Stuff Parisians Like – the hilarious Paris blog turned international best-seller – by Olivier Magny of O Chateau

The word “décalé”

All French people agree that Parisians are not normal people.

Provinciaux deem that Parisians are below normal.

Parisians on the other hand know full well that they navigate far beyond the norm.

Such a striking opposition lies in the very definition each have of “the norm”. While outside Paris, the norm has to do with a set of values and behaviors, in Paris, it has to do with the populace: Parisians don’t see the concept, they see the numbers.

No matter how sorry the lifestyle of the Paris people may be, most will develop advanced reality-dodging strategies to convince themselves that they are not a part of the populace (“C’est tout petit mais le séjour est super lumineux“, “Le quartier est génial. Bon, faut pas rentrer seule le soir bien sûr, mais sinon c’est top”…)

The ultimate destination of their dodging artifices is to be found in the realm of culture. Thankfully for Parisians, while there is no such thing as a pseudo lifestyle, there is no shortage of pseudo-culture for Parisians to hope to harness their above-the-normness to. So Parisians tap endlessly into this fantastic source of easy differentiation. Conveniently enough, the more petty, the more superficial the artifice, the more differentiating.

But a city of impoverished wannabes gets the cultural and intellectual life it deserves: that of followers. The city of avant-garde, cultural boldness and creative brilliance is now populated by a militia of unsuspecting but zealous agents of cultural destruction. While Parisians no longer have the talent or the guts to truly think, act and invent accordingly, they have gained much comfort, even pride, in the thought of continuing, of adapting, of imitating. They don’t rebel, revolt or revolutionize, they reinterpret. What makes the norm is never questioned, instead, the dominant way of acting and thinking is always accepted as irremediably evident and thus only marginally adapted, harmlessly amended.

The adjective that epitomizes this evolution the most is “décalé“. Coolness in Paris lies in being off-beat. Everything can be décalé: a decor, a meal, a personality, a look, an idea, etc. Visitors ought to be cautious not to be push it however: being off-beat is utterly cool in Paris but questioning the beat shall be judged as extremism (or, if you’re white, as racism, even if the topic tackled has nothing to do with races).

All the freedom, identity and intelligence Parisians need lie in that tiny space between the norm and the “décalé“.

Parisians whom, as most Western urbanites, view themselves as educated, are oblivious to their staggering adoption and strict observance of this new norm: they are free and having fun.

Provinciaux are right: having turned into such unsuspecting tools, most Parisians are indeed far below the street smart common sense levels of normal people. Parisians on the other hand are not, as they like to believe, above the norm. They are merely the first victims and yet the relentless advocates of that new insidious and gooey norm they furtively carry.

The population of this brave new city sets an example that should pervade – normalize if you will – the rest of France and soon enough turn into the brave new country it ought to be: fully in-line and fully décalé, that is.

Sound like a Parisian: “Non, le truc était hyper décalé, vraiment, excellent!”

Useful tip: Impress your French friend by translating “let’s go” by “on décale”. (Neat argot for you!!)

Relationships

For visitors, Paris is the City of Love.

For Parisians, it is the City of Relationships. Every Parisian is in a relationship. That relationship is more or less official, more or less successful, but it always is. Consequently, there is simply no singles scene in Paris. If sexual tension is what makes a city fun, Paris has officially become the most boring city in the world.

All young Parisians are in relationships. For them, the main reason to be in a relationship is simply not to be single. Most young Parisians are averse to life: they see most things as threats, most risks as primarily dangerous, most singular paths as awfully unsafe. Danger for them is around every corner. They view relationships are round little things with no threatening corners; the threats of a relationship they feel they master and choose—this feeling is a reassuring one. Therefore their relationships are long-lasting ones. Not quite good enough to get married, not quite bad enough to break up.

Being single after the age of twenty-six is the clear indication of a troubled mind. If not a troublemaker, that person has got to be a trouble seeker. While the English language has the good taste of distinguishing “alone” from “lonely,” French only offers seul. Not being in a relationship means being seul. The threatening shadows of loneliness, only darkened by the local inexistence of celibacy.

Most surrounding elements create the perfect scenario for a life of romantic dissatisfaction: absence of a singles scene leads to sticking with the wrong person, which itself leads to many a frustration, which inevitably—in a nonreligious city—leads to divorces and breakups a few years down the road. Older Parisian men who still have a form of moral and religious grounding do nonetheless stick with their spouses (unless it is the other way around). They like to flirt and compliment beautiful women—which usually amuses the French and shocks foreigners. That charming France—sadly—is vanishing.

