How some Parisians see their city - a different kind of map

Perhaps one of the things that I love the most about Paris is that I can enter the metro station in my rather sedate neighborhood (Chalalas), go for a short ride and pop up someplace else where the sights and sounds are completely different. If I feel like eating Japanese udon noodles I take line 8 to Opera, if I want to buy a colorful sari I take line 4 to Gare du Nord and if I need some obscure ingredient for a Chinese recipe I take line 7 to Porte d'Ivry.

So, when Joseph asked a question about the location of the Ganesha Festival last Sunday, I was reminded of the above map that shows how some Parisians see their city. It's a knock-off of the map of New York that was created by Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz for the December 10, 2001 cover of The New Yorker.

Starting at the top right and going in a clockwise direction, here are the translations:

Pauvres - poor people
Ploucs - hicks
Parents - parents
Reste du monde - rest of the world
Vieux - old people
Putes and touristes - hookers and tourists
Coupe-gorges - cut throats
Bobos (un bourgeois-bohème) - bourgeois bohemian
Rien - nothing
Chinois - Chinese
Appartements - apartments
Chalalas - pampered people
Touristes and Racailles - tourists and riff-raff
Personne n'y va - no one goes there
Fringues - togs or fashionably dressed (this is the only one that I'm not sure about because a literal translation is "clothes" but perhaps there's a different slang meaning for this word in Paris)
Touristes and Banlieusards - tourists and commuters
Pédés - gays
Touristes - tourists
Bourges - bourgeois

Interested in seeing the post that prompted Joseph's question? Click here.

Paris - it looks beautiful from the sky...
and from the ground! Enjoying the last day of August at the Place des Vosges.


  1. "No one goes there"--that makes me laugh. Would that be the 9th? I don't know anything in the 9th, do I? Hmmm.

    Cha-la-las--that's funny too. I love your 16th.

    And thanks for the link.

  2. Oh wait, I have been to the 9th, now that I've done some research, but I'm not there often anymore--only my first or second visit many years ago. Funny. I love the Opera and Printemps but I never get there anymore. Maybe I should next time.

  3. After reading your comment, I had to get out a map and see if I ever go to the 9th. I don't - at least not to the top of the 9th. I go to Opera, etc. at the bottom. But it's interesting how things are changing and less desirable locations are becoming hot properties. Look at what happened in the Marais.

    If it wasn't for the proximity to Stephane's office, I don't think that we would live in the 16th. Still, it's home -- and if the river wasn't in the way we would almost be in the 15th, so I'm not a Cha-la-las by any stretch of the imagination!

  4. Such a great blog! I'm headed to Paris in a few weeks, was hoping you might have a "best steak frites" or a post on alternatives to $1200 dinners...can't convince my husband that it's mandatory to dine at the Cinq. I also have a blog, but alas it is not about living in lives?

  5. polloplayer, I just looked at your blog and have a few questions - would I get to vacation in Hawaii and would someone else take care of the chickens? If so, tell me where I sign up to be a polloplayer! ;-)

    Sorry - I don't have a "best steak frites" post. I'm more about the frites than the steak anyway. My quest for the best ones is ongoing as I take my research very seriously. Maybe I'll have to try the ones at the Cinq! Do they have anything under $1200? Gasp!

  6. Since when do you buy 'colorful saris' ;) You'll have to wear one next time I'm in town!!

    I'll have to show this post to my Parisian friend, Arthur...he'll have one or two things to say about that map.

  7. Sara, You would be surprised at all of the things that I'm doing in Paris - writing a blog, tweeting, buying colorful saris...the list goes on and on! ;-)

    But seriously, after seeing all of the saris while we were at the Ganesha Festival last Sunday, I was planning to take you to Little India in December to look at them. We can get a mango lassi, too.

    I would be very interested to hear Arthur's thoughts on the map.

  8. Mary Kay -- couldn't stop laughing at the map! This upcoming trip of mine in December will be my third stay in "Rien"!

    Do you have a link to the New York map?

  9. Maddie, Glad you enjoyed the map. "Rien" must have something going on if you're going back for the third time! The 12th definitely has places worth visiting, like the Viaduc des Arts and the Promenade Plantee. You'll have to give me some other tips since I haven't really explored that area yet.

    Sorry, I couldn't find a direct link to the map of NYC but you can see it in Google images if you search "Saul Steinburg map New York".

  10. A little turned off by this post...My husband's Parents are from the Pauvres Area (which of course it is...but it's just harsh how it is represented in French they would never use Pauvres that is not politically correct). And we are in the Pedes Area yes it is true it is the Gay district but much more than that plus that word is very derogatory. Sad to hear people classify Paris in such a discriminating way...But some of it is true i.e. about the 16th and the "touristy areas" But how come the map so nice about those areas? There could have been more of a balance there.

  11. TN, First of all, I'm sorry if the post offended you, but thank you for commenting and expressing your thoughts. Not being from Paris, I was really curious to have an insider's opinion. You're right that some (most) of the terms are derogatory and could be considered offensive. But what's interesting to me is that people are usually ready to use stereotypes about other people but don't like it when it's done to them. I always try to avoid telling someone that I live in the 16th because I know that they will classify me (incorrectly) as "chalalas...and I'm really not. And as you already know, you're very lucky to live where you do because it's one of the best places in Paris!

    Thanks again for commenting!

  12. Thanks Mary Kay for understanding where I was coming from. I hope this post opens up some discussion on the subject Americans probably don't know that there are a lot of socioeconomic problems here in and around Paris as well as a lot of discrimination. Paris to many Americans is a beautiful and magical place but when you live here those fuzzy goggles start to clear up and you see the city for what it really is...a HUGE city with lots of problems (which is the same for all major cities LA, NYC, Tokyo, London etc...)

    Can't wait to read more of your blog...I'll add you to my reader :-) Have a good day

  13. I've seen a Paris map with the cost of sq footage per arr. that surprised me.
    Did you create this map or is it an object trouve MK?

  14. TN, Thanks for your comment about the fuzzy googles. After hearing about a temporary illness called "Paris Syndrome" that impacts people who visit Paris and are so disappointed when their fantasized version of the city doesn't match the reality of it that they become temporarily ill, I've started writing some posts that show the less-than beautiful side of Paris. You're right that there are problems. Please keep commenting, your insights are truly appreciated!

    parisbreakfasts - I would like to see the map that you mentioned. I think that the most expensive property per sq. meter is currently in the 7th. The map is an objet trouve - there's no way that I could have come up with it or would want to take credit for it! I've seen it on a few different websites but haven't ever seen the name of the person who created it.

    Thanks for the correction re: Saul Steinberg and Maira Kalman. I'll change that immediately!

  15. Here's what Sara's friend, Arthur (who is a Parisian) said about the map:

    I say the 'plouc' thing really offends me. Other than that, yeah, it's not the most subtle... but it's good to first-order :-) just FYI, bobos extend WAY beyond the bobo zone, 'Rien' is unfair for the 12th, and the fifth would be 'pretentious intellectuals [like me] - AND tourists'."

    in answer to do you have a good translation for Fringues??

    "haha, well not really... it's just colloquial for clothes ! It's not really pejorative or anything... it's just... clothes."

  16. Shouldn't you have given the real translation of pédés?

  17. When I first saw this map, it cracked me up. Having grown up in Chelsea and lived in West Hollywood, it's no surprise that I now live in the Marais. I feel at home!

    FYI... a lot of the boys in the hood found the derogatory name used on the map to be funny and took it with a grain of salt. I asked quite a few out of curiosity.

    I'm glad that you didn't give the real translation. : )


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