Simon Kuper, last year, in the Financial Times, pondered the reasons behind Parisians’ notorious rudeness and concluded that being Parisian takes so much effort that everyone is perennially in a bad mood.
It’s the eternal paradox of Paris: why is the world’s most charming metropolis also the most unfriendly? As the universal phrase goes, “I love Paris. I just hate Parisians.”
When I moved here in 2002, I rejected that view. I was determined to learn Parisian codes. I knew this city has a complex etiquette. I thought that once I’d learnt the importance of saying bonjour at every encounter, or of not walking into a restaurant demanding dinner at 6pm while wearing shorts, I would gradually break through Parisian rudeness.
It was my mission. More than a decade later, I can say: beneath the snooty unfriendly façade, Paris is a snooty, unfriendly city. I can even explain why. ...
[T]he strongest explanatory variable for Parisian rudeness (and I’m aghast it’s taken me a decade to work this out) is Paris’s very perfection. If you overlay an intellectual capital on an artistic and fashion capital in a former royal capital, all of it in the country that invented how to eat, there are so many codes governing so many behaviours that the demands of sophistication become all-encompassing. No other city makes so many requirements. Every moment of their lives, even at family breakfast or in bed, Parisians must observe the rules that govern eating, talking, thinking, dressing, making love et cetera. There’s even a generally approved life-long pose: never seem surprised; bored is much better.
In Paris, Big Brother (often in the form of oneself or one’s spouse) is always watching to see if you commit a faux pas. Whenever you do, he’ll let you know – perhaps with a silence, or a pained glance away. There is no intimate Paris where you can slob out in old underpants. (Admittedly, Parisian dress codes are less strict than in, say, Italy. Most of the time here it’s OK to look dowdy – though never weird.) In all, Paris is a nightmare of sophistication. Only in one field of local endeavour do no rules apply: driving.
Nor are Parisians allowed to laugh off their codes. My native informant Sophie-Caroline de Margerie – top civil servant, writer, fashionable Parisienne et cetera – says: “I’ve never met a bona fide French eccentric.” There is a right way to do everything in Paris, and it was probably decided before you were born. All the French provincials, Africans and romantics from everywhere who land here battle to adapt, sometimes forever. You try to be Parisian, to meet all the standards of perfection that mark this city, and so you sneer at anyone who falls short – for instance, by sitting down at the next restaurant table wearing the wrong jacket. Paris is a sneer. This attitude was summed up by the definitive Parisian film, Dîner de Cons (“Dinner of Fools”, 1998): a bunch of stylish Parisians hold a weekly dinner to which they each invite an unknowing con, “a fool”, in order to crow over their cons’ appearance, tastes, conversation etc. Parisian life is like a dîner de cons except that nobody would ever really invite the poor cons to dinner.
Boldini painting of grande horizontale subsequently sold at auction for £1.78 million
The Daily Mail describes a Belle Époque Parisian apartment, locked up at the time of the WWII German advance on the French capital which has remained unopened for over 70 years.
Inside the Paris apartment untouched for 70 years: Treasure trove finally revealed after owner locked up and fled at outbreak of WWII.
Caked in dust and full of turn-of-the century treasures, this Paris apartment is like going back in time.
Having lain untouched for seven decades the abandoned home was discovered three years ago after its owner died aged 91.
The woman who owned the flat, a Mrs De Florian, had fled for the south of France before the outbreak of the Second World War.
She never returned and in the 70 years since, it looks like no-one had set foot inside.
The property was found near a church in the French capital’s 9th arrondissement, between Pigalle red light district and Opera.
Experts were tasked with drawing up an inventory of her possessions which included a painting by the 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini.
One expert said it was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900. ‘There was a smell of old dust,’ said Olivier Choppin-Janvry, who made the discovery.
But he said his heart missed a beat when he caught sight of a stunning tableau of a woman in a pink muslin evening dress.
The painting was by Boldini and the subject a beautiful Frenchwoman who turned out to be the artist’s former muse and Mrs de Florian’s grandmother, Marthe de Florian, a beautiful French actress and socialite of the Belle Époque.
These local festivities are characterized by a prominent humor site as insane, but I think several of the are of distinct historical or anthropological interest and the ones where you throw fiery things around sound like fun.
Once you’ve finished attending all of the above list of seven events, you’ll want to get right to work on Figaro’s list of 100 things you need to do in Paris during your life.
