Moderation

If qualities were diseases, moderation would be the Parisian plague.

In Paris, no London style, no Vegas drunks, no Rio bodies.

Parisians prefer to the thrill of the full-on ride the comfort of the grey cocoon.

Excess is vulgar. So they shall not indulge. They shall not even give it a try. Admittedly, there is no need to give things a try when you know about them already.

Parisians never go all the way. Parisians never order that second bottle of wine. How crass. They seem to find more contentment in witnessing things than in living them. They somewhat cherish that distance. Distance is a Parisian’s best friend. A buffer between him and life. A seat belt between him and his own life. Excess is not safe. Parisians like it safe.

In Paris, the plague has gone rampant. Moderation that once was a vague companion has become the inspiration of every decision. From the smallest one to the most decisive. A whole life governed by fear. A whole life of resolute blending in. A life dedicated to not making waves.

 

One may think that moderation is a form of preservation of an existing happiness. That is not true in Paris – simply as no Parisian would ever present himself (let alone think of himself) as happy. The Parisian just preserves whatever it is he has. Even if he’s far from satisfied with it. Parisians never put themselves out there. They never aim high. Never go for the big prize. They are careful. Dreadfully careful. Excess implies forgetting about oneself for a second. There is in excess a true form of generosity. A willingness to let go and connect with others. There laid the foundations of the late Joie de Vivre.

Parisians even lost sight that a whole world exists between moderation and excess. This world brings unknown and newness to the table. The Parisian is very happy not to have to deal with these. He knows very well that outside moderation only exists things like outrage and emptiness. The Parisian is too wise. Deal with it.

When it comes to fun, true fun in Paris is necessarily associated with excess. And therefore carefully dodged. True fun is ultimately outrageous and empty. There is no point in having real fun. Soft fun is good enough. At least it’s safe.

 

The same pathological approach to reality has contaminated all fields of Parisian society. From politics to arts, from conversations to looks: moderation has taken over minds, souls and closets.

 

Paris has become a tepid city full of tepid people.

Useful tip: Resist
Sound like a Parisian: “Bon allez, je vais rentrer, je suis crevé en ce moment. C’était cool, on devrait se refaire ça un de ces jours…”

43 replies
  1. ron pruett
    ron pruett says:

    With an attitude like that, no wonder we rarely see serious French contenders at Wimbledon or even the French Open. Hard to believe that tennis originated in France?! Safe?!

  2. preppyplayer
    preppyplayer says:

    Wait! I do think that fashion is far more forward in Paris and less “safe.”
    It’s not colorful Miami or Rio, for sure.
    And, people still smoke in Paris, a lot.
    That’s pretty risky.
    I’m just saying.

  3. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Carmelo… Legendary I’m not sure (your nickname on the other hand…). But thanks!
    Ron… Well, that’s an unexpected comment!! Hmm… We do have a good generation going on right now though! Les nouveaux mousquetaires! So watchout for the Frenchies. They shall strike back!
    PreppyPlayer… Do you? It’s just more Parisian I reckon. But not sure it’s that excentric or personal. As far as smoking goes, its much less true than it used to be. For the younger generation, only girls smoke actually. But still, I don’t think smoking has much to do with excess. Au contraire!
    Russ… Thank you for this. You touched me on this one. I do have a special rule never to talk about myself on this blog, but I guess it leaks out sometimes. Not sure about mad. But certainly a bit sad. But pay no attention to me – i’ll be fine. Thank you for noticing though. It’s really heart-warming to know that there are some sensitive and attentive people reading this little blog of mine. On an unrelated note, this post might seem somewhat dark but I believe it is pretty accurate. I probably just missed the little extra energy to redeem ironically a gloomy reality. What can I say?! Busted!! I’ll work on this for the next post!! Cheers – O.

  4. David
    David says:

    OMG, I think you have pinpointed exactly why I could never be friend with a Parisian…
    I always thought it was the snobbery, the stress that constantly surrounds them, the aggressiveness….

    No…
    It was just that…

    Thanks Olivier, you finally showed me the light. (not that it will change anything to my life, as after 4 years in Paris, I still have to make my first Parisian friend (and as I’m not trying anymore, as Paris is full of fun non-Parisian French people and foreigners)).

