29 May 2013

Paris Syndrome: Why I Hate Parisians

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Parisians aren't a particularly popular species.  And, I shall hasten to add, not unfoundedly.  The truth of the matter is that they're rude and, well, that sums them up quite nicely.

If I were to throw around some adjectives; words like cold, grumpy, unsympathetic, unforgiving, disengaged and unfriendly spring to mind.  It's interesting to note that many of these adjectives begin with "un".  They're all the things normal people aren't.  Is it bad genetics or a cultural thing? I'm worried too that this Paris attitude (not to be confused with the letting agency of the same name) is contagious. I've already noticed that I don't smile nearly as much.  Although on reflection, this could be attributed to four things: 1) You never receive a smile back, 2) They probably think you're hitting on them, 3) They think you're giving them the go ahead to harass you, 4) The notion of smiling is so confusing to them that you may cause them brain damage.  In a nutshell, smiling is risqué.

And apparently I am not the only one to think this.  There's this wonderful article I read in the Huffington Post about the Japanese experiencing something known as Paris Syndrome.  It is actually considered to be a real psychological disorder and even has its own Wikipedia page.  The cure?  Getting the hell out of Paris, probably with a counsellor sitting beside you, soothing you throughout the 12 hour plane journey home while you flood and possibly sink the plane with your tears of agony.  I kid you not when I speak of hallucinations, depersonalization, extensive sweating - all brought on by Paris and its toxic inhabitants.  Why do the Japanese react this way?  Because they read magazines wherein Paris is painted through rose-tinted glasses. They’ve essentially been sucked into the idealised depiction of Paris prevalent throughout Japanese advertising…and were oh-so disappointed by the apparent romantic illusion they’d conjured up in their naïve little brains.  This is by no means a criticism of Japanese people who suffer from Paris syndrome.  Rather, it is a dig at those who cause it.

Politeness and social graces?  Forget about it.  They’re harder to find than a needle in a haystack.  Want to give the exact change in a shop?  Don’t go there.  They’ll watch you count all your pennies and then refuse to accept them, taking your 20 euro note instead.  And then they’ll get pissed off that you don’t have 10 centimes to make a round figure.  Beats me.  In restaurants they tap frustratedly on their notepads while you place your order, then throw your food across the table, then have arguments about their wages in front of you, then put the bill on your table half way through your meal, then stare you out of your seat so that you feel uncomfortable and leave so their business can “thrive”.  In buses they refuse to answer your questions but instead stare out into the road, hoping you might just disappear like a fly stuck to the windshield.  In supermarkets they chat to their friends as they scan your purchases, refusing to look you in the eye.  

I was once in a café in the Jardin du Luxembourg with a friend when a waiter refused to serve us for nearly an hour.  He gave a typically Parisian, brute response of “j’arrive” whenever we tried to track him down, but he never did arrive.  After this considerably long wait, I huffed and puffed like one would on a cigar, and marched off, friend in tow.  It’s safe to say that they won’t be graced with my presence ever again.

One of my favourite experiences (I’m being unsarcastic for once) was in a US breakfast diner in Paris where they kept asking me if I wanted another refill on my "Cuppa Joe", checked the food was to our liking and made sure that we were happy little bunnies.  But in real Paris, you'll be lucky if the ketchup you ask for twenty times isn’t thrown across your table with a colossal splat.  Talking of ketchup, a waiter once dropped a tray next to me and “accidentally” flung ketchup and mayo onto me and my handbag.  Did he apologise?  Of course he didn't.  He just shrugged and went to clean up the floor as if nothing had happened.  

One time I was in Zara here and I went to the check-out.  I changed my mind last-minute but apparently it was "too late".  But I hadn't even paid yet so how could it be too late?  Are you telling me it's illegal to walk out of the shop empty handed just because you typed a few things into a till and tapped finish?  Not like I signed a contract on entry.  Just use the bloody backspace or start over again...the point is that you're supposed to give me an incentive to return, not a reason to never want to step foot in the store again.  Sheesh.

In the bank they refuse to serve you if you don't belong to that branch.  *Unless you kick up a fuss that is.*  But I'd watch yourself because you might get arrested if you don't stay on your guard.  I found it particularly amusing when a friend of mine recently went to her bank to take out some money - probably something short of 300 euros.  The bank genuinely told her this would not be possible.  The reason? "We don't have enough money to give you."  And you call yourself a bank?!  Point…defeated.
All in all, I am reminded of a scene from the Grinch where, shall we say, the Grinch expresses his contempt for the button-nosed Whos.  Trust me, I'd rather be shacked up with a bunch of Whos than Parisians.  But the sentiment is the same.

And the beautiful irony?  They think you're the rudest of all if you don't wish them "bon appetit" when they're eating a meal.

NB: For the nice Parisians out there (please come out of hiding and introduce yourselves!), I salute you! You're not all rotten :P But for pete's sake, please stop calling us Brits "les rosbifs"! Merci.


  1. I am a Parisian living in the US. I hate Paris and i will never go back.Actually I tried and i survived 6 months there. All you are describing is true and the reality is even worst. People in France have no manners, they are aggressive, arrogant and racist.

