Internet not working. Cell not working. Driver forgot to pick me up at the airport. Hair dryer stolen by a previous tenant, so bad hair. (Thank god I had the Brazilian Blowout before I left; it’s been a godsend). Reading instruction manuals for computers and appliances in French. Building access and lifts to learn. Shopping for groceries with French descriptions and photos, which are not always accurate as to what you’d think the product was. French speakers in this neighborhood are not as many as in more affluent districts. Frequently lost in the neighborhood … Paris Streets are not straight! But the apartment is great and the landlords are adorbs! Think most of the hassle is behind me, thankfully. Today, I WILL find the nearest Metro station and purchase a hairdryer on the landlords’ dime. Or should I say, the landlords’ euro.
04 Thursday Jul 2013
I found your blog by following a link on Trip Advisor and absolutely love it. Paris is my favorite city to visit and have never had the time or money to spend two months in a place. Interestingly, even though you seem to enjoy the things I don’t (French food, shopping, nightlife) and I enjoy things you don’t (love the ancient and medieval historical sights, art, architecture and feel absolutely comfortable finding my way around on the RER/Metro–which is not to say I find being on the Metro comfortable). Despite the differences in taste, however, we both seem to love the fantastic city and variety of interesting things it offers and I found your blog a very good read. It seems your biggest problems are the summer heat and your feet, and I can relate to both. The best time to me to visit Paris is in October–better weather and not as many tourists. I have no idea how far I walk in a day, even if I do use the Metro a lot, but I feel it in the feet and in the calves. Those Metro stairs are tough!
A couple cute little tidbits that I remember which have no relationship to tourist attractions are the crowd of school children (probably about 6-7 years old) we ran into in the gardens at Versailles. They were looking for Americans or Brits to practice their English. How are you? What is your name? What work do you do? The one who approached me asked, “How old are you?” I answered in French and English, “Je suis cinqante, I am 50.” His response cracked me up, “You are old. You are very old.” I thought it was cute.
In a grocery store I accidentally wandered into the pet food section, which was something I did not need, but was surprised to see canard and lapin (duck and rabbit, as you probably know) as flavors of cat food available. It sounded pretty gourmet, but the I realized that French people eat those things regularly and it only makes sense that the less desirable bits would be used for other purposes such as cat food.
I find French toilet paper acceptable now, but on my first visits, when I was in the Army stationed in Germany, and Paris was an easy trip for a long weekend, their paper was more like the brown paper towels you get from the dispenser ina public bathroom in America. Definitely not the most pleasant thing to use for its intended purpose. On going back to visit Paris years later (1999, I think), I advised one couple that was going with us that they may want to take some American toilet paper with them. They took a roll and left it on top of the toilet as they set out to explore on their first day. They came back to the hotel to find a roll of paper still there, but not theirs–it was gone and replace with another roll of the paper towel stuff.
Just some little things that made my Paris visits memorable in non-touristy ways. I hope you get back again and have better luck with your feet. I would love to read more about your adventures.
Thanks so much for the kinds words and for sharing, Larry. I, too, had French children “helping” me … with my painting, ha! They gave me all kinds of advice, out of which, I could only understand, “I think you should paint the statue.” I found it quite adorable. Two little boys came and drove toy trucks over my pastel sticks. Too funny.
I do absolutely love the architecture in the city, even made a pilgrimage to Hector Guimard’s neighborhood. And after the first three weeks, I felt very comfortable getting around on the Metro, though I never did quite feel comfortable on the RER or SNCF. They seemed much more confusing. Overall, I’d say I wasn’t a huge fan of French food. Too heavy for me. So I ate in mostly casual places and wrote about the ones where I had good meals. I skipped reviewing the ones where I did not. I don’t see the point of slamming little businesses that are just trying to stay afloat. Had to say, I enjoyed the French waiters far more than the food, because they told me about life in France and helped me with the language. I also loved the street food, though I often wished there were more benches nearby to sit and eat it. Walking around with a falafel is a messy proposition!!
My feet still have scars on them from all the blisters. At one point, I had 12 bandaids on them, plus they were wrapped with Ace bandages on top. I started naming the blisters after the districts in Paris. Yes, because I have a dark, demented sense of humor.
I didn’t notice a big difference in the TP, perhaps because I stayed in an apartment and could