Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité is the motto of the French Republic and as such displayed on all our public buildings (city halls, schools etc…), of which there are many.
Parisians do go to work though. Try to travel on the Métro at rush hour, be it AM or PM, and you’ll get a very different impression of the city. Also, much as in America, a lot of people have been priced out and commute from the suburbs.
The reason you may not have seen many people however is the annual summer holiday — most folks will take either July or August off (yes, the whole month, not a paltry week or two like in the U.S.), lending the city an air of being somewhat abandoned. Smaller shops (mom and pop stores) also close for that long because shopkeepers need holidays too.
The French are epicures, bons vivants. Our enjoyment of life shows in the smallest things, like a perfect croissant or a bunch of flowers or a meal that lasts an entire afternoon just because people enjoy being together and eating good food.
In America, time is always money, individualism rules, and the food is… 👎 and often eaten alone, out of containers, without even sitting down!!! This is horrifying.
And there’s another thing: we are gluttons for culture and beauty, and Paris is living proof of this. Our PM is a writer, our president also wrote a book, a former publisher is Minister of Culture… There are TV shows about literature that people look forward to and watch with the same interest reserved to zombies and Lycra-clad superheros in America.
It’s an altogether different way of being in the world, a gentler, more equitable one than on this side of the Atlantic.
Because those three words you see on public buildings mean the Republic is committed to treating everyone the same, which is to say to leaving no one behind.