Some Things Never Change

Some Things Never Change, Thank Goodness! Photo by Tim O’Rielly

Some Things Never Change

Parler Paris–your daily taste of life in Paris and France

Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Paris, France


Due to difficulties for all of our readers to see the daily photo, for a few weeks there will be no photo in the email while our Webmasters correct the problem.

Meanwhile, you can always view this issue
ON THIS DATE ONLY by going directly to the home page of Parler Paris at /parlerparis/ or
AT ANY TIME by going directly to the issue Web page at:

P.S. If you want to see any day’s issue, just visit the above address, but substitute the DATE (European with day/month/year). For example, the December 15th issue “Dead in Your Paris Tracks” with the photo of the Wild Boar, can be seen by visiting /parlerparis/issues/pparis15-12-03.html

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

On this last day of the year, it is natural to reflect on how I’ve seen Paris and France change since I arrived more than nine years ago. Yesterday’s newsletter outlining the ten objectives of the new initiatives set forth by the Prime Minister are a perfect example of how attitudes toward business, immigration and the idea of a global presence have done a 180-degree turn.

When I arrived, the “Minitel” was France’s precursor to the Internet. It was an ugly little box with a gray screen, ASCII-style characters and cost a fortune to use by the minute, but provided an information network for all of France — a brilliant forerunner to the Net. Because of it (and because the only French who knew to type were trained secretaries), the French were slow to embrace the age of cyberspace and computers in general. But, in typical French fashion, once the concept caught on, especially with the young, it spread like wildfire. Today, they are as technically advanced and perhaps more so than any of their European counterparts.

Fast food was just taking hold about that time. McDonald’s was already here, but the French were still complaining about it ruining the landscape. Now they’re lining up for the Big Mac on every corner in every town. And just this year (sadly), Starbucks has hit the French pavements. Even a classic sandwich was not an easy commodity to find nine years ago, but now, almost every bakery stockpiles them for luncheoners, the sandwich chains sell them curbside and you actually see people eating them as they walk down the sidewalk like we Americans have come to eat in our cars on route to our next appointments.

The French who spoke English were either the better educated, the better traveled or worked in the tourist industry. Now, almost everyone speaks English, at least at a passable level, and more importantly, isn’t afraid to use it, perfectly spoken or not. One of the things I realized not long after living here, is that we (Americans) assumed the French were too arrogant to speak English…but it wasn’t that at all…it’s just that they didn’t feel comfortable speaking it without making mistakes not having practiced it much. And once you understand this culture, you can understand how important perfection is. Now, they are quite proud of their ability to be so international.

Then, some things never change, or have a harder time making the transition. For example, try as they might with special cleaning crews and ad campaigns, there’s still plenty of doog poop to step in. The queues to get your visas at the Préfecture de Police are still a mile long (maybe longer). The independent merchants still shut down tight in August and customer service is not yet as accommodating as we’re used to Stateside where the customer is king.

But you know what? Isn’t that why we’re here? For all the things that haven’t changed?

Happy New Year! A la prochaine année…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. We’re taking a day off January 1st from Parler Paris, but all you subscribers to French Property Insider will have your January 1 issue waiting for you.

* * *

* Further resources:

* Now the cultural hub for English-speaking Blacks — Africans, African-Americans, West Indians, Blacks from the UK and Canada — Paris is home.

* Learn how to live and invest in France! We’re meeting in San Francisco this March.

* Many people don’t have the time nor the resources to look for their own little piece of France, especially if they’re located in the States or other foreign country.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
French Property Insider is an e-mail newsletter from the editors of Parler Paris. If you’d like to learn about the insights, recommendations, and discoveries about buying and investing in real estate in Paris and France that French Property Insider readers get
every week, read more about a subscription here: or call 1-800-643-2479.


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