  5. David
    David says:

    Oh, the irony…
    I just typed my previous comment, and what message did I get?

    “Your comment is awaiting MODERATION.”

    No!!! Not you too… ;-)

  6. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    David… Thank you – Thank God for provinciaux and foreigners indeed. As per the ‘comment awaiting moderation’ thing, I’m innocent, I sware! I do my fair share to fight moderation on a daily basis!!
    Laurent… Well, maybe that could be a new post!!

  7. Ash
    Ash says:

    Just as Russ noticed, this post contains a little bit more melancholy than usual. I hope you’ll be well, and that you will post again with your ferocious irony soon !
    Of course, however gloomy, this posts hits the mark too… maybe a little too well :
    “Touché, monseigneur !” :-)

  8. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Ash… Merci. I’ll drink to that!
    Notyours… Not sure I got that!
    Barbra… Comme le dit le bon Seppi Landmann : “L’abus de modération est dangereux pour la santé”

  9. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    “Soft fun is good enough.” Too funny! So, Arielle Dombasle can be explained by the fact she was born in Connecticut? ;-)

  10. noelle
    noelle says:

    I was an assistante d’anglais for a year, and we got 3 choices where we wanted to be posted. My friends thought I was crazy that none of my choices was Paris, but I knew I’d have more fun and an easier time meeting people ailleurs. I still love Paris, but I had a wonderful year in Toulouse and had lots of crazy, non-moderate fun! :)

  11. Stephan
    Stephan says:

    ahhhh those good times when a parisian insurrection became the first revolutionnary autonomous government…

    See how it is hidden in history books, in Paris itself…

    Olivier, a good one again. I must say that now that I live in Belgium, I confirm how I am sometimes Parisian : moderated…
    But I also feel that you have had some dark experience recently with Parisians ????

    Stephan

  12. Accidental Parisian
    Accidental Parisian says:

    So, so true. No wonder I was so depressed when I moved here – you’re hit the nail on the head.

    Fortunately, you’ve already suggested the perfect antidote in a previous post, Olivier: FOREIGN GIRLS.

  13. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Stéphan… Lots of dust on these books for sure! As per Parisians, I try to stay away from them as much as possible!
    Accidental Parisian… Merci! And well, foreign girls… what else can I say but Thank God!

  14. Ruth Yunker
    Ruth Yunker says:

    I think it’s because it’s so dark and damp in the winter. That’s what I thought when I lived in Brussels when I was a teenager (and god was I pissed!).

    You sound like a bit of R & R would be good–come to Laguna Beach, CA. Here excess is just the way it is. Holistic excess is especially revered.

  15. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Barbara… Green card anyone?
    Frenchee Le Trip… You are most welcome. Et bienvenue!
    Ruth… What is R & R?

  16. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Ruth/Meg… Thank you! I could indeed probably use some of that… Thx for your consideration really!

  17. Mark
    Mark says:

    Wish I would have found this blog before my trip to Paris last year! Thanks for the info!

    Isn’t Vegas known for its prostitutes and broke men as much as its drunks?

  18. victoria rock
    victoria rock says:

    Barbara #20 response said “Come and live in California” The way you describe Parisians would exactly fit most Orange County Californians. No, not all of California knows how to have fun. I suspect there are many places in where people are conservative.

  19. John Agee Paris
    John Agee Paris says:

    Interesting observations, a bit anrgy, but interesting. As an American who lives in Paris, I see alot of truth in what you say, and I can also say it’s the expatriates who give the city its vibrancy. It’s unfortunate to say, but the Parisians simply provide the canvas upon which the rest of us paint.

  20. Billy
    Billy says:

    Aw. “Mais pourquoi tant de haine ?” This blog is the first of yours that doesn’t make me smile. No doubt you were quite upset when you published it (did you use a different font by coincidence only?).

    As a Parisian myself, I usually like your humourous entries a lot. Granted, ‘your’ Parisian probably lives in the 6th or 7th arrondissement — like many expats from English speaking countries who mix with them only — not in Barbès or rue d’Alésia, but well, this is the funny thing in your blogs precisely… usually

    Please come back to your usual lightness and ‘joie de vivre et de blogguer’! May I suggest a blog entry about ‘J’me sens un peu déprimé en ce moment’?

