Emily in Paris: A Truthful Depiction of Life in the French Capital?

The latest Netflix series on everyone’s lips is Emily in Paris – a rose-tinted depiction of an American girl’s new life in the French capital that has divided viewers and critics on both sides of the pond. 

Unapologetically ticking off every French stereotype in the book, it’s no surprise that many critics have claimed that the series gives an unrealistic idea of what it’s actually like to live in the French capital, and also highlighted certain stereotypes that weren’t quite fair. 

So, which parts of the series give an unrealistic perception of living in Paris and which parts hold an element of truth? We worked with the team at France Property Guides to de-bunk the stereotypes and assess whether we can all expect to live the same Parisian life as Emily.

Her work colleagues

In the first half of the series, we meet Emily’s work colleagues, Sylvie, Luc and Julien who take an instant dislike to Emily, even mocking her with a derogatory nickname. Whilst she certainly doesn’t make the best first impression, this all seems very unreasonable. The French are certainly well known for their direct approach, but their ruthless treatment in the first few episodes takes the concept a little too far.

This, however, develops into a subplot that’s a little closer to the truth. Once Luc and Julien get to know Emily, they prove themselves to be loyal colleagues who say it like it is, without pretence or fakery – the kind of friends that anyone would be happy to have in a strange new city.

Her love interests

In contrast to the hatred from her work colleagues, every man that Emily comes across seems to fall for her instantly. Young and old, rich and poor, the men appear in droves. From Gabriel in the flat below to the professor at the fancy restaurant, to the wealthy investor at her marketing firm, they throw themselves at her from every direction. 

Again, it could be said that this is an extremely exaggerated version of the truth. While the French are, perhaps, more outward in their flirtations than the reserved British, this certainly gives an inaccurate impression of how easy it is to find love in Paris!

The language barrier

Emily brazenly turns up in Paris and starts a new job without speaking a word of French. Her French vocabulary is bad, and her pronunciation is worse, which is met with disapproval from her French acquaintances. This is an element of the show that does reflect the truth, to an extent – you don’t have to be word perfect, but it’s certainly advisable to brush up on your French before moving to Paris. However, don’t expect two French people to speak English to each other in your presence – this seems to happen a lot when Emily’s around!

Her lifestyle and apartment

Could you make a living in France and live like Emily? There’s been a lot of talk about whether Emily would actually be able to afford her Parisian lifestyle on her marketing executive salary. Not only does she have a nice apartment in a great location, but she’s wearing a different lavish outfit every day and is often seen carrying designer bags, eating at fancy restaurants, and drinking champagne. 

While it does all seem a bit too extravagant for someone in her twenties who’s climbing the career ladder, people might be surprised by the real price of moving to Paris at the moment. It’s certainly not cheap, but we are finding that a lot of locals are leaving the city for the suburbs or countryside due to the shift towards home working. 

As a result, capital cities are gradually becoming more affordable to buy in because there’s less demand. This could well lead to a resurgence of young creatives, such as Emily and her chic friend Camille, moving in. Paris also has the 2024 Olympics coming up and we could see a London-2012 type renaissance for the city over the next 3 years. It’s certainly a good time to buy your dream Parisian bolthole. 

So, if you are thinking of having your own ‘Emily in Paris’ moment, now could be the right time to look for your very own Parisian property! Just make sure to brush up on your French and take the stereotypes with a very large pinch of salt…

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.