An English Girl in Paris

Le Jardins Des Plantes,  October 2012

Le Jardins Des Plantes, October 2012

I lived in Paris for just over 3 years.  Born and raised in London I went there to woo a boy.  He is mine.  I was successful.  Hurrah.  However, I did not love living there.  Hence why I ran away several times and am now living in Dubai.

I have always been the type of person to get up and go, try new things, take an opportunity when it pops up.  I have the f!*^k it attitude – adapted from a friend, that leads me to living quite a fortunate life.  Until I moved to Paris and it turned a little bit shit. (I do equate Paris with shit.  There is a phenomenal amount of it on the streets).

I used to lie about how I felt regarding living in Paris.  But now when people ask me “Did you like living there?”  I simply say “no”.  Here’s why:

  • As I have already mentioned – shit.  The stuff freaks me out and it’s bloody everywhere, even on the metro.  And the worst part – it’s not always the dog variety.  A guy squatted in front of me and did a poo by a tree on Boulevard Saint Marcel in broad daylight. Right by the Institut de Paléontologie.  Yeah!  Gross.
  • Doors will literally close in your face, you will be pushed out of the way, when queuing people will cut in front of you BUT all you have to do is call them out on it and an apology will follow with a surprised look like they didn’t feel your weight when they pushed you in the road.
  • Ego. There is a huge sense of ego and what I perceive as selfishness.  Everybody is out for themselves because no one is looking out for each other.
  • Drooling men.  These are legs.  In tights.  Get over it.  I think it’s supposed to be flattering but I find the constant attention directed at women primitive and offensive.  And, it is not only the men that offend – I had a girl pull down the back of my jeans and stick her tongue in my bum crack.
  • The number of women that I personally know who have been sexually assaulted, followed home or attacked is sickening.
  • Stop judging meeeeeeeeee.  People walk around dishing out their opinions like you asked for them.
  • Quite hard to make female french friends.  Ok, actually I have not made any.  After THREE years I do not have a single french female friend.  AND NOOOO it’s not me.  I have lived in a few cities – Cape Town, New York, Barcelona where you can pick up friends like vintage scarves.  In Paris, girls just don’t want to know.  I feel like you have to be invited into their circles and someone on the inside has to know you.  And the school you went to must fit. They will not trust you and it doesn’t help to be different… i.e. to wear colours other than black, navy and grey.
  • Everybody looks the same.  What happened to Paris being a fashion capital?… My wardrobe is not limited to  the above colours so I stand out like a sore thumb, especially in winter.
  • I don’t like having to explain who Alexander Wang is.
  • I’ve never felt so lonely in my life.  Surrounded by people who just do not care if you are there or not because you don’t speak French.  I admit, I am not gifted with languages and it took me a really long time to become comfortable speaking but to make a grammatical error in front of some people – it was like I’d entered their house on Bastille Day and pissed on their kids.  Such ridiculous reactions to me not speaking perfectly when I knew full well that I had been understood.  That attitude does not go down too well with my East London self.
  • Land of the lonely…  People are so miserable here, never ending complaints and the highest suicide rates in Europe.  Very sad fact.
  • “Where are you from? No, where are YOU from?” conversations.  I had way too many of these.  However I responded there was nearly always a negative reply.  It was quite a shock to hear “non c’est pas possible…” To a lot of people I could not be English because I’m black or I could not be Jamaican because I am too well spoken, I don’t say bloodclart, wasn’t wearing batty riders and so on.   Upon hearing that my mother is Jamaican I have been asked to do the dutty whine too many times.
  • I have had numerous fights.  With men.  Twice, I was touched inappropriately.  One, I started after being provoked and I am not proud of my behaviour but I found it hard not to spend half of my day angry.  I found people aggressive – on the roads, on the metro, in Monoprix and it made me more aggressive – I’m not the type to be pushed around.  I tried yoga and meditating but you can’t do that all day.

I could go on but that’s enough of a bashing and it’s  not all doom and gloom.  Paris is beautiful and there is always somewhere to explore.  Romance is everywhere and I never felt more in love than when I was there.  I had the pleasure of living in the bourgeois 5eme by the Jardin des Plantes and the Mosquee de Paris.  Two of my favourite restaurants in the world are there and erm.  Well.  I can’t run away forever, my husband is still there after all.

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