This has got to be the number one complaint of foreigners in Paris: la merde everywhere — on sidewalks, in the middle of streets, on doorsteps, even in métro stations (I have a truly disgusting photo of dog droppings in the Gare de Lyon, which I won’t post because it will forever ruin your appetite for brownies).
Interestingly, many of my French friends shrug when I bring up the subject. They, too, find it disgusting, but they are used to it; it’s no big deal. There are more important issues to rant about, like stagnant salaries and shrinking pouvoir d’achat (purchasing power).
There are, however, signs that things are improving in "Poo-ris," as my brother calls it. The city’s green-minded mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, has taken several steps to encourage citizens to pick up after their pups: he has put signposts everywhere to remind people to ramasser; created new parks and pea-gravel walkways all over the city; and has begun to fine people who pretend not to notice when their beloved bulldog drops several messy crottes on pavement. In the past six months, I have seen four people picking up after their dogs. This is a marked improvement from my first two-and-a-half years here, when I saw not one person doing their doggie duty.
So there is hope. A day may indeed come when I can look up at the city’s fabulous architecture whilst I stroll, instead of down at the ground in search of canine landmines, a beautiful, sweet-smelling day when the acrid scent of excrement will not permeate every impasse and cobblestone back street.
But until that day comes, I’ll keep my eyes on the ground.