Paltryville is surrounded by the Finite Forest which is described as dark and eerie. The town itself is not listed in any guidebook and the Baudelaire orphans instantly see why, when they arrive at the Paltryville station. Firstly the train only stops once a day in Paltryville. There are a few shops on its one street but none of them have any windows; and instead of a flag flying from the post office's flagpole, there is a shoe dangling from it. Opposite the post office is the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, and its sign is written in rough and slimy letters made out of chewed-up gum. Instead of there being trees along the sidewalk there are towering stacks of old newspapers.
Surprisingly for such a small town, Paltryville apparently has its own constitution. It also contains Dr. Orwell's Opticians, an optometry practice which is built in the same shape as the tattoo on Count Olaf's left ankle.
Paltryville was a participant in the It Takes a Village to Raise a Child Program as revealed to the Baudelaires by Mr. Poe. When given the chance to choose their next home, they decided against going to Paltryville as they remembered the horrible experience they had there.