When traveling to Paris, one phrase you often hear is “c‘est comme cą” – not to be confused with “c’est la vie“. Loosely translated to “that’s just the way it is”, I highly recommend this is how you approach your travel to the City of Light. Don’t question, just accept, and a much better time you will have. The following six “c’est comme cą” scenarios crop up often, particularly when renting an apartment.
1. Mice. All good french apartments have mice, some more friendly than others. If you happen to find one living with you, you might as well name it. We have shared an apartment with Ratatouille, so named for his penchant for hiding in our garbage and his particular fondness for salted caramel Ladurée macarons. Then there was sweet little Frances who lived near the Nespresso machine (broken) and who we didn’t see much of after day 1, apart from the occasional droppings left on counters. We now store everything in the fridge when visiting to keep it out of the hands of any apartment mice. Absolutely no point complaining about the mice, as the only answer you will get in return is: “Mais c’est Paris! C’est comme cą.”
2. Plumbing. It is highly probable that your toilet will back up, the kitchen sink will overflow, or your tiny water heater will go on the fritz. This usually happens on evenings or weekends when no one from your rental agency is working (disclaimer: one time I actually did get a very nice agent to call me back to help on a weekend). Make sure one person in your group is handy or can at least read enough French to get through a complicated user manual.
3. Construction. Building renovation never ends in Paris. The good news- the contractors don’t work long hours, take leisurely lunch breaks, and you will be out enjoying the city all day anyway. Just don’t try to nap after your early morning arrival.
4. Dog poo. Do not forget to constantly watch where you are walking, as Fifi was just let out on the sidewalk. Parisians do not pick up dog poo-it is beneath them, literally. Also, beware the French pigeons from above.
5. Supermarkets. Unlike the US, where shelves are mostly restocked after hours, Parisian supermarkets (London ones as well) love to do all the restocking at prime rush hour times. Aisles are blocked with pallets of Perrier while hangry shoppers elbow you to grab the last Brie de Meaux. Better to shop at outdoor street markets anyway. Don’t forget your reusable shopping bag.
6. Wine. Wine is cheaper than Coke or café crème. You will never be without a wine opener or two in your apartment. This is a great thing.
All of this is not to deter you from visiting Paris- quite the opposite. For those that do not live there full time, these idiosyncrasies can be endearing. So simply shrug and exclaim: “C’est comme cą. C’est Paris.“