‘Parisians are quite lovely’: Your verdict on quality of life in Paris

Terrace cafes in Montmatre, Paris.
Most readers of The Local told us that Paris is not such a bad place to live after all. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)
Paris frequently ranks close to the bottom of international rankings of the best cities for foreign residents to live. But is it really that bad? Here's the verdict from our readers.

After The Expat City Ranking 2021 placed Paris 51st out of 57 cities, we were hardly surprised. 

While most of us working at the Local France live in the French capital and enjoy life here, Paris rarely does well in the global rankings of the best cities for foreign residents. 

So we decided to ask for your views on life in the City of Light. Is it really as bad as the critics make out? 

The answer, according to most of you, is no. 

Over half of the scores of people who responded to our survey said that Paris is a good place to live. 

We have broken down what were, according to you, the key points: 

Culture and beauty 

By far and away, the culture and beauty of the city was the most commonly cited positive when it comes to life in the French capital. 

“Living in this city is at times like living in a beautiful museum. People from all over the world are drawn to this dramatic, glamorous city and I feel lucky to be here,” said Todd Foreman. 

Undoubtedly it is the culture of Paris which frequently makes it the most visited city in the world.

It is a city at the forefront of fashion, cuisine and art. It is home to more than 100 museums and galleries and more than 30,000 boulangeries. The trademark Haussmannian boulevards give the city centre a beautiful uniformity that is difficult to match elsewhere. And parks like the Buttes-Chaumont are sublime. 

Peter Ford praised the city’s “architecture, parks, low-level buildings general ambiance.” 

READ MORE 14 unexpected facts on careers, culture, food and fashion in Paris 

Paris is also steeped in jazz heritage and has a burgeoning techno and LGBTQI+ scene too. 

Many of you also pointed out the French work culture has its benefits too. France has strong workers’ protections and employees work some of the shortest hours of any country in the OECD.

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See also on The Local:

Public services 

Many of you wrote in to say that public transport, healthcare and other public services are highly affordable in Paris compared to elsewhere. 

“It’s very accessible – every part of the city (and quite a long way beyond!) is in reach with a very affordable metro pass,” said Matthew Preston. 

In comparison to countries like the USA, healthcare is incredibly cheap. And waiting times to see a GP are generally far shorter than in places like the UK. It is no wonder that the average French life expectancy is higher here (82.5) than in either of those countries. It has been suggested however that the air pollution in Paris is as dangerous as smoking 183 cigarettes per year

“The bureaucracy takes a little bit of time to get used to. It took us a year to get into the health care system, but once we were in it seemed to work very well,” said Jess. 

Some of you also pointed out that the geographic position of Paris makes it easy to visit other places in Europe by plane, train and automobile. 

While great public services and transport links were a common theme, many of you said that housing prices in the French capital are prohibitively expensive. Per square metre, Paris has one of the most expensive property markets in the world

READ MORE Three ways the 2022 budget makes it easier to buy or renovate French property

Parisians 

This one proved divisive. 

Lots of you wrote in to describe Parisians as “rude”, “xenophobic”, and “dirty”. Others even complained that the French don’t speak English. There’s a clue to what language they speak in their name.

“The way Parisians talk about foreigners and other minorities – it’s actually hideous sometimes,” wrote Juan David Romero. 

Rameez Sayed said that Parisians are “unfriendly, rude and always have a resting bitchy face.” 

“Paris residents exude unhappiness in their own lives and take it out on expatriates as a means to lift their own spirits and provide a target for their animosity,” said Pat Hallam.

“Dating here is brutal,” added Erin Gould. “It’s the least romantic city you can imagine.”

Admittedly, even French people from outside the capital believe in a negative stereotype of the snooty Parisian. 

But a number of you said that a little bit of effort can go a long way. 

READ MORE Who are really the rudest – the French, tourists or Parisians?

“As long as you make an effort in French, I’ve found Parisians quite lovely,” said Andy McGough. 

“There is the rudeness factor but the good outweighs the bad,” added Corinne Lloyd. 

Others described Parisians as more kinder than residents of other capital cities, even going as far to compliment their politeness. 

“I appreciate the politeness and character of the locals,” said Virginia Choy. “Paris is gentler and less materialistic than London and Sydney.”

Like in every other city around the world, there are good and bad people. And even these labels are pretty subjective. 


Member comments

  1. As a long-term ex-pat, two things stand out: 1.) Paris visitors do NOT respect French culture, Parisians, or Paris in general; 2.) For ex-pats (and visitors), Paris owes you NOTHING! It is entirely up to you to embrace your host city diplomatically or face the dire and mostly legitimate consequences.

    Remember, there is a solution for stubborn, arrogant, and ethnocentric visitors to Paris: EuroDisney.

    P.S. The dreaded, insidious, revolting, and ironic ‘Disneyfication’ of La Capitale must stop. It is responsible for many of these issues…

  2. Traveling to Paris multiple times we’ve been unable to find the stereotypical rude Parisian experience. We find the city and her people to be warm and generous. We had a meal and wine secretly bought for us after a 45 chat with our neighbor table – with limited French. We have made deep friendships (a thing not supposed to happen according to some) and are now considering Paris a place to live. In terms of cost, we’re from LA so much of Paris is to us a welcome relief in prices with incredible quality.

  3. We chose Lyon over Paris simply because of size and being in a city with fewer tourists. But in our 8 years of living and traveling in France, we have found the French to be very nice and helpful on the whole. In a city like Paris (or New York), residents expect you to know how to conduct yourself – pace of walking, not stopping at the top of the Metro steps, how to order in a restaurant. Things are a bit more relaxed in Lyon – I tell friends that Lyon is to Paris what San Francisco is to New York; not a perfect comparison, but workable.
    And we visit Paris whenever we have the chance.

  4. Nah, I think it is pretty subpar as an expat city in general. Just feels kind of backward/inward-looking compared to other major cities worldwide. Less parochial than smaller European capitals, but not really on a par with London/NYC

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