Courting is no longer a Parisian habit. The only way Parisian men like to play it is safe. Parisian women on the other hand, caught in the double obligation to be neither sluts nor single, become undesirable. Absence of flirtation becomes the norm after the age of twenty-six.

Curtains closed.

The dry local environment inhibits natures and ambitions. Ironically enough, as Parisians are more and more in relationships, they become less and less likable. Which, needless to say, makes them stick to their relationships even more.

 

 

Stuff Parisians Like Useful tip: If you have a vague fantasy about Parisians, rest assured, the few that do not follow the pattern explained above usually end up with foreigners. Those are the wise ones.

Sound like a Parisian: “Ils sont ensemble depuis cinq ans. . . . Ouais, ça se passe bien je crois. . . . Non, ils sont pas mariés, non non.”

Want more? Get the full story here…

Coming to Paris soon? Make sure to put O Chateau on your list. Join us for a wine tasting, a nice glass of wine or simply to meet the author of this silly text. It’ll be a pleasure to have you.

Expats

When it comes to professional life, Parisians find themselves in a catch-22. They want the seriousness that makes a real job. And the sense of adventure that makes a real life.

Needless to say, such positions are hard to obtain.

“Real job” for Parisians implies either a corporate job or working for a prestigious institution. All other jobs are not serious. “Real life” implies the possibility of waking up to the ocean on the weekend and exposure to other cultures, while of course enjoying an eminently comfortable lifestyle.

Given these parameters, it will come as no surprise that Parisians love expats. Being an expat brings the best of both worlds: a good, well-paid position in a foreign yet cozy environment. Bingo!

Parisians would all like at some point in their career to be sent overseas on an expat contract. Since these days—as Parisians like to complain—”ils ne font plus de contrats d’expat”, many Parisians are given opportunities overseas on a “contrat local“. This option is acceptable for Parisians under thirty-five and for destinations where salaries are significant. If these two conditions are not met, chances are the Parisian is more into real job than real real life. Expat contracts having become scarce, those who obtain them tend to be on the efficient side and are therefore probably more into real jobs.

While Parisians look up to their fellow Parisians who go exploring on a mission, they do enjoy the possibility to socialize with foreign expats. Having an expat friends displays fantastic “ouverture internationale” and implies that the Parisian is both a gracious host and possibly a polyglot. Talking about his expat friend, the Parisian will always mention his nationality: “Tu sais, Mark, mon copain expat canadien.” He will also make mention of the quality of his position: “Il a un très gros poste chez Microsoftun type assez brillant vraiment.” The Parisian will always compliment his expat friend publicly on his French: “Non, vraiment, il parle très bien. Non, c’est vrai Mark, tu as fait de gros progrès.” The Parisian doesn’t think Mark’s French is any good but he likes to come across as the benevolent paternalist mentor.

Having an expat friend is about adding glow to the Parisian’s life. Not all countries come with the same glamorous touch. Having an American expat friend is the ultimate luxury, then comes South American, then other Anglo countries, then Italy. Having expat friends from any other country will only be acceptable in left-wing circles for whom the betrayal of having friends in the corporate world (losers) will be compensated by the unlikeliness of their country of origin.

Expats arriving in Paris are usually very keen to make Parisian friends and to work on their French. Soon enough, they give up on French and, not long after, on Parisians. Those who love the city enough end up re-creating a Parisian life with compatriots, other international folks and Parisians who have lived abroad long enough. Those who don’t just leave—disenchanted.

For Parisians with social ambitions, the proportion of expats and foreigners at the events they organize is the safest way not only to attract what they deem to be Parisians of quality but also to place themselves on a nice international pedestal—with both their expat and Parisian friends.

Interestingly enough, in Paris, the quality of a social circle will be judged predominantly on the proportion of its internationals. The higher the proportion, the more desirable the circle.

Having many international friends helps Parisians overcome their catch-22. They keep their serious job, while getting a taste of adventure through their international friends. Between real job and real life, Parisians choose not to choose: they opt for real Parisian life.

 

Stuff Parisians Like

Sound like a Parisian: “Je peux venir avec mon copain expat? Tu sais, l’Américain, de Boston . . . tu vas voir, il est très sympa.”

Want more? Get the full story here…

Coming to Paris soon? Make sure to put O Chateau on your list. Join us for a wine tasting, a nice glass of wine or simply to meet the author of this silly text. It’ll be a pleasure to have you.

La Bretagne

Some places don’t want to give themselves away. Their beauty lies in a cocoon, protected against the aggressions of the many. Some places remain shy despite their splendor. More aware of their flaws than of their qualities. Some places impose greatness in sobriety, they play silent symphonies. Some places shape people more so than people could ever shape them.

