culture and they take it very seriously and speak with pride. Unfortunately for us expats, French isn’t the easiest of languages to learn. The grammar is more complicated than other languages, even the French themselves have been known to make mistakes, so how do us expats stand a chance?
Solution: The Marie offers a range of language classes, including French classes, at a very affordable price. Just be sure to sign up early so that you get a place on the course. Given that more and more people want to improve their English, conversational classes are easy to set up allowing you to practice what you’ve learnt as well as making a new friend!
6. Too much variety:
There are hundreds of delicious boulangeries, fromageries and wine caves all around Paris which believe us, we are not complaining about! The problem is, there is such a wide variety of different cheeses, breads and wines that we have absolutely no idea where to start!
Solution: Try them all, because why not?! The experience of tasting all the beautifully baked goods, fresh cheeses and finest wines will be a very enjoyable one. Just be sure to write down your favourites so you don’t forget!
7. Parking Spaces:
Finding a parking space in Paris is almost as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. Spaces are few and far between in the center, especially during peak hours and even worse on weekends. Sometimes it takes you longer to find a parking spot than the time taken to get to your destination!
Solution : Use public transport! Metro’s run regularly and get you from A to B in a decent time. The alternative is to use Autolib or Velib (the better option during summer months). Using Autolib means you don’t have to struggle to find a parking spot, and as a bonus you save your own car being bumped or scratched by another trying to fit into the impossibly small space next to yours!
8. Renting Apartments:
Finding an apartment in Paris is one thing, finding an apartment with space is a whole different story. The cost of rent and the process of searching for a place to live can be a long and depressing experience. Either your dossier isn’t complete, the place is too small or there is just so much competition for great apartments in Paris that, if you don’t get your dossier in fast enough, you won’t stand a chance!
Solution: Move to the suburbs of Paris. The suburbs are hardly what we would refer to as real “suburbs” because some of them are so close to Paris that they are still accessible by metro and can sometimes be quicker to travel back to than other places in Paris. Not only will you find that prices are lower, but spaces are bigger too. Win win! Also, with the future plans to expand Paris into “Greater Paris”, many of these suburbs will inevitably become a part of Paris and other metro lines will expand the accessibility of these area’s as well.
Finding the right childcare for your family can be a struggle in Paris. Crèches work on a lottery that is notoriously hard to get into and other potential options which include shared nannies (nounous partagées) or part-time private daycare (Halte Garderies) are much more expensive.
Solution: If you really want your child to go a crèche then make sure you apply as early as possible, and then re-apply when necessary. Meeting with the head of the crèche that you are interested in as well increases your chances of getting in! If you have the budget and the time flexibility, then shared nannies can provide a much more personalised experience and this as well as Halte Garderies work out cheaper than hiring a full-time private nanny.
It’s no secret that pickpockets are present around European cities, and unfortunately Paris is one of the worse effected. They can often be seen on public transport, mainly the metro, but are also known to hang around busy tourist area’s to catch those most vulnerable.
Solution: Be vigilant and be aware of your surroundings. Always close your bags and purses properly when entering public transport or whilst visiting touristic places, monuments, or anywhere there’s likely to be a crowd of people. Holding onto your belongings will make the pickpockets job much more difficult to do and will save yourself any issues!
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