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It’s no secret—I love living in Paris. But life here isn’t all roses and butterflies. Let’s explore the pros and the cons!

Hotel Jeanne d'Arc in the Marais decorated with flowers and a bike outside
Sometimes, there are roses and butterflies.

Although I’m clearly biased, I think I managed to keep my list fairly balanced. After visiting Paris several times and now living in the capital for a year and a half, I came up with 16 positive and 16 negative aspects about life in Paris. These are based on my personal experiences so keep in mind that a pro for me might be a con for you. I’d love to hear about your perspective in the comments below.

I also tried to keep these points specifically geared towards life in Paris because taking on France in its entirety is a whole other ball game.

Pros

  • Beautiful architecture: I will forever be enamored with the buildings here and their ornate decorations.
  • Old world charm: Paris is old… in a good way. You never know what you might stumble upon around the corner. 
  • Great entertainment: It’s hard to be bored in this city with all there is to do year-round.
  • Parks & green spaces: There are big, well-known areas like Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Jardin du Luxembourg, and Bois de Vincennes, but there are also lots of little nooks and crannies throughout the city.
  • Bars, restaurants, food: I’m unsure if I should instead be listing this one as a con for my waistline…
  • Bakeries: They get their own bullet point. Obviously. It’s so easy to locate a nearby bakery in Paris for all your last-minute croissant emergencies. There is usually always one open in the neighborhood even on a Sunday.
  • Everything you need: Being in a city like Paris means that you have a lot of options at your fingertips. You can generally find whatever you need and want or at least a suitable substitute (like if your stock of American creature comforts is running low). 
  • Choice of doctors: I feel very lucky that you can pick and choose doctors and specialists based on ratings and location in Paris, without ever having to wait too long for an appointment.
  • Diversity: Paris is multicultural with people, languages, restaurants, markets, and cultural events reflecting different identities.
  • Expat community: There are plentiful opportunities to connect with other immigrants as well as French people who have moved to Paris as long as you are willing to put yourself out there. 
  • Walkable city: Paris is big, but it’s mostly walkable for day-to-day life. 
  • Public transportation: You are never too far from a metro or bus stop. There are even night buses. 
  • Bike lanes: This one is a work in progress but coming along, thanks to Covid and Anne Hidalgo.
Paris green and blue Vélib city bikes lined up in from of Maison de la Nouvelle-Calédonie
  • Vélib: People are always hating on the city bike system because the bikes are clunky and admittedly, they don’t work all the time, but for less than $4 a month, I can take an unlimited number of half-hour rides. That’s such a good deal.
  • Travel: Paris is very much a hub to other parts of France and beyond. Day trips are very manageable! Trains, planes, and car rentals are all readily available to take you anywhere in Europe (or out of it!).

Cons

  • Dirt and grime: Dog poop on the sidewalks and the smell of urine are the first two things that come to mind.
  • Smoking: Sitting next to a smoker on a café terrace really ruins the experience. Smoking is still quite popular in France. 
  • Noise: Something about how the noise just echos up from the street to your apartment. If you know, you know. 
  • Weather: Paris is often grey and drizzly. Unexpected showers are common which is why I always have this compact umbrella in my bag. 
Eiffel Tower on a gray, overcast fall day in Paris
  • Old world charm: Paris is old… in a bad way. Many apartment buildings are outdated with small kitchens, tiny elevators (or none at all), and old, leaky pipes.
  • Lack of air conditioning: It gets hot in the city but outside of clothing stores, you won’t find much of a reprieve. In some apartment buildings, certain types of air conditioning units are not even allowed for aesthetic reasons. 
  • Cost of living: The cost of living, from rent & utilities to going out to eat (let’s not even talk about the $15 cocktails), is high.
  • Housing Market: A great apartment within your budget can be hard to come by.
  • Parisians: I don’t have many Parisian friends. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt here and say that it can be difficult to meet people from Paris simply because they have already established their own friend circles.
  • Creeps on the streets: I get hit on way too often. Go away.
  • Pickpockets: I feel a need to be vigilant when I’m out and about. I’ve heard way too many stories of people getting their phone or valuables stolen, especially on the metros. 
  • Tourists: It’s kind of cool to see people loving on my favorite city, but I want her all to myself.
  • Crowds: Between the tourists and the locals, you have to compete to get a spot on the metro, to enter a museum, and to snag a spot at your favorite café.
  • Traffic: Renting a car to get out of the city might seem like a great idea until you realize that you’ll be spending half of the trip just trying to literally get out of the city.
  • Strikes: Not only do strikes make certain streets impassable, the police often shut down surrounding metro stops. Depending on where you live in Paris, strikes can be a regular inconvenience.
  • Lack of accessibility: From the cobblestone streets to the narrow, cracked sidewalks to all the stairs you’ll encounter in the metro… Paris is not very handicap-friendly. Or baby-friendly. Or older-people-friendly. Or clumsy-people-friendly. Or luggage-friendly.

I think Emily in Paris was missing a few of this downsides… What would you add to the list?

Living in Paris: A List of Pros and Cons
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6 thoughts on “Living in Paris: A List of Pros and Cons

  • February 27, 2021 at 3:09 pm
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    Yes, yes, YES to the cons! My parents lived there for a year and a half and experienced attempted pickpocketing 4 times before they were finally successful on the 5th. (Nothing screams “try to take my purse” more than being an Asian person speaking American English.) For that reason, we much prefer living outside of Paris where it’s cleaner and safer. That being said, your pros were spot on, too – no one beats Paris for architecture and we are frequently in Paris for our doctor and dentist appointments. And we love the diversity of restaurants in Paris (when they’re allowed to be open). 🍽

    Reply
    • March 1, 2021 at 10:01 am
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      Some pickpockets are really stealthy. It’s sad that you have to be aware of it and even being aware of it isn’t always enough to prevent it from happening.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective! I hope we can experience restaurants and cafés again soon.

      Reply
    • April 18, 2021 at 2:41 pm
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      Most of my clients are Japanese and over 50% have been pickpocketed and 50% of their friends who have come to visit have been pickpocketed. Unfortunately they believe that Paris is like what the read in Japan and don’t realize what a mess this city is in reality

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      • April 20, 2021 at 11:28 am
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        Many people have a very unrealistic idea of what they think Paris will be like!

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  • March 10, 2021 at 2:52 pm
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    Loved your assessment of the city; it’s much as Grandpa and I remember on our visits. Learned to carry only what you need in a flat pouch hung around your neck inside your clothing, that way a pickpocket would have to be directly in front of you. We also learned that many of the children begin learning how to pickpocket at a very young age. Sad but true. Be careful of young children gathering around you as one of them is the pickpocket. On one of our trips, a woman’s purse was opened and contents stolen while inside a church. Passports were the booty of choice then. Just be aware and don’t carry anything you don’t need. Now I sound like a Grandma!!!

    Reply
    • March 12, 2021 at 10:54 am
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      haha, thanks, Granny! It’s unfortunate that we feel the need to take so many precautions to protect ourselves and our possessions while in such a beautiful city.

      Reply

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