HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, meg hourihanLa Seine, meg hourihan

Falling in love with romance-infused Paris – the grandiose Haussmannian architecture, the Marais’ winding streets, and the city’s bistro scene – is easy. But if you’re not born here, living in Paris is another story. It’s a whole other lifestyle, a mentality. And although it is hard not to love Paris for its compelling beauty alone, not everyone takes to Parisian life like a duck to water. While most will relish in its temptations, others will see its grayer side. The very visible problem of homelessness, the significantly different humor, the mentality…even the party chitchat is different. The grimy metro, overflowing museums, and the onslaught of hipsters all take some getting used to as well. Paris may not be very far away from London, my hometown, but when I moved here, everything seemed far removed from what I knew. The unashamed indulgence in pleasure, the variety and standard of the food, the slower pace of life, the abundance of cultural activities, and the city’s manageable size are features I had a hard time finding elsewhere.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, drburtoni
HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Roseval, Didier Gauducheau PL9A3093Drburtoni/ Roseval, Didier Gauchucheau

And then one day, I woke up Parisian. In other words, living a dichotomy of loving and hating the city, yelling at people for inconsiderate behavior on public transport, eating out most days, and when the sun shines, running to the nearest grassy spot no matter how crowded are now commonplace.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Parisinfourmonths, Sveta BogomovolaParis in Four Months/ Sveta Bogomovola

1. Metro rules. Like real Parisians, I would rather prolong my journey by 10 minutes than change metros twice to get anywhere. Even if the metro stops are close together, it’s just impractical.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Xwilly Azel 3
HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Michael HallXwilly Azel/Michael Hall

2. Drinking. Pleasure in France is no sin. On the contrary, it’s a right. The general lifestyle tends to include working hard and playing harder, which is why the “métro-boulo-apéro-dodo” (metro-work-apéritif-sleep) routine is golden in Paris, especially in the summer. Without second thought to the crowds, I too squeeze myself into a spot on the banks of the Seine and its canals – like the Canal de l’Ourcq or Saint-Martin – for cheese and wine with friends before sunset.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Jason WhittakerJason Whittaker

3. Food shopping rules. I no longer go to the supermarket to buy fruits and vegetables, but to one of the numerous neighborhood markets. And while I wouldn’t have expected to find myself donning a “caddy” (one of those fabric or plastic shopping carts) until well into my seventies, I converted and now have a funky pink one with orange hearts slapped all over it.

4. Eating out. Parisians dine out most days of the week (including weekends, unless they’re hosting a dinner party), so tables at good restaurants can be hard to come by. However, booking at a restaurant branché (fashionable) months ahead no longer bothers me or any self-respecting Parisian. It is only natural that the better the restaurant, the harder the challenge.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Palmyre Roigt, Le Bon Georges - 27-06-14-29
HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Palmyre Roigt, Le Bon Georges - 27-06-14-51Le Bon Georges, Palmyre Roigt

5. Geography. Each arrondissement has a distinct vibe to it, and where you live and spend your time says a lot about who you are. Bobo? You’ll likely never be seen in the 16ème.

6. Toilet habits. Parisians are freer creatures than they first let on. Peeing in the street is a man’s prerogative. I no longer frown at what seemed like an unsightly liberation in my culture.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Stefano BertolottiStefano Bertolotti

7. Les Parisiennes. Agile and focused, the real Parisienne can type a text message while smoking her cigarette and dodging dog poo on the pavement without breaking into a sweat, and I was glad when I had finally learned to keep my shoes pristine.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, twinkabauterTwinkabauter

8. Geography – lesson two. When inquiring about where people are from, I regularly make the Freudian slip of asking where they’re from in Paris when I mean France. Though you’d never know it from talking to some Parisians, there exists a great deal of France outside of Paris.

Becoming Parisian

David Fernandez

9. Dynamics of dining out. Like Parisians, I have grown immune to the general bad humor and disposition that reside in a large fraction of the city’s restaurant and bar staff. I even tip them…sometimes.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Gregory BastienGregory Bastian

10. Sightseeing. Most Parisians cannot recall the last time they saw the Eiffel Tower, and neither can I. However, most Parisians secretly adore Paris’ star attractions, as do I. I still smile when I see a small part of the Eiffel Tower appear unexpectedly above the rooftops or in an opening between streets.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Erin LudwigErin Ludwig

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Written by Rooksana Hossenally for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Rooksana Hossenally

Originally from London, Rooksana moved to Paris for what was supposed to be six months – it’s now been 12 years. A freelance journalist, she’s contributed to many publications from the New York Times, Forbes, and BBC Travel to Condé Nast Traveller and the Guardian. She’s headed up several print and online travel and culture magazines, and has worked with brands from L’Oréal to Glamour Magazine optimizing their online platforms. When not working, Rooksana’s scouring the city for new creative pockets, hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurants, and procrastinating about the book she’s meant to be writing.


  1. Hi Roxy,
    l was very happy reading your tongue in cheek article, sent to me by doreyya.Hope that you are keeping fine, just like all of us here in Mauritius.
    Regards to your mom and Reshad.
    Love from all of us here A l’ile Maurice.

  2. Hi Sonia!
    Thanks a lot for your comment and yes you are absolutely right. I’m originally from London and that’s how I feel about London. I guess that what I was pointing out were things that stood out for me while living here in Paris. I’m glad to hear there are real Parisians ‘qui ne se prennent pas trop la tête’! 🙂

  3. such a lovely insight to a beautiful city!! made me want to come there even more than i already do!! <3

  4. I was born in Paris and lived there for 36 years of my life.You could say i am a real parisienne even if i don’t live in France anymore.
    Reading your article made me laugh and i thought i gave you my opinion about what it is to be ‘Parisienne’. In my opinion you are really parisian when you do not try so hard to be one. Being parisian is about feeling free of things you need to do, places you need to be, habits you need to have, you just inhabit the city and its space freely without constraints.
    There is nothing less parisian than someone who tries very hard to immitate one. A true parisian feels at ease in Barbes as well as in rue de la Pompe,she is a free spirit that does not need to drive a bike, or have dinner along the Seine or all the cliches that built the cities image.
    This is the way i felt when i lived there a few years ago and this is how i still feel when i visit the city: totally free to be me. And by the way, i have always adored the Eiffel tower and felt free to say so, i always adored taking the metro regardless of the number of changes i had to do.I always very easily drifted from one arrondissement to the other just to stroll along the streets, Paris is a playground, a world in itself, do not limit yourself to some fashionable attitudes. Go everywhere, feel the life of a quartier, look at the people, smell the air, Paris has many many faces…..

  5. Hi Rox from San Fran! How funny, my nickname is also ‘Rox’ 🙂

    Thanks for your comment – can’t believe Paris and San Fran are so similar despite being separated by an entire ocean. Must have been sisters in a past life :p

  6. What a delightful insightful piece – I had to laugh because with a few minor exceptions you could also be describing my hometown, San Francisco! Thanks for making me smile!!!

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