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The word “putain“

In daily Parisian life you may hear the word putain very often, a lot of Parisian people uses the word without thinking of the actual meaning. “Putain” is the most commonly used swear word among French people … 

“Putain” comes from the word pute, which means: dirty woman. If French people use the word pute they are probably directing the insult at a person, for example; “she is such a pute”. French people don’t really get the weight of the word; the word has a less strong meaning as the equivalent word in another language such as whore. “Putain” is as versatile as ‘fuck’ but is less strong. French people can use the word as well when they are disappointed or to express that the weather is really bad for example. A very common question about the word is; how can I use it? The word covers a lot of emotions such as, joy, anger, fear or surpise. When you are sitting on one of the hundreds of terraces in Paris and you drop your croissant you may say “putain”. But… don’t use it in your company or when you are accompanied by your parents in law. And then the most important thing about it, don’t use the word before you really understand it.

Luca Janssen


Un putain de mot

Why is it impossible to have a five-minute conversation with a Parisien without hearing the word “Putain” one or two times (and sometimes more)? The meaning of the word is ‘prostitute’, which might seem rude to foreigners. Though to Parisiens, it doesn’t have a meaning anymore. The interjection “Putain” refers to nothing or no one. Instead, “Putain” refers to a feeling. It could express discontentment, like when you’re stuck in traffic. When you’re surprised, Putain seems to cover te load too. But not only that. You’ll hear the word “Putain” when Parisiens express encouragement, emphasis or admiration. 

Parisiens are very sophisticated people. With their black clothes, knowledge of what expo is in town and their “petit cafés” they emphasize that. Being happy and excited doesn’t fit that image. It’s just too open. Therefore, if you wish to fit in, you must be angry and agitated about most events in life. The swearing about it all is a must. 

Although the word “Putain” is used for everything, by everyone, there are certain places where you shouldn’t let it slip. It could be compared to the word “fuck(ing)” in the English language. For instance, when you’re at work it might be good to just think it but not say it oud loud. It’s not a very professional look in front of your boss or a client. You might do good to do the same in front of old ladies or young children. So even though it’s a strong word with a soft meaning, it could start quite a painful situation if used wrongly. 

Still, the word “Putain” is even heard walking past a Parisienne (with perfectly styled hair, nails and make-up, the latest Céline bag, all black clothes in size 34 and a sophisticated cigarette in her mouth), when a dove shits on the pamflet about the latest expo in Le Grand Palais she was reading, you’ll hear nothing but a big fat “ Puuuuuuutaaaaaaain”. And I think that sums it up.  

Useful tip: If you don’t know what to say, just say putain.

Sound like a Parisian: “Putain, il est déjà cinq heures?!”

Sara Ketelaar



What the f … is PMU ???
Reporting to you from the corner of rue du Jules Levere and Rue du Amsterdam, a bunch of men constantly gather outside. A sense of camaraderie hangs in the air as it is quite clear that these men know each other. I have often wondered about the commotion in the side walk and what exactly PMU City is. The door is always open and people always are speaking French  rapidly around the doors. Excitement hangs in the air. From my interview with my host brother, I have concluded that this is a horse gambling place. People (uniquely men) place unlimited bets and hope to get lucky enough to choose the right horse.
I often see the same men placing bets or smoking or drinking outside with their friends. It’s open during the day and often closes in the evening around dinner time.
Sydney Boyd


Dinner in Paris

Finding a place to live in Paris is not an easy job. Even if you have found an appartment, there’s always something wrong with it; sketchy neighborhood, no where near the centre, on the sixth floor with no elevator, loud neighbours or a rent that costs you an arm and a leg. When I finally found a room that seemed to have none of those problems AND two other Dutch girls living there, I knew I had struck gold.

The first days were great. After a long day of mixing up my best French and English and ending up with an awkward mix of both, we would sit down for a nice meal with the three of us and finally talk each others heads off in Dutch and discussing all the things that are too hard in other languages. Of course, we would mix up a little French dining culture into our own; apparently they have baguettes with every meal and cheese after. Being from a country that is well known for bread and cheese too, we had no trouble integrating that. We couldn’t stop saying to each other how happy we were with how everything had turned out.

But one day that all changed. While eating our cheeses and mixing our baguettes with the Dutch food we had prepared, jabbering on about our days, our tenant (who we don’t see very often) walks into the appartment. When she saw us, her eyes nearly popped out and she looked as if – as we say in Holland – she saw water burning. For a minute she couldn’t say anything.

