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Friday, July 6, 2012

What is different in Paris?

I am often asked what I find most different about living in Paris compared to my most recent country of residence, the US. The answer is "everything", but I thought it might be more helpful to create a short list.

When my hairstylist in America drops a comb she disinfects it before using it again. 
  • When my stylist in Paris drops a comb he gives it a little puff of hot air from the blow drier.

It takes about 90 minutes for a color, cut and style in the US.

  • It takes half a day for the same service in Paris.

When I go to my American doctor I am given a gown to protect my modesty before my exam.

  • In Paris I just take off all my clothes. As the radiologist said to me "It's only the two of us here and I am about to see everything anyway"!

When I am at the pharmacy in the US I am allowed to quietly ask for my prescriptions without ever saying "antibiotics for a urinary infection" or other embarrassing things.

  • At a pharmacy in Paris you are likely to get a lesson in suppository use in front of the other 12 people waiting.

In the US I tip the bartender well when I get my first drink, and am likely to get good service for the rest of the evening.

  • In Paris tipping at the bar is not expected or encouraged and has no effect on subsequent service. And why would you need a second drink anyway?

In the US I am offended if the waiter does not stop by shortly after delivering my food to ask if everything is okay.

  • In Paris the waiter assumes everything is okay and will not interrupt the enjoyment of your meal.

In the US we think we are being ignored if we are not served immediately.

  • In Paris it would be rude to rush the customers, who are expected to discreetly signal when they are ready to order.

In the US if a guy says "You are so beautiful", you expect the next sentence to be "Will you marry me"? (I say this with a certain degree of sarcasm since American men are not known for their willingness to risk it all with a compliment to a woman who is not a sure thing.)

  • In Paris you actually do get compliments like this frequently, and the next sentence is often, well nothing or something actually. It was just a compliment, or it was the opening line of a seduction. Usually time will tell.


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