An American In Paris

5 Apr

As mentioned yesterday, things are going to be a bit different around here this week. To celebrate my one year blogaversary,  instead of my usual one or two posts, there will be a ‘week of international guest posts’. Not only does it give me a little break (yay!), but it also gives me a chance to showcase some of the kick-ass bloggers I’ve discovered over the past year. Kicking off the proceedings is the lovely Helene aka The Man-shopper. Originally from California, Helene ran away to the East Coast of the US for college, rashly bought a one-way ticket to England to be with a boy, and has been an expat ever since.

An American In Paris

Hello, Single Filez readers!  Helene the Man-shopper here, reporting from Paris…

I’ve noticed that most non-parisian singletons (and non-singletons, for that matter), seem to have romanticized, idealistic and almost love-struck ideas about Paris as the most romantic city in the world.

Is this really true?

Yes and no.

Yes, Paris is a beautiful city.  Its architecture, its history, its culture, and its cultural scene all undoubtedly lend it a certain romantic aura.  It oozes so much beauty that one is led to believe that this beauty penetrates all areas of parisian life.  For most people, this is enough.  After a few days, three months, a year, and sometimes two, they leave convinced.

However, no, in the realm of actual romance, Paris is a city full of miserable people.  (Female) singletons past the age of 25 are assumed to be fundamentally flawed in some way.  Parisian women are constantly suspicious of their men’s behavior, and parisian men constantly complain about their cold, nagging women.

***Disclaimer, I am obviously making gross generalizations about the parisian scene.  I recognize this, and I am okay with this.  Deal with it :)***

From my observations and from what my French friends have told me, most parisian couples have more or less followed the same trajectory in order to arrive in their committed relationships.

In their high school and/or college years, they ran around with the same group of friends.  Eventually, people within these groups begin to pair off into couples.  By their mid-twenties, they are in committed relationships or even marriages with these people.

In other words, people here don’t date.  They don’t have a word for a date.  Or dating.  One minute, they are having rendez-vous with someone, and the next minute, they are an item.  There is nothing in between.  There is no trial period.  No buts, no cuts, no takebacksies.

And since they paired off so young, and since they didn’t have much “dating” (in the anglophone sense of the word) experience, it is not long after this point that eyes begin to wander.  The men cheat every chance they get.  The women let it slide as long as they don’t know.  This continues indefinitely, through marriage, through divorce, through another marriage….

Not very romantic, no?

I started my blog partly as a form of therapy to ward off bitterness and possible homicidal tendencies, and partly as an attempt to spread the word that romance in Paris may indeed be a myth — a myth created by transients who never stayed long enough to know any better and by the miserable stayers who wove lies in order to make themselves feel better about being stuck here.

I’ve been in Paris for five years, and since coming here, my romantic encounters have featured:

– exotification and unacknowledged racism
– some alarmingly unprogressive views about women and femininity
– harassment and physical assault in the street that goes well beyond catcalls
– shocking disregard for principles that I value: fidelity, honesty, maturity and general respect

It’s okay.  I suppose that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

The French are unequaled in their ability to make crusty bread and croissants that will melt in your mouth.

But I can tell you right now that you’d be hard-pressed to find a decent carrot cake in this city.

And don’t even get me started on the burger situation here.


Check out Helene’s blog ‘Man-shopping in Paris‘ and follow her on Twitter @man_shopper


7 Responses to “An American In Paris”

  1. The Hopeful Romantic April 5, 2011 at 3:12 PM #

    Wow, Helene, my eyes are truly opened! It sounds like you have had quite the time of it…physical assault? WTH??

    If blogging wards off bitterness – long may ye blog I say!

    • TheSingleFilez April 5, 2011 at 4:08 PM #

      Eye-opening indeed. I too am guilty of always thinking about Paris as a city ‘full of romance’ but damn girl, this is enough to make me think…. its time for you to move on!!

      • Man-shopper April 6, 2011 at 3:30 PM #

        @Hopeful – Yup, physical assault… I wish that I were making that up!

        @SingleFilez – Official announcement to come later, but I am definitely moving on to bigger and beter things soon!

  2. singlegirlie April 5, 2011 at 5:57 PM #

    Wow, I am so glad to hear this! People are constantly saying stuff like, “The French aren’t so uptight about sex and fidelity. Cheating is no big deal to them.” This sheds some light on the situation. Thanks for giving us a little dose of reality.

    And don’t get me started on those uncircumcised penises.

    • Man-shopper April 6, 2011 at 4:08 PM #

      The cheating situation is a little out of control here. Wife, girlfriend, fiancée… they don’t make a difference!

      As for the penis, I’ll leave it up to others to publicly speak on this 😉

  3. Dazediva April 6, 2011 at 11:43 AM #

    Paris – c’est pas tres romantique !
    What an eye-opener of a post !
    I’ve been to Paris a few times, and whilst the architecture and city is beautiful and romanticized; actually living there and experiencing the culture is a different shock altogether.

    Yeah for croissants; boo-hoo for lack of other vegetarian foods 😦

    • Man-shopper April 6, 2011 at 4:11 PM #

      If anything, I’ve learnt that living the expat life comes with a whole host of its own problems. Don’t get me wrong, it has its perks too, so maybe I’ll talk about that another time…

      And yes, lack of vegetarian options is a major problem! Even foreign cuisines that are naturally vegetarian-friendly are corrupted by French influence and become meat-heavy here.

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