„What’s wrong..?“ we finally asked her. „Is this… your dinner?!“ she asked in disbelief. This time it was our turn to act shocked. Obviously it was. It was six thirty already and we had a lot to do afterwards! Another minute passed by. Then it finally hit her. This really WAS our dinner. She couldn’t do anything but laugh. While walking away we heard her trying to make some Dutch g-noises and softly repeating to herself „six thirty…“ and then laughing again. We guessed that the French prefer a different time to eat.

Now, every time that we see our tenant she looks at us and start laughing. Often she asks us if we have already eaten, even when it’s four in the afternoon. We have tried to adapt to the French dinnertime but we couldn’t get past seven o’clock before our stomach’s were growling. There’s obviously no reason for us to complain; we have a dream appartment, a very nice and central neighborhood and an affordable rent. But a tenant who doesn’t burst out laughing every time you walk by is certainly something I will look out for next time.

Sara Ketelaar


The #ootd experience 

My roommates and I were enjoying a beautiful, typical Parisian day. We don’t have classes on Monday, so we dressed up and walked to Place Vendôme to run into famous people because of fashion week. A girl came up to us and asked us if she could take a video of us because she loved our outfits and she was doing a documentary of fashion week in Paris. So feeling very pretty, fashionable and Parisian we made our way to Trocadero. We took pictures there and admired the cat walk for the Yves Saint Laurent show with a delicious crepe.

After walking from the 16e arrondissement to the 9e we went to one of our favorite restaurants Pink Mamma. We were looking forward to this all day long since their food is to die for. At the end of our delicious meal, we decided to check out their speakeasy that we recently knew existed. We only knew you had to walk through a freezer and there would be a “No Entry” sign and that would be the entry, ironic, I know. So we ordered  some pretty, fashionable, Parisian drinks and practiced our french with our weightier: Teo. Teo is 24 and was fascinated by our country: Mexico. At the end of the night he came over to the table with shots of whiskey, he had one with us and told us it was on the house. To end this Parisian day, we decided to do something a little crazy and fun, and left my cellphone number in the adicione with a message that said: “If you ever want to drink tequila call us. Yours truly, the mexicans”.
Here’s my Parisian random and unforgettable adventure.

Nancy Haneine


Ratattack: The never-ending war

Nowadays, walking around Notre-Dam without seeing a rat sneaking out between the bushes is almost a miracle. What can be done about it?

There are many possible approaches. For instance, Geoffroy Boulard, the mayor of the 17th arrondissement in Paris, has come with an original idea: he created an interactive map where people can report in which exact point they have seen one of these rodents. The goal is to improve the effectiveness of the anti-rat campaigns that are usually organised. However, these campaigns are far from being enough: both families and businesses should develop healthier habits by reducing the dispose of waste and collaborating with the cleanness of public spaces.

As a flamant Parisian citizen, the only thing I wish is to see the annihilation of these little monsters. That is why I was really shocked when I read the words of Stéphane Bras, a pest control expert, in Le Parisian: “Eradication of rats is not desirable. They have a useful role! In the sewers, they destroy a large part of the waste. If they were not there, it would be up to us to do it and it would be expensive for the city”.

I couldn’t stop recalling Remy’s face in Ratatouilleand his exceptional talent concerning to food, which brought me to an interesting conclusion: as disgusting as they can be, they play an important role in our city: Paris wouldn’t be Paris without them!

Juan Pablo Romero




So many questions, so little time.


To foreigners, France is a little quirky. Their humours a bit dry, obeying the traffic lights is almost dangerous and riding through the traffic on a scooter is considered socially acceptable. But one thing I have trouble wrapping my head around, is the strings on the bottom of the bin bags.

When I asked a lady who works at my local Carrefour about this she told me, “it’s to help close the bag”. Then she voluntarily began miming how it works, affirming (maybe to herself) that they in fact do make sense.

“You wrap the string around the top and twist and then tie the bag.” I’ve tried with two hands, it’s a bit of a trick. With three it might work better. The string is flimsy, and often falls off and become rubbish itself… but usually at this point the bag is half shut.

Wouldn’t it be easier to take two corners of the bag and tie them together, eliminating the need for the string? After googling my concerns, I found I wasn’t alone.

Many foreigners traveling to France had the same question, and many came up short. Ahh France, you continue to puzzle the world.

But I guess that’s what make you different.

Alice Barker

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