Saturday, 4 October 2014

Quelle Horreur!

"I ate a croissant on the metro the other day," said my friend. From her tone of voice and her demeanour, you would have expected a crime more heinous - eating chocolate cake out of the bin, for example, or a lifelong vegan confessing to just having devoured a plate of offal. And because we were amongst non-French, our gasps of horror and cries of shock were mainly put on for the occasion.

But who hasn't been there? Had one of those days when you have to get across town in your lunchbreak, or go to an after-work gym class, and been absolutely starving and surrounded by shops selling delicious food, but had neither the location nor the time to eat it in? And so you end up, as my friend did, breaking off tiny morsels inside the paper back and conveying them surreptitiously to your mouth and hoping that your fellow-passengers' disapproval won't result in you being thrown off the train and possibly expelled from the country as well.

There are other activities, however, which seem to be far more socially acceptable in France than they are in the UK. Public displays of affection, for example, or clipping your fingernails on the bus.

My friends and I spent quite a long time discussing the whys and wherefores of these apparent contradictions and finally came to a clear conclusion. Eating pastries on the metro is not shocking because you might be spreading crumbs, leaving litter or annoying your fellow passengers with overly-loud chewing noises. It's just that by eating your snack on a crowded train, without even a table, a cup of coffee and some quality conversation to accompany it, is showing remarkable disrespect for the croissant. 


  1. Ha!! In Cornwall, England there is a similar distaste for Oggy's pasties - they aren't even made in Cornwall and the Cornish won't tolerate them being eaten, even if you are starving on a train!

  2. I don't think someone who doesn't live in Paris can fully appreciate this, In a big city full of stressed people late to work and running over little old ladies, jerks, homeless people and mentally ill people (and teenagers) I rarely see someone eating on the metro. I see people smoking cigarettes and weed as much as I see someone eating (rarely). Even on the street if you are people will offer you a "bon appetit" mostly sarcastically and sometimes politely.