Demographic map of New Jersey. (I have been pretty successful in avoiding that state myself.)
I really don’t think New York City compares terribly well to Paris, but the maker of this cleverly crafted little video, shot entirely on the Nokia N8 mobile phone does a heck of a job at trying. Not surprisingly it won the Nokia Shorts competition 2011.
TopNews reports on the latest struggle for the rights of man in the City of Light.
A huge number of models in Paris, who pose in the buff and perform as muses for artists, took to the streets in a nude march on December 15 to protest the fact that they are not respected or paid enough.
The models went on strike and posed naked in freezing temperatures in front of Paris city hall’’s culture department to shame the state, and their demand was a pay increase, proper contracts and, most of all, respect for their craft.
A shivering male model was heard shouting out through a megaphone that the disrespect shown to the models was “proof that something is badly wrong with French society”, while artists, students and art teachers sat sketching them in support.
The protest had started after Paris city hall, which runs an array of life-drawing classes, banned the tradition of the “cornet”, which is a piece of art paper rolled into a cone and passed round for tips as a model gets dressed after class.
The models, who have to survive on a minimum wage with no fixed contracts, holiday pay, security cover or job security, said the tips allowed them to survive.
In France life modelling is widely seen as a serious career choice, and the models wanted to quash the misconception that it was merely something students and retired people did for pocket money.
“This is a craft that should be respected, not just anyone can take their clothes off and hold a pose,” the Guardian quoted Deborah, 28, one of the strike organisers, who has worked as a full-time life model for four years, as saying.
“It is artistic and physically demanding work,” she stated.
Generations of Yale undergraduates have defied authority by seeking adventure exploring the subterranean world of steam tunnels connecting buildings in the main portion of the campus. Who knew that Parisians pursued essentialy the same hobby?
By day, Lazar Kunstmann is a typically avant-garde Parisian, an urbane, well-spoken video film editor who hangs out in the fashionable Latin Quarter. By night he inhabits a strange and secret world with its base in the tunnels beneath the French capital – the world of the urban explorers.
Mr Kunstmann belongs to les UX, a clandestine network that is on a mission to discover and exploit the city’s neglected underworld. The urban explorers put on film shows in underground galleries, restore medieval crypts and break into monuments after dark to organise plays and readings. In the eyes of their supporters, they are the white knights of modern culture, renovating forgotten buildings and staging artistic events beyond the reach of a stifling civil service.
The authorities view them differently: as the dark side of the City of Light – irresponsible, paranoid subversives whose actions could serve as a model for terrorists. A police unit has been trained to track les UX through the sewers, catacombs and old quarries that are their pathways under Paris. Prosecutors have been instructed to file charges whenever feasible.
The stand-off is symbolic of French society: a rigorous bureaucracy on the surface with a bizarre subculture below. ...
Mr Kunstmann said that les UX had 150 or so members divided into about ten branches.One group, which is all-female, specialises in “infiltration” – getting into museums after hours, finding a way through underground electric or gas networks and shutting down alarms. Another runs an internal message system and a coded, digital radio network accessible only to members.
A third group provides a database, a fourth organises subterranean shows and a fifth takes photographs of them. Mr Kunstmann refused to talk about the other groups.
He did, however, say that Lanso was the leader of a branch called the Untergunther – the name comes from a German record whose music served as an alarm on an early mission – which specialised in restoration. This group, whose members include architects and historians, rebuilt an abandoned 100-year-old French government bunker and renovated a 12th-century crypt, he said. They claim to be motivated by a desire to preserve Paris’s heritage.
Last year the Untergunther spent months hidden in the Panthéon, the Parisian mausoleum that holds France’s greatest citizens, where they repaired a clock that had been left to rust. Slipping in at closing time every evening – French television said that they had their own set of keys – they set up a workshop hidden behind mock wooden crates at the top of the monument. The security guards never found it. The Untergunther used a professional clockmaker, Jean-Baptiste Viot, to mend the 150-year-old mechanism.
When the clock began working again, officials were horrified. The Centre for National Monuments confirmed that the clock had been repaired but said that the authority had begun legal action against the Untergunther. Under official investigation for breaking and entry, its members face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a €15,000 (£10,500) fine.
“We could go down in legal history as the first people ever to be prosecuted for repairing a clock,” said Mr Kunstmann.
On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had a friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive at breakneck speed through the heart of Paris.
No streets were closed, for Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit.