Lisa in Paris

Is there anyone who hasn’t seen Netflix’s Emily in Paris? I put off watching it because I was sure it would be cloying and riddled with clichés—the Paris of Instagram where girls in puffy skirts skip in front of carousels, often carrying shopping bags from luxury stores. You know, like this?

Oh, parislove87, you’re adorable, but no one does this in Paris, no matter how much we love it. In fact, no one dresses like this either. But we’ll get to that.

And as I expected, there was a lot of this in Emily in Paris. But, for all the cringe-worthy inaccuracies, even this jaded expat found a lot of similarities. So much so, that I started to think the writers had been stalking me. Here are some of the things Emily and I have both done, as well as some of the blaring faux pas in the series, and how to fix them.

Where ‘Emily in Paris’ Got it Right

Let’s start with the biggest thing we have in common, the one that made a few dozen of you message me with: “I thought of you when I saw this!”


If you live in Paris, you’ve had them. And, oh boy, did I have mine. My plumbing problem—a massive leak the apartment owner above refused to fix, is practically a character in my book, My (Part-Time) Paris Life. I laughed out loud at this plumber scene, all too painfully realistic. You can follow my leak saga, here. And here are some highlights from my plumbing problems, which make Emily’s look like a vacation.

This isn’t even the half of it, kids. It got much worse and encompassed the entire front half of my apartment. Water sheeted under my new parquet, forcing me to replace it, and with it, the kitchen unit which had to be torn out. We had to scrape the walls down to dry out the place. It took two years of a court battle to force the man to repair the leak, and cost me 50,000 euros. He paid, don’t worry.

And because the universe has a sick sense of humor, just after my place was re-renovated, my toilet leaked. Ah, Paris. By the way, my plumber’s name is Juan. You can see him in a video in this post, here.


Emily’s and I have been to a lot of the same places. Here are some of them:

This spot in the 5th, where Emily lives in the series, really does exist, and really is that charming. I was there, a few years ago, wandering around with a friend. Here’s my photo, below:

©Lisa Anselmo

That same day, we ate lunch in the café where Emily liked to have her coffee and croissant with “preservatifs.”

And, below, what it looks like in real life (Google maps):

After lunch, I took this photo of stacked chairs beside a restaurant. It would become the place where Emily’s chef neighbor works. It’s actually an Italian restaurant called La Terra Nera.

©Lisa Anselmo

On Emily’s date with the rude boy (another thing we’ve had in common), she strolls along the quay of the Bassin de l’Arsenal near the Bastille. This was a set, but there used to be a great café near this spot, which has sadly been closed for two years.

Here’s the café in Google maps (you can see it perched above the same steps that appear in the shot above). I loved to sit here for hours.

And here is my view from one of the tables, which is on my Instagram:

©Lisa Anselmo

And because Emily can’t copy me enough, she also went to this charming boutique hotel tucked away in Montmartre, Hôtel Particulier Montmartre. Here she is in a scene from the series:

I had a drink here with a friend a few years ago. Here’s proof from my Instagram:

©Lisa Anselmo

Oh, and they have chickens.

©Lisa Anselmo

I used to have lunch at this place, below, every time I visited my friend, contralto Elisabeth Jane Wheeler, who lived for many years around the corner. It’s in the 10th arrondissement, near Canal Saint-Martin. Much like Sex and the City spoiled New York locals-only places, so seems the fate of these places, thanks to Emily. I’m probably not helping matters with this post, so I think I’ll stop here.

Ok, one more. Emily and Lisa in the Palais Royale.

Where ‘Emily in Paris’ Got it Wrong

Here are some things Emily and I (and anyone who really lives in Paris) do not have in common.

No one walks around Paris cobblestones in high heels. No one. Chic Parisiennes wear Stan Smiths—yes, sneakers. In fact, Parisians dress very conservatively, and minimally. It’s about blending in, not standing out. The only time you see someone like this is during Fashion Week, and they are from New York, London, or Tokyo.

And while we’re on the subject of fashion, just say “No, no, Nanette” to all this: the beret, the way-too-much leg, the heels (again). Emily, sweetie, you gotta learn to acclimate a tad. Add opaque tights and chunky Doc Martins to look like a young Parisienne. (And lose the beret and perfect hair. Dead giveaway.)

This scene below made me very uncomfortable. Why? Let’s discuss.

Paris is a big, gritty city that, sorry to say, isn’t super safe. Street crime is high. And the fellas can sometimes be aggressive in their advances. As with any big city, you need to be savvy. Emily’s bag placed unguarded at the end of the bench? I kept waiting for someone to snag it. Because that’s what would happen. And Mindy, honey, put some clothes on. The sex workers on Boulevard de la Villette are more discrete than you. I truly cringed for her. Baring so much skin, and toting giant designer bags is vulgar to Parisians, where subtlety is an art form. (Did love Emily’s dress, though.)

This made me giggle. Six euros for these Bellevue roses? Maybe in 1960. Paris is an expensive city, and these babies would cost you more than 4X that. (And by the way, takeaway cup? Never see this. You can’t even get them from most places. Parisians take their coffee in a café, at the bar if in a hurry.)

Still, faux pas and all, I didn’t hate Emily in Paris. Let’s face it, I was Emily once—before the hard realities set in. Paris—strokes, slaps, and all—is still a wonderful place to be. Just avert your gaze from men peeing in public.

Check out my article on Emily in Paris in Medium.

Watch this parody video, Emily in the Real Paris, which sums up what the French thought of the series.

Read about Lisa’s life in Paris. E-book and audiobook available. 4.5 stars on Amazon. Buy your copy, here.

Images of Emily in Paris courtesy of Netflix. All others, unless indicated, are ©Lisa Anselmo. Reproduction without attribution is strictly prohibited.

10 responses to “Lisa in Paris

  1. Lisa, I absolutely cringed and hate-watched “Emily”. I was surprised and dismayed that Darren Star, who captured the nuances in female friendships and daily life -albeit an all-white, unrealistic version of NYC with SATC, failed so miserably here. Nothing about this series captured anything more (mostly, as you note) than a tween’s romantic, stereotypical notion of this gritty, diverse, maddening, lovable, gorgeous, three-dimensional city. Like the NY depicted in SATC, no one actually dresses/loves/lives/strives the way Emily seems to. I look forward to this afternoon’s discussion.

  2. i assumed that they dressed Emily that way to keep her image of a duck out of water. Her personality fits the way she dresses. Even though young and vulnerable, she is her own person.

  3. Much of it is cringe-worthy but had to binge watch it right ? Lisa, as you noted, love seeing some places that one knows especially now that we (Americans) can’t get there. and the plumbing was by far the most real. Had a leak this year!


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