La Bretagne is all this.

This region is a root, a flower, and a horizon. It is a castle and a breeze. It is the gray and the humble, the blue and the silent, the green and the painful. It inhabits its people. Its wind thickens the soul; its rain pervades hopes.

Easiness does not belong in Bretagne. Everything there comes at a price. Liking Bretagne is not about enjoying its beauty but about cherishing that price. This region of infinite humility can distinguish minds and souls as much as it can shatter them. Bretagne lovers are people of persistence. They are loyal to its defects to sometimes be privileged enough to enjoy its treasures. The immediateness of its rain fades away before the promise of its sun.

Parisians all fall for the superior beauty of the place. They all, too, fall for the idea of them loving Bretagne. Loving that gray and that rain, loving the cold and the unfriendly, loving the brutality of a character defined day after day by the unstoppable winds. Not all Parisians can take Bretagne. Unchained sunshines and insolent blues are reachable enough. They are easy enough. It takes a form of impermeability to the modern world to prefer the grays of Bretagne over them. Only poets can come back to Bretagne regularly, only they can cope with its superb attitude.

Most Parisians are deeply certain they love Bretagne. Yet very few go there repeatedly: “Attends, je bosse comme un dingue, je veux pas retrouver à passer un weekend sous la pluie, ah non, no way“. Rain it seems drenches even the most poetic of souls.

The gray skies of Bretagne let us contemplate that, observing this end of a land, one might also catch sight of the end of a world.

Useful tip: The coastline of Bretagne is regularly breathtaking. Explore.

Sound like a Parisian: “Ah non, la Bretagne c’est magnifique, j’aime trop. Par contre les Bretons, qu’est-ce qu’ils picolent!”

Want more? Get the full story here…

Coming to Paris soon? Make sure to put O Chateau on your list. Join us for a wine tasting, a nice glass of wine or simply to meet the author of this silly text. It’ll be a pleasure to have you.

 

Quelques photos…The new O Chateau wine bar

Notre nouveau bar à vins est une petite merveille. 300m2 dédiés au vin et à la dégustation. A votre disposition: 3 salons privatisables pour vos événements pro ou privés, 4 grands vins au verre chaque soir, plus de 500 références, des cours d’oenologie quotidiens, une chef talentueuse, de la bonne musique et bien d’autres choses encore. pour vous mettre en appétit, quelques photos…

 

 

 

 

Le salon:

La Vinothèque

La cave.

 

 

A très bientôt chez Ô Chateau

 

Ô Chateau
68, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau – 75001 Paris
Tel: 01 44 73 97 80
Métro: Louvre-Rivoli (line 1) or Etienne Marcel (line 4).

www.o-chateau.fr

It is beautiful, it is brand new and it just opened.

After 8 months of intense renovation, managed beautifully by my business partner Nicolas Paradis (big kudos to him), we are pleased to announce the opening of O Chateau’s new place. Our new 300m2 (3000+sq ft) space located in central Paris just 5 min from the Louvre is dedicated to wine, wine tasting & having a great time. Three tasting rooms and a really really exciting wine bar – all in the former hôtel particulier de la Marquise de Pompadour.

At the wine bar, we offer you daily nothing less than great 40 wines and Champagnes to try by the glass. Everyday, legendary names like Château Pétrus, Château d’Yquem,  Dom Pérignon or Krug by the glass. Old vintages, hard to get wines, single vineyards… we open them all for you at our “Bar à Grands Vins”. We also serve food: our Chef Tiffany Depardieu used to work at the Jules Verne and for pastry chef superstar Pierre Hermé. Those of you living in France might have seen her on M6 as she is a Top Chef contestant (still running…). So yup, great food, great wine, and – we like to believe so – really beautiful decor and also good music. Add friendly staff  and you’ll have a sense of the place we tried to create. Just a fun and beautiful place to come spend moments of quality with people you like.

Voilà – that’s the plan!!

Both Nicolas and I have worked like French people dogs to turn our little dream into a nice reality to share with everyone. Right now, we’re mostly sharing it with the banker so yeah, this shameless plug has no other ambition but to let everybody know that the new Ô Chateau wine bar is now open and that you should all come visit, tell your friends to come visit, tell them to tell their friends, Facebook it… As far as I’m concerned, I’ve tatooed our new address all over my back and I walk around Paris half naked.

We are open Monday through Saturday. From 2pm to midnight (2pm til 2am on Fri & Sat). We have free WiFi. Over 500 wines on our wine list. We serve wine & food all day and have a great evening menu for only 24€.  We can host private parties. We take reservations for groups of 6+ people only. Our wine classes in English and Champagne cruises & day trips are still happening and just as informative and fun as before. Look them up if you’re looking for something fun to do while in Paris.

