First of all I have to say I am not easy to learn to know myself so if the French sometimes have strange ways of doing things I am not without blame to not have a collective of new friends and drinking buddies in Paris – or shall I say not a lot of new friends that’s actually French.
I also want to say that all the blog posts on France and French people are written with love cause I love this country and the people living here but still there are cultural things I don’t understand or think is very strange from my Swedish point of view.
One of my problems when it comes to learning French is that I don’t use French since I work in English and most of the people I hang out with is expats not speaking French or even need to learn it cause they are here for a year or less. But still, learning to know the French is not an easy task.
I also need to point out that when I write “French” here it’s actually more about the Parisians not French all over the country.
First of all age. When you turn 50+ you more or less have built up your circle of friends if you stay in one place you kind of not in need of any new people to add to the crowd and mess up the hierarchy it took years to built up. You know who’s the funny one, the organizer and the one to turn to when you need to talk. All this always change when a new person is introduced to the gang so to find new friends after 35 years of age is not easy in any country or whoever you are. Same in Paris.
The Parisians complete lack of curiosity. In a bar, café, restaurant or wherever and all over the world people hear you not from their country you can count on the fact that they will at some point ask you where you from… It won’t happen in Paris, you can sit next to a couple or a few friends knowing they listen to you when you order a drink or maybe speak with someone but even if their eyes tells you they try to figure it out no questions and very fast not even care. Some people say it’s based on the fact that French don’t speak English, which in Paris is completely wrong. They do, more or less but they do. In other areas of France like Nantes, Montpellier or Reims less people speak French but still, all native French under 50 knows enough to be able to commnicate.
I think it’s more based on what said above, the age thing, we don’t need new people in the circle of trust. And I accept and understand that what I don’t get is the few you actually connect with and the way they maintain the friendship.
I have made some pure bred acquaintances and really enjoy meeting them and it works well but it’s a 100% one way communication. None say no to meet, none say no to visit, none say no to doing things as long as I am the organizer or the take contact or suggest to meet. So far no one have said, come on hang out with me or with me or my friends… You like to go to the X museum this weekend? I noticed that X have a concert, you like to go? Eurovision is on tonight can we watch it together?
It’s nothing if you don’t take the first step. So my Swedish way, being the one keeping the communication going for a while and then stop to see if the other part actually keep in touch don’t work. If not keep on pushing the communication fades. And again, none of them say no when you ask them so it can’t be that you are the worst person ever to hang out with.
Also note that for the first meeting it is the French person who push more, but never from that point forward. This fact actually makes me wonder whats up? Bringing it to the table with a Frenchman the answer was that Parisians are so self centered that they want to be contacted to boost their egos, they rather sit home alone than not be the one being contacted. The same person is one of the once never asking me to hang out by contacting me with some own ideas of things to do.
So again it’s not easy to make friends in Paris. And I will come back to this at a later stage on the blog. So see this as an introduction.