​There are animals in Paris. Mostly rats, actually, which you can sometimes observe scurrying around the metro tracks. And pigeons, the rats of the air. Small critters are fewer in between. I guess because nearly all surfaces here are covered in asphalt.

There are upsides to this if you don’t like spiders, for example. And everybody can agree that a place is better if you take away mosquitoes. But, coming from a small city and having had the luxury of growing up in a house with a big garden I cannot shake the feeling of how far removed life here is from being natural. This is by no means a given for all major cities, by the way. There are foxes in Berlin!
Despite its great density of people, Paris can be a lonely place. I suppose that is one of the reasons why people have pets here. Cats seem to do alright, but dogs … What makes you think that an animal that needs the outdoors more than you do would be OK in a concrete jungle? Seeing a fat dog waddling behind his owner breaks my heart.
Well, there is one fat dog in Montmartre that kinda lives the life of a king. He walks around and gets a treat wherever he goes. He’s the dog version of Gérard Depardieu.
One last thought: I only know of one quartier in Paris where you can find cockroaches. Ironically it’s around the Champs Elysees. Makes me smile that the rich there have to deal with those pests, when around Barbes you don’t.


True Paris Flavour

 A walk along the Seine, on the eve of a beautiful summer day. It has been hot and dry for days now, and the stench is overwhelming. Especially underneath the bridges you are holding your breath as you run towards fresher air.
Paris has quite an outdoor peeing culture. It seems natural for men to unzip and mark a tree. Or a car. On the door hinge.

I never understood this: if you have to piss because you’ve had that many beers, chances are that you are not too far away from a pub anyways – why not ask to use their bathroom? Granted, it would be nice if there were more public bathrooms throughout the city, but one sees more often public urinals, useable only by men, than real toilets. And yet, women seem to be able to hold it in just fine.

I look outside my window at night, and regularly see somebody pissing on a tree. Those little squares around a tree trunk, where you can see the ground? Yeah, avoid them at all cost. They are saturated with urine.

Some places are better, some places are worse, and some places are downright toxic. There is a construction site right across the street. The area is fenced off, and between the fence and the next parked car seems to be a new favorite spot, attracting pissers from the entire quarter. The color of the asphalt is now noticeably different. Last week there was also a turd. Nice.

But, since there is no escape, you deal with it. You maybe start avoiding that stretch along the Seine, or that street behind the Gare de l’Est. And you’re grateful for every cleansing summer rain.


This is the post excerpt.

This is from an expat, coming from a smallish city with lots of nature, now living in France’s biggest metropolitan area. Everybody seems to love Paris – I don’t. So, to add some counterweight to the general narrative I am writing about how I perceive this giant, crowded, grey centre of everything.

What I write is therapeutic. It helps me vent. Don’t look for factual accuracy here.