It will be both Nicolas’ and my pleasure to see you soon at Ô Chateau.

Thank you for your continued support. Ô Chateau is such a phenomenal adventure – we are thrilled!!

Ô Chateau
68, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Paris 1st arrdt
Tel: 01 44 73 97 80
Métro: Louvre-Rivoli (line 1) or Etienne Marcel (line 4).

www.o-chateau.com

 

 

PS: Now you know why I haven’t been posting as frequently as I wished. But stay tuned: new fresh SPL articles coming your way soon. “Stuff Parisians Like”  – the book –  is being finalized these days with the publisher. Release date is July 5th. You can already pre-order the book at a discounted rate from Amazon. Gosh – what a year!!

Testosterone-deprived males

There are three types of males in Paris: the gay-looking homosexuals, the gay-looking heterosexuals, and men over fifty.

It is not easy being over fifty in Paris. Most men over fifty happen not to look gay, which screams that they are obviously one generation behind. They have no choice but to accept that situation for it is difficult to start looking gay after a few decades of looking straight.

Parisian males under fifty do not have such problems. They can happily look gay and have no one cast suspect that they are on the wrong side of the age hill. In Paris, gay men find themselves looking or acting gay and it is only fair. What is more surprising to the visitor is that the same pattern applies to the nongay Parisian male—who also finds himself looking and acting gay in most situations of life.

The first rule of a good Parisian male body is puniness. This objective is reached thanks to years of not exercising and not playing any sports at a competitive level. Add years of not drinking or eating in excess and the puniness grail can be reached. Check.

To cover their glorious bodies, Parisian males opt for clothes that rank somewhere between neutral and gay-looking. The beauty of a neutral piece of clothing on a puny body is that it immediately becomes gay-looking. Check. It is crucial to realize that, whether they choose to wear neutral or gay-looking clothes, heterosexual Parisian males do not have the intention to look gay. They look “bien, normal“.

Acting gay follows a similar pattern. While some homosexual males act gay for understandable reasons, visitors might be astonished at how gay heterosexual Parisian males usually act. Acting gay is to some extent a recent French habit, inherited from three decades of institutionalization of a cotton-candied, pacified vision of the world and of humans as a species. But once again, Parisians take this to the next level: when most French males outside Paris act gay on certain topics only, Parisians choose to go all the way. Gayness pervades every thought, every action. The concept of being “a real man” is vastly looked down upon for displaying far too obviously characteristics that relate to a lack of intelligence and refinement: concepts like strength, masculinity, physical power, and strong opinions or values are therefore very preoccupying in Paris. They are viewed as an open door to brutality. Parisians all agree that “Excuse-moi, mais un vrai mec, c’est pas des gros muscles, c’est d’abord quelqu’un qui peut prendre ses responsabilités tu vois“. May Parisians be fully reassured: we do voit.

At this point, one may feel compassion for the Parisian woman. Well, one should save his compassion for gay Parisian men. Gay Parisian men are probably the only people in Paris longing to see more testosterone around them. If anyone, they should be the subjects of one’s compassion. Parisian men are happy to think of themselves as beyond activities and behaviors that attest of a form of masculinity. As far as they’re concerned, Parisian women do not necessarily know any better. If their boyfriend looks gay, it is primarily because “c’est un mec hyper sympa, très fin, vraiment intelligent“. Parisian women have grown so wise that they have overcome their natural inclinations. Masculine works in magazines and in movies, but in reallife, it  is coarse and rough. End of the story. The idea that a male human could be masculine as well as being a refined person is not one la Parisienne is ready to embrace.

Indeed, examples of such phenomena in Paris are rare enough to assume that the rule of Paris is probably the rule of nature.

 

Stuff Parisians Like Useful tip: Do not be fooled: looking and acting gay does not equal being gay.

Sound like a Parisian:J’suis allé faire un peu de shopping: un p’tit t-shirt col V, des p’tites lunettes Kenzo et des espadrilles. Tranquille, quoi, pour l’été”…

Want more? Get the full story here…

Coming to Paris soon? Make sure to put O Chateau on your list. Join us for a wine tasting, a nice glass of wine or simply to meet the author of this silly text. It’ll be a pleasure to have you.

English Humor

Seen from Paris, England does not seem like a very likable country. Parisians like to recite the long list of afflictions the old nemesis seems to have: bad weather, alcoholism, ugliness, revolting food, hooliganism. . . . There seems to be no redemption.