  21. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Victoria… Hmm, I do know Southern California a bit and the vibe I feel is quite different. Plus a big difference is that Parisians are by no means religious.
    John… Well, isn’t that good enough a reason to be a bit angry? I just wished Parisians woke up on day.
    Billy… Yeah, different font is a coincidence indeed! I’m not sure ‘my Parisian’ live in the 6th or in the 7th (provided the only people who live there are truly American expats, diplomats or tourists renting out apartments). I do my very best to find entries that apply to most Parisians, being myself – if not ‘most Parisian’ – at least ‘most Parisians’. Now, as per the gloomy vibe of this one… well, the clown was maybe a bit sad on that one, but the subject matter is just truly a downer for me. These people screw up my environment!! ;-) Most days, I just wanna take most Parisians and shake them up. Being very polite and considerate, I just wrote an angry text instead.

  22. Cate
    Cate says:

    I had not been back for 3 years, and had forgotten about the Parisian ways. Yet 3 years ago, these attitudes you describe didn’t bother me so much. They seems more extreme now.

    I think the French in general tend to be very moderate and conservative. I find I have to change my look and behavior here, as a woman who travels alone. I have to behave more like a French woman, or life is too difficult. In other words, if you want to dress and behave the way women do in London or New York you had certainly better not be on your own. Prim and proper is easier, if you don’t want to encounter coldness and disapproval. Blend in, as you say.

    I’m English, but I grew up in France, so this grumpy disapproval is nothing new to me. It’s just that I’m not 15 any more and it’s a bit silly.

    I had thought of moving back to Paris, but as beautiful as the city is, I find the social atmosphere somewhat stifling. Maybe it’s because my apartment is around the Invalides. The Quartier Latin might be less conservative.

    I’m so glad I found these blogs. They are so completely accurate, and very funny.

  23. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Cate… Thanks for your kind comment. Yeah, well, I fully agree with you. It’s a bit sad indeed. If I were president, I’d send all the French kids overseas for a year after le bac. I think it’d do them some good. But hey… I’m not!!

  24. Justina
    Justina says:

    Vous savez quoi … I can attest to the fact that Parisians are not the only people in this world that think they are above others ! Some days I simply cannot believe how rude and self absorbed most people are. Anyways, what I really wanted to add was that contrary to what many posted I found Parisians quite charming and very friendly. Par contre, les hommes peuvent etre un peu trop friendly … Il y a des limites tout de meme.

  25. Steph
    Steph says:

    Couldn’t agree more! Moderation in terms of emotions is a biggie. One mustn’t smile in Paris if one wants to be taken seriously! Oh, the horror!

  26. Mary
    Mary says:

    Moderation, eh? Now I’m a bit concerned about my upcoming visit to O’Chateau in two weeks. I’m from southern California and we don’t overuse our wine-stoppers. It flows heavily when it flows at all. Drinking wine on my patio near the ocean is a “let ‘er dance” kind of thing. As my friend Shelly reminds me, “What’s in a bottle of wine? Four glasses? What kind of insanity is it to stop there?”

    Yes, we laugh. Yes, we let go. Moderation? Not so much. If that is offensive to Parisiens and I assume it will be, I apologize in advance. But, we are a very stressful country as well and when we let go, we let GO. Never drink and drive, tho. I’ll give us that.

    Come to think of it, most Americans don’t practice moderation in much of anything. We work, drive, laugh, eat, drink, dance and worry to excess. Maybe I can learn how to slow that down while in Paris.

  27. daniella
    daniella says:

    Oh, I’m with Mary on this one! Being from Canada I laugh until it hurts, make fun with my friends, dance, drink and sometimes get a little crazy. However, as a Canadian, I always try to be polite so as to not disturb or offend another culture. We tend to tone ourselves down, even though it kills us inside because we just want to live and as happily as possible (well alot of us anyway)! Can Paris still be fun considering its culture? My apologies if that seems like an ignorant question, but having never been there, this is my best option to find out :) Thanks kindly.

  28. Cheryl S.
    Cheryl S. says:

    Brilliant but,sadly accurate post. I loved it!
    If a Parisian were to pull up roots and move to America, they would very quickly become liberated enough to be able to shed the cocoon. They would quickly become their authentic selves which, b.t.w., would be a happier, smiling self.

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