By Jason Rittle 9/17/2019
Paris, France is one of the most, if not THE most visited city in the world. Whether it is getting a view of the Eiffel Tower, strolling along the Champs-Élysées, or enjoying a cup of coffee and people walking at a charming café — it’s hard to imagine Paris as anything other than some cultural and romantic utopia. The fact is, no city is perfect and Paris is certainly no exception. I went to Paris in 2018 and although I absolutely enjoyed my time, there were plenty of things that made me relieved to be back in the US with certain things I had always taken for granted.
1. Dog Poop
Although recent measures have been taken to put forth a bit more effort at tackling this issue, dog feces on the street remains a widespread problem in Paris. It’s no secret that Parisians love their dogs, but cleaning up after them seems to be neglected by many residents. So take my advice and refrain from wearing sandals and watch your step when strolling along the Champs-Élysées or some other busy sidewalk.
2. Outdoor seating in Cafes and Bistros cost more.
If you are looking to have breakfast or a small meal at a casual café or bistro, you will be surprised by a slightly different set up. GENERALLY speaking, the expectation is to seat yourself and summon your server when you see them to take your order. Sitting outside will cost more because it will require your server to walk more. You probably won’t know this until you get your bill and see a higher service charge than if you were to have sat inside closer to the bar. Talk about nickel-and-diming you. But I guess you pay for the experience not just the food right?
3. Temperamental Metro Tickets
For a city with such an efficient and extensive rail system, the manner in which you pay is quite antiquated, a waste of paper, and leaves little room for a more 21st century option. Metro tickets are either purchased from an electronic dispenser or directly from the customer service window at certain stops. What you get are these small rectangular pieces of paper with a magnetic strip that you will be tempted to put in your wallet, purse, or stick in your pocket with your cell phone. What they don’t tell you is that the magnetic strips are very sensitive and often demagnetize if placed too closely to things such as your phone, keys, coins, or even at times other tickets!
The city of Paris is slowly phasing these tickets out in favor of a digital app that can be used to scan tickets at the turnstile. In the meantime, be careful where you put these annoying pieces of paper or you will find yourself in line at customer service trying to convince employees that you already purchased them and need a replacement at no charge.
4. Strict Meal Times
The French adhere to very strict meal times and often do not eat outside of these hours. Breakfast is rarely eaten but many boulangeries and cafes will be open early. Lunch is generally eaten anywhere between 11AM and can go until as late as 3PM. Dinner is generally eaten as late as 8PM. This means restaurants will regularly close outside of these hours, leaving unsuspecting tourists bewildered at the lack of places to eat. This can get quite annoying for the average American who is used to eating whenever they feel like it and is accustomed with the abundance of 24 hour establishments.
If it’s 4PM and you are hungry, either find a creperie on the street or eat at Mcdonalds or Starbucks. Traditional French places will force you to wait until it’s the “proper” time for eating.
5. Very Few Public Toilets
Other than these self-cleaning toilet kiosks you see where it takes 5-10 minutes to clean itself between uses, leaving a line of 10 people waiting to use it, there are very few public restrooms in Paris. Some public restrooms may exist but require a fee of at least 2 euros to enter. Best advise I can give you — if you really need to use the restroom in Paris, either go back to your AirBnB and use it there or find a self-cleaning toilet and share a turn with everyone you’re traveling with. It will be worth 15 minutes of your time to set your bashfulness aside.