However, there is one aspect of the English culture Parisians look up to. Oddly enough, it is not a phenomenon but instead an actual fringe of the English society: that is upper class English people.

Parisians thrive on the mythology of the “vieux lord anglais” and its escort of enchanting adverbs and manners. This mythology feeds a tiny but indisputable inferiority complex rooted in the prestigious mystique of England’s academic institutions. It is clear to all Parisians that England shapes its elite better than France does. The legend of Eton, Cambridge and Oxford is undoubtedly more vibrant in Paris than it could ever be in the UK.

Parisians all wish they could have English humor. They revere the inherent distinction, discreet wisdom and smiley distance that come in the English humor package; add the English true gourmandise in the choice of their words and a talent for measured eccentricity and you’ll find the Parisian irremediably charmed. In good English company, the world seems to be freed from triviality.

Though Parisians proclaim as often as they can their indefectible love for English humor, most can not deal too well with absurdity. As much as reality can be disturbing, Parisians have a hard time resolving themselves to let go of it for a second. This relationship to reality explains that characters like Benny Hill or Mr. Bean do not gather unanimous support in Paris.

On the topic of English humor, Parisians rarely refrain from using the adjective pince-sans-rire.  They are somehow jealous of that trait of English culture that allows its people to be intelligent and fun at the same time. They wished they too could juggle with humor and wit and be socially rewarded for it.

But it is too late. Paris has drenched the spark in most eyes. Humor is a mental exercise the city does not foster. Thus reinforcing Parisians’ in their vision that the gap between them and upper class English simply cannot be bridged. This vaguely depressing and resignated thought satisfies the Parisian.

So much for wanting to be humorous.

 

 

Stuff Parisians Like Useful tip: Anyone down to reintroduce humor in Paris?

Sound like a Parisian: « Oh Hugh Grant j’adore; le côté très british, élégant, très fin, pince-sans-rire: excellent!»

Want more? Get the full story here…

Coming to Paris soon? Make sure to put O Chateau on your list. Join us for a wine tasting, a nice glass of wine or simply to meet the author of this silly text. It’ll be a pleasure to have you.

 

Hating on waiters in Paris

Waiters in Paris

When it comes to service, Parisians all wished they lived in America. They all long for torrents of smiles, deluges of friendliness and avalanches of first names. But reality is stubborn.

They live in Paris.

And Paris is no America.

In France, torrents of smiles, deluges of friendliness and avalanches of first names do not mean good service. It means you’re surrounded with drunken people. And drunk people rarely wait tables. Parisians are quite categorical when it comes to waiters in Paris. They know for a fact that they are all “pas aimables”. Most of them are actually “des gros cons”.

That reality is non negotiable. Parisians will never accept for anyone to pay a compliment about Parisian waiters. Being able to b.itch about them is one of the rare things that connect Parisians to the rest of the world.

The Parisian never wonders about the causes of what he reckons to be poor service. He will systematically dodge the question by a “c’est pas de ma faute s’il a un job de merde”. Usually adding “y a 3 millions de chômeurs. S’il est pas content, qu’il fasse un autre boulot, putain”. Parisians are people of compassion. They will never put their own rudeness and absence of smiles in question. Neither will they ever include tipping in the beautiful scale of their transatlantic comparisons.

In Paris, clients and waiters don’t think much of each other. In an admirable whirlwind of reciprocal passive aggression, tensions add up and poor service usually ensues.

For that matter, when one day, for some peculiar reason, the Parisian or the waiter happens to be in a good mood, the interaction feels like a fresh breeze in the desert, a lightning bolt of conviviality. The waiter will immediately be qualified as “hyper sympa”. The Parisian will enjoy the moment immensely and ultimately pass on the address to all of his friends.

The idea to try to be more friendly in order to make happier moments less rare never crosses the Parisian’s mind: “C’est pas à moi d’être aimable, putain”.

Clearly, the Parisian is not ready for America.

Stuff Parisians Like

Useful tip: Parisian waiters like dirty jokes.

Sound like a Parisian: « Il est vraiment pas aimable, c’est dingue…»

Want more? Get the full story here…

Coming to Paris soon? Make sure to put O Chateau on your list. Join us for a wine tasting, a nice glass of wine or simply to meet the author of this silly text. It’ll be a pleasure to have you. And we promise, our waiters are actually nice and friendly!!

And the winner is…

So after weeks of cyber-brainstorming, we found a title for SPL in French:

Dessine-moi un Parisien will be released November 4.


Just wanted you guys to know first. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of those who have contributed in the search for a title. We finally made it – so merci à tous.

I really like this title – and truly hope you do too.

Olivier