Those living in the suburbs around Paris shared this week why they love life in the banlieues. We even went as far as to select seven suburbs that you should consider moving to.
But it's not all rosy out there, apparently.
Here's the other side of the picture, according to those who either call the suburbs home – or those who've already upped sticks and moved to Paris.
You can't get your Paris friends over
Many Parisians think that life outside the Périphérique is life in the sticks. And this makes it very hard to entice Paris friends out for a drink, apparently.
“When you invite your Paris friends to visit you in the banlieue you are either greeted with a polite refusal or outright laughter to your face,” says Australian Sean Barker, who is in the process of moving to Paris after living in Sèvres to the south west.
“And this is even after you told them of the fresh air and streets that don’t smell like pee.”
No, this is not a typical Paris soirée. Photo: Pixabay
You're the 'killjoy' of the Paris parties
So if you do venture into Paris for a drink or two, you'll inevitably be the first to leave due to the difficulties of getting home (more on this later).
And having to head home early means you're that person kills the mood.
“I had to move into the city to avoid being the early leaving buzzkill at a soirée in Paris,” Barker adds.
… Because a taxi ride home is just too expensive
Yes, if you miss the last train home – and often the last train home is at an unreasonably early hour – you're going to be faced with a whopping bill.
Even with cheaper options like Uber, suburb-dwellers told The Local that the trip could easily head north of €50.
And worse still … the train connections are unreliable
It's not just that they can be few and far between – the train services can also let you down.
American Ana Manzana, who lived for three years in Sainte Geneviève des Bois to the south of Paris, said the RER train service was a “massive inconvenience”.
“I work at a restaurant, so if I finished later than usual, and missed the last train, I would have to wait for the Noctilien night bus which was an hour and a half ride,” she says.
“Then there are constantly problems on the RER – for a while I was dependent on the Noctilien. After a long shift at work I would fall asleep on the Noctilien and would set up an alarm to wake up at my station.”
The suburbs don't always have a good internet connection
While it may not always be perfect in Paris, internet services can be terrible outside the Périphérique.
Martha McRoy, 30, an American who lives in Neuilly-sur-Seine just across the western edge of the ring road, said the internet services are in the stone age.
“We live one block off the main road (Avenue Charles de Gaulle) yet fibre internet is not offered. We're still stuck living in the stone age of DSL internet,” she says.
She says it can be so slow that she can't even have video calls with her family back home sometimes.
“We stay in touch with our friends in the US through video games. We brought our Xbox One with us to Paris to specifically play with friends back home, regardless of the time difference. With the issues of DSL, it's nearly impossible to play games with them.”
Photo: Li Kelly/Flickr
There's a big age gap
Several people said that life in the banlieues simply wasn't for the younger generation if they wanted a social life.
Most English-speaking foreigners in the suburbs around Paris are pensioners or parents, it seems.
“We haven't really found people in our area that we'd be friends with,” says Martha McRoy in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
“The suburbs are full of those a bit older than us, or those with children and families. I just turned 30, am married but have no kids, so we just don't fit in as much.”
Everything closes too early
Another regular complaint about the suburbs was that everything apparently closes too early. Bars, cafes, supermarkets, restaurants, boulangeries… you name it.
And don't even mention things closing on Sundays.
“My local grocery stores shut down at noon and most restaurants aren't open on Sundays at all,” says Martha McRoy in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
“If we want to go out to eat, we need to travel.”
Photo: Sylvain Naudin/Flickr
… And you can forget about the local nightlife
Looking for a nightclub? Forget it. And a bar that's open late? You're dreaming.
Yes, you'll have to head into Paris for a good night out (and suffer the transport risks on the way home — see above).
“Everything closes at 10.30pm. The only nightlife is hanging out at the local McDonald's,” says Australian Sean Barker in Sevres.
“It seems like it's only the local teenagers who hang out there too. There's just no options for those who want to stay out.”
It's hard to bring your groceries home
With a distinct lack of a Metro connection in many suburbs to go with a distinct lack of food stores, grocery shopping can take on some unexpected difficulties.
Lize Milson who worked as a nanny in Meudon, said that only the local boulangerie was open on a Sunday.
“If you needed to go shopping then you had to get to the other end of the suburb, and with no transport nearby then you're left with a 40 minute walk,” she said. “And if you wanted to buy groceries then it would be a nightmare to bring them back.”
There is a limit to the things you can see (compared to Paris)
One of the attractions of Paris is that there are undiscovered treasures on every corner. New restaurants and cultural activities crop up every week, and there are tourist options aplenty.
But the same can't be said about some suburbs, says Ben Simpson, who moved from the western suburbs to central Paris last year.
“If you wanted to take a Sunday stroll in the town then it would take 20 minutes, max,” he says.
“Even though the area was really rich in history, there are only so many times you can explore it. But Paris seems never ending in comparison.”
The great outdoors in Issy-les-Moulineaux… but how many times can you see it? Photo: Issy.com
It's too far away from the action
This was the common complaint about life in the suburbs – and is essentially the key reason behind the majority of the complaints above.
The suburbs are simply too far away from Paris and that means that people looking for a “city” life will inevitably miss out on a lot.
But there's good news. The Grand Paris project is going to see major changes to the Paris suburbs, most notably with four new Metro lines scheduled to open by 2030 that should truly bring everyone closer. For more information click here.
Let the countdown begin.