Things They Don’t Tell You About Living in Paris


I arrived about 10 months ago and I can’t say that I know life in Paris perfectly, but I did get quite an idea. Those who know me know that I am an overly observant person, the kind that learns more by watching than by listening or reading. It is not better or worse, just that we all have better developed cognitive methods than others.

Let’s start with my first apartment. At the entrance of almost all buildings (especially the Haussmanian ones, the old ones) there is a porter to open the door with a code. Of course, many homeowners have the electromagnetic key that makes the door open instantly. But going back to the code…it’s as simple as inviting a couple of friends, giving them the entrance code so they can go up and then you open the door of your apartment without having to go down to open it, or throw the keys off the balcony.

Mailboxes are normally located inside the building. Each apartment is usually identified by number and/or surname. This was really a mystery to me when I arrived. I wondered all the time how they did to enter and drop the mail in my mailbox, or if I made a large purchase and I was not at home. I always found him outside my apartment.

Did you know that in Paris (I don’t know if it’s the same in all of France) postal mail works better and is even more efficient than emails?

The “post-man”, in Spanish the mailman, is uniformed with a cart very similar to the one used for shopping with all the mail that must be delivered. They go through the streets that are assigned to them and I have even seen them get on the bus with the letter cart. The most striking thing is that there are stores / centers of the national mail (La Poste) everywhere. Even if there aren’t any, you will find mailboxes on the street to deposit your envelope.

Checks, checkbooks. It seems like a word from the 90’s but here it is just as normal as if it were effective. People, entities, banks use the check for everything, even to make returns. So I would tell you to start investigating how they are completed because you may have to deposit more than one at a time if you live here.

Separate the garbage and separate what is given/donated.

In the buildings you find huge garbage cans, there is one for glass, another for paper, cardboard and organic. The gardienne, or person in charge of each building, takes the huge can out into the street and then the garbage man takes care of doing his job. In my neighborhood currently, the jar of glass bottles is only taken out on Friday mornings, on Wednesdays and Saturdays it goes in the cartons and the rest of the days the other. It seems like something very common to tell, but even in that it seeks to organize the city and makes it work.

There are also giant boats in different parts of the city to deposit CLOTHES, shoes, all the clothing that is no longer used. The trucks collect everything and take it to a center where the clothes that are very destroyed are separated to be recycled into other fabrics, the ones that can be reconditioned and the ones that can be donated. In addition, they are in charge of doing all that right there. Fabulous isn’t it? In my stories I have shown you this giant boat. Do not forget to follow me to see my stories of the city.

Water in Paris is Free. As they read it. If they go to a restaurant to eat something, they can ask for a jug of tap water. In addition, there are hundreds of fountains throughout Paris providing free water, even carbonated! If you can see the 2nd episode of the series “With your feet on Earth / Down to earth” with Zac Efron on Netflix, you will be able to see and enjoy this wonder.

To look for a job, a flat, a place at the university and some paperwork, a “dossier” must be put together. A folder with different documents and papers to present depending on what you are requesting. But besides that, it is a MUST to have a motivation letter that explains who you are, what you are applying for and why. Copy paste doesn’t work. For each site, place, employer, it must be addressed in a timely manner. But if you are interested in all that, I can put together a specific post with some examples to guide you a bit. Do not hesitate to ask me here, on my Instagram or with a simple coffee

It is rare for people to pay for everything in half. Normally each one pays what he consumed in a dinner. Even on dates. Unless it is said from the beginning that the person is going to invite, everyone knows that they pay for their consumption. Even in some cases, the departure may be paid by one of the two and the next day the value arrives through an app for half of what the departure has been. How technological does it sound?

It is that there is practically no place where you do not pay by card. Everything is ready to pay by card, restaurant ticket, paypal and almost no coins.

Sanisettes – Toilette – Public Bathrooms: This place is so requested when we spend all day touring the city and in bars you generally have to be a customer or pay a fee to use the bathroom.

Well, with the coronavirus and the city practically closed, it was necessary to install more bathrooms and although I had never used one on my previous trips, this time I did not let it go. The automatic toilets that are seen in various important points of the city are called Sanisettes. You can search for them in google and they will all appear. Those are the ones that clean themselves every time someone finishes using it. Outside they will see the different lights that indicate if it is available, if it is being washed or if it does not work.

There are plenty of options to learn French for free. In the library of the Pompidou Museum, free conversation workshops are given and separated by levels for foreigners. You also have at your disposal interactive programs and the free use of computers to learn. If you go to La Merie, they will provide you with a hundred places where free conversation studios are taught and, of course, paid centers so you know where to study the language. It is understandable that in a city as cosmopolitan as Paris, they want to take care of their culture, their language and sometimes they are a bit cold in front of their visitors.

Imagine a city that receives millions of tourists throughout the year, with languages, cultures and ideologies so different that it is necessary to try to maintain order. That’s why I always say, it’s not about cold French, but about our attitude, our desire to learn the language and above all to adapt to a system that works. In addition, I tell you that there are many French people who speak Spanish or English, it will only depend on how nice you are and how you can get them to help you without problems. If you want detailed information about learning French, apps and my methods, don’t hesitate to ask!

I still have much more to tell you and I have your questions written down for my next posts.

I hope you liked it !

Au Revoire!