By: Andrea Bouchaud
Paris is a unique town. Getting to know it before you go study abroad will help you to acclimate to it faster and better. Let’s look at some quick facts to know about Paris to better help you prepare for the experience of living in Paris.
-A pharmacy is always recognizable by the green cross sign outside. A tobacco shop is always recognizable by the red diamond shaped sign outside.
- France has both a president and a prime minister. The president is the ultimate head of the country and runs the country for five years. This is a decrease from the previous 7 year term.
- When going to museums and sites around the city, be sure to bring your French college ID card and ask for the tarif jeune which is a lower priced ticket for people aged 14-26. If you really enjoy going to museums those admission tickets can add-up quickly and these tarif jeunes can help out financially.
-Parisian apartments are not legally mandated to have fire escapes. Do not be surprised if the housing arrangement in which you are residing in Paris does not have a fire escape.
-If you decide to drive in France remember that the price of gas is by litre not gallon and that four litres equal one gallon. For example if gas is 1,30 euro this means that it costs one euro and thirty cents per litre which is 5,20 euro a gallon. Remember that in speaking le gaz refers to natural gas and l’essence refers to gasoline.
- Remember that Europe has a different electrical system than America. If you are bringing American electrical appliances, be sure to buy an adapter in the United States prior to your departure.
-The French quotation mark goes as follows << >>; they do not use ” ”
-French notebooks use graph paper instead of college ruled paper.
-To write time in France, use an ‘h’ where you would normally place a colon. 7:30 in America is 7 h 30 in France. In addition, there must be a space between the numbers and the “h”.
-France and Europe uses military time which counts up to twenty-four hours, not using two sets of counting to twelve. It can be confusing to see a digital clock that reads 17:00 but just remember to subtract 12 (17:00 would be 5:00 pm American time system). The am/pm system is not used in France as the military time indicates whether it is morning or evening through the continued count of the hours. Also note that even though military time uses the twenty-four hour counting system, midnight is not counted as 24 but rather as 0. Although military time is used, it is acceptable to use the American system of counting two sets of twelve. In this case, you must indicate the time of day. For example, quatre heure de l’après-midi means four o’clock in the afternoon.
- Street signs are located on the side of buildings and not on posts- this actually goes for all of Europe.
- The date goes before the month in Europe. 3/4 is not March 4th but rather April 3rd.
- When writing the month or day of the week, use lower case. They are not capitalized in French.
- The French use commas were we use decimal points. Example $4.25 would be 4, 25 euro. For bigger numbers they use spaces. Example $17,500 would be 17 500 euro.
- Paris is composed of twenty districts. The first few districts start at the river and spiral its way out from the center of Paris. Each district has its own mayor and then those twenty mayors vote for the overall mayor of Paris. In total, there are twenty-one mayors that run the city of Paris. When written, the word district in French “arrondissement” is abbreviated by an ‘e’ (example: 6e means the sixth district or sixième arrondissement).
-The river Seine is the river that divides Paris into two but not in half. The right bank or la rive droite is the bigger bank and is the ‘northern’ part of the city if you are looking at a map. The left bank or la rive gauche is the smaller of the two and is generally more rich and chic. Each district on the left bank touches the Seine river at some point. Remember that the districts near the major sites and the river tend to be the richer districts.
-Paris is city code #75. All Parisian zip codes start with 75 and the last 2 numbers represent which district you are in. For example, when I lived in Paris I lived in the sixth district. My zip code was 75006.
- The best advice I was ever given to surviving in Paris goes as follows: When walking down the street in Paris you must look up to admire and enjoy the beautiful scenery and architecture but you also need to look down to avoid stepping in dog doo-doo. The Parisians are fond of dogs and you will see many in Paris. France has the same rules about dog walking that the United States does in regards to picking up your dog’s waste. Unfortunately, there are always those individuals who do not think that their dogs should go to the bathroom in a designated spot or that they need to pick up their dog’s waste. These are the individuals whose dog’s fecal matter you will encounter on the (narrow) sidewalk- so be on the lookout!
These fun facts do not replace the additional research you must do on your soon to be new home but are a great start to get you ready for the journey and experience that awaits you in the City of Light.