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updated by Lena, May 2021

Ever since the invention of the internet, I am a fan of those “10 things lists”. I can go down that rabbit hole for hours and just browse lists ranging from entertaining topics like “10 incredible details in Pixar movies” to random and disturbing “10 disgusting items people store in their fridge”

Now it’s my turn!

Ready? Here’s the list of my very own 10 things I wish I’d known before moving to Paris:


  1. Everyone eats more than you, drinks more than you, and is, and always will be skinnier than you. Living in Paris without being Parisian or having an eating disorder means you are doomed to be big(ger). Deal with it. (You need to, really. Best BEFORE having kids, otherwise you risk punching some random 45 kg mom of 3 with a baguette on one point)
  2. Everyone will look better than you, or make you feel like they do. But let’s be honest, if you did not come to Paris to work in Fashion, with Fashion or as Fashion, they most likely just do look better. That is ok! Very high standards are applying and chances are that you lose. Get over it.
  3. Average family dinners or lunches last at least 4 hours. If you are invited for lunch AND dinner, you have around 1h in between the last digestif of lunch before starting the apéro for dinner. Use this time wisely, it could be 6 hours until you are released.
  4. Do you think the bureaucracy is crazy where you’re from? LOL… Be prepared to carry a copy of every damn document that was ever created in your name with you, at all times. Always.
  5. People are paying with checks. They still do. Before coming to Paris, I believed this payment method disappeared in the ’80s. It didn’t. Not in France.
  6. Don’t think that Online Banking is a thing. It’s not.  You might come from a place on earth where you can initiate a payment with one click to whatever bank account you want. Keep it as a nice memory in your heart, dream about it, and send a cheque.
  7. Get mentally prepared to be exposed to outstanding food you didn’t know existed. Or would ever be anywhere near you. Oysters, Champagne, and foie gras… but as well bone marrow, rillettes, andouille, and half raw kidneys. This is the stuff you find in random restaurants, THIS is your new normal.
  8. It’s considered appropriate to pay unbelievable amounts of money for macarons or chocolate. You might laugh about it and call it ridiculous at first. But sooner than you think you will find yourself queuing in a 50 m long queue to give Pierre Hermé your credit card and your soul.
  9. People expect you to know everything about your country; its culture, its music, its writers, philosophers, painters, history, politicians, voting system, grammar… And they want to talk about it. With you! Be ready for some extremely awkward situations of “I know nothing” exposure.
  10. People don’t speak English. That’s fine, it totally is. Just adjust your expectations and don’t think: it’s a world metropole, everyone speaks English! They don’t. They simply don’t. Unless you speak French, then they answer in English. If you want to unlock this magical effect, I put together some easy ways to improve your French!


For more entertainment, check the following clip to learn French in 1 (ONE!) word, I can assure you, it works


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p class=”p4″>10 of the most stunning oddities I discovered about the frenchies – Life as an expat