When we were planning this move last year and told people we’d be living six months in Munich and six months in Paris, every American asked “Why Munich?” and every European colleague asked “Why Paris?”. Now we know.
The change has been a bit of a shock – in fact I think it took a few weeks to recover and get this post up! Locals describe Munich as a big village, and that’s what it feels like to live there: it’s very pleasant and friendly with big clean streets, dog friendly with many parks and trees, excellent transit, reasonable prices, good beer and food. There aren’t that many sights, so tourists are mainly found in the Marienplatz downtown shopping area. Very easy to get around and enjoy.
Paris, on the other hand, is big, dirty and filled with people seemingly everywhere. The streets feel as if a three-hour weekly monsoon for a year would be a good start toward washing the grime away. Even Enzo seems troubled by the amount of dirt and trash he steps through walking down the sidewalk in search of some grass or a tree or some greenery somewhere. There are not many parks at all, and most that are around do not allow dogs and are reserved for children. (This makes sense since Parisians are not at all accustomed to picking up dog droppings – any park with dogs would quickly become a litter box.) The Paris Metro trains all seem to be full all the time, day or night. A local told us that Parisians are rude because the city is very cramped and the trains are very crowded and the small sidewalks are crowded and this makes everyone grumpy. Seems plausible to me. Now that we’re living here instead of just visiting as tourists, one gets the feeling that it’s this beautiful city center – really like an outdoor museum – plopped into the middle of a third-world infrastructure.
And, can I just say that it’s crazy expensive here? A beer can easily run $9-$15, so you can image the price of other things. But at long last, the culture shock is easing and Paris is revealing more of her charms.