This week, a funny list has been making the rounds online, and as luck would have it, it was in French. Dommage. Loosely translated, it said: Things that scare Parisians. I wanted my readers to be able to enjoy it too, so I have prepared a free translation. You’re welcome! Do not miss the original story, here: The illustrations are excellent.
Several thoughts come to mind when I look at the list.
- Things have not changed that much in Paris since I left, in 1996.
- Le Parisien, (the Parisian,) is defined as a person living in “Paris intra-muros,” i.e. in downtown Paris, within the border created by le périphérique, (the beltway.) You may live right outside le périphérique. If you do, you are not a true Parisian. You have become un banlieusard, (a commuter, living in suburbia,) and that, to a true Parisian, is only slightly better, than being un provincial (someone living outside the French capital.)
|Paris Intra-Muros (in dark blue on the map,) includes
two parks: Le Bois de Boulogne, and le Bois de Vincennes
- A large part of Parisian life revolves around the excellent public transportation system and le Métro (the subway.)
|… but les Abbesses métro station is nowhere near le Châtelet stop!
Are you ready? Here is my best attempt at a translation…
Things that Scare Parisians
(In Paris, you risk your life every day)
French article with h.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s. illustrations
1. Falling down the Metro stairs and dying.
2. Cell phone theft.
3. A strike in the Paris transportation system.
4. Having to act as a tour guide for tourist friends and splitting your day between the Eiffel Tower and Mona Lisa.
5. Getting stuck in a street demonstration.
6. Place de La Bastille, after a street demonstration (Ed.: Most mass demonstrations end up there, a lively yet horrendous sight.)
7. Les Grands Boulevards, on a Saturday before Christmas, or during the bi-annual sale season (Ed.: Major Parisian department stores are located near les Grands Boulevards, in the Opéra Garnier neighborhood.)
8. La rue de Lappe, every evening (Ed.: A small, cobbled street in la Bastille neighborhood, well-known for its nightlife.)
9. Getting stuck in the subway between two stops for over two minutes with no explanation, and imagining your own painful and inevitable demise.
10. Walking alone at night in a deserted subway corridor… and disappearing.
11. To be reduced to using one of these one day (Ed.: Photo of a Sanisette, a self-contained, self-cleaning, unisex public toilet in a Paris street.)
12. Transferring from les Halles métro station to le Châtelet RER stop (Ed.: A logistical nightmare, as these are two of Paris’ busiest stations, with mile-long corridors.)
13. Having the irrepressible urge to use the bathroom while being in the subway.
14. Pigeons inside train stations.
15. Actually, any contact with a pigeon.
16. Having to go to a party on the other bank.
17. Missing the last subway.
18. … and having to ride the Noctilien (Ed.: Night bus service for Paris and the suburbs.)
19. Rats and other disgusting creatures living inside the subway system.
20. Having to ride the RER train (Ed.: Faster, but more intimidating than the Métro, with mile-long corridors.)
21. Crossing the beltway and heading for the unknown… (Ed.: See my introductory comment about “true Parisians.”)
22. Being pushed on the subway tracks by a lunatic.
23. Paris real estate prices! (Ed.: Photo of a 97 square-foot studio, with a $600 rent.)
What did you think? Did you like it? I bet New Yorkers could relate to some of these, don’t you?
It is time to wrap up, but before I go, I just want to appeal to your better nature. You see, living in Paris involves a lot more than sitting at a café terrace and watching the world go by, nibbling Pierre Hermé macarons, getting Americanized chez McDo or at trendy food trucks. Living in Paris can be stressful. Danger lurks, whether real or imagined. There is no time to smile; or smell the Sanisette… uh… the roses. Living in Paris is serious business, and only true Parisians can put up with that much pressure. The rest of us… amateurs. We can only hope to watch and learn.