  2. If you are not a middle eastern or middle eastern looking you have not seen the worst yet. I went to Paris this past summer and it was a nightmare. Then I blamed it on me not speaking French but no! it is just my ethnicity. I know for sure because I faced several situations where people did not even look at me.The worst part of my memories was getting a cab, because they wont stop to us they take the white/European looking passengers who are standing next to us. It made me so sick that even I the Americanized friendly me had to flip them off a couple times which did not make my mom happy. I had waiters not talking to me and just pointing at the menu like i am deaf or something and speaking perfect English to the person behind me who happened to be white American. My brother was spat on and threatened and cursed at by a random guy while I was talking to a nice Parisian girl (yes they exist) who did not want to hurt our feelings by translating what he said. I do not remember any social situation that makes me want to go back to Paris again. I enjoyed the sightseeing but it is not worth getting humiliated or being disrespected for no freaking reason. I live in the states and I love how people come up to me to bet on where my dark features are from or my accent. I know how most of the world think of Americans as ignorant uneducated nation and maybe some are but I admire how they are never hesitant to ask and learn about you instead of believing what they hear and hating you for no reason.

  3. I'm french and i enjoyed this article. But a few things :

    - Everybody in France hates Paris, and even in the suburbs of Paris, we think Parisians are the most stupid creatures on earth.
    - Parisians thinks that outside of Paris there's no civilisation in France
    - They are rude and unpolite even with french people
    - For the middle eastern guy in the comments : I'm french but I get descent from middle east and I never faced racism in Paris. It's a very multicultural city and it's very very rare to feel racism when you're in the street. Of course it might happen but it's really uncommon.

    Go visit the southern part of France (Bordeaux, Montpellier, Toulouse, Marseille...) it's a bit more dirty and (and dangerous in some places in Marseille) but it's clearly more beautfiul, cheaper, and people will be more friendly.

    1. I am a girl and you were not treated like I was because at least you speak french. I wont go to France ever because any culture that does not treat its tourists at least with respect does not deserve tourism money. I will gladly spend all my money in places like Orlando or Hawaii where i will be treated with dignity like a human being. The french made me feel like i was a burden on their economy instead of a source of income to their homeland. Just thinking of paris made me mad!

  4. I have visited Paris many times and have yet to find one of these much written about rude Parisians. Maybe I have been lucky? BTW My french is execrable and almost non existent.

  5. Hello !
    As a french girl, I'm very sorry that you had to face such a bad behavior from parisians.
    I work in Paris and sometimes I have words with people in the subway, but other than that I don't think that they are so much more rude than regular french people. (I traveled a lot through France and I experimented rudeness all across France... at least, people tend to be less racists in Paris)
    I guess it depends on the areas you go to ? I avoid touristic places in Paris, because it's expensive and it doesn't have a great service.
    Anyway, if you ever go back to Paris, I would advise you to hang around less touristic areas, people are much nicer !
    Oh, and it is unfortunate - because, as a major touristic city, Paris should be more welcoming to foreigners and non-french speakers - but if you're going to the restaurant/coffee with a french friend, waiters will be more likely to show more patience...
    Anyway, good luck for you future trips to France :)

  6. So Adeline what are you suggesting?
    Tourists who spend all money coming to Paris should avoid touristic places? LOL

  7. Anonymous: What she means is there are places where they'll be friendlier. Besides, considering the massive amount of income the city of Paris generates on any given day, they don't need your money.

  8. I had a very interesting experience. And a lot of it has to do with the cultural differences. Being French Canadian, I've often been able to draw parallels between American culture and French culture. In both countries you will find that some of the people are warm and friendly, provided you can interact with them culturally. But since both countries have had significant impact on the world at different times in history, both are home to extremely arrogant/ignorant folks that use their country's cultural clout to compensate for their own personal insecurities. Ex: Arrogant Parisians can understand my Canadian French but since they look down at my place of birth as a mere "colony", they'll reply to me in English. I've often played games where I rapidly switch between French/English in the same sentence just to confuse them. In the US, you'll get the odd "WE Americans allow YOU Canadians to exist", or they make fun of regional accents (despite the fact many can't even spell correctly) or whatever sophomoric insult they can conjure up. BUT.... the moment you can banter on their level, EVERYTHING changes. Example: As I walked into a bistro in Paris asking for Iced Tea, the server's reply was rude : "Where does this clown come from asking for Iced Tea? Tea is served hot."... to which I instantly replied: "It's not me... it's my girlfriend over there.. she has strange taste ;-)". My lightning-speed deflection got me instant respect from the staff and they even admitted they preferred iced tea, and served it to me after a friendly conversation. In the US, I just remind them that we burnt down their White House in the War of 1812... and we're still waiting for them to show us what they've got.
    But putting aside the unfortunately frequent encounters you will have with the ignorant, the relationships I have developed with very friendly people from both France and the US are - without hesitation - the most meaningful friendships I have had to date. In France, you just have to set aside yous expectations that as a tourist, you are a savior with money. Because they won't bite. In the US, just steer clear of politics, religion and don't ever try to tell them how to run their lives. Maybe there's something to learn in those sorts of attitudes.

  9. I totally agree. Parisians are sucks... And Paris as a Ciyt too. I may call it: Paris is a bitch. Here is some fanpage which i'm trying to work, for those who hate Paris as much as I do (ok, i had some personal issues with this city :D) https://www.facebook.com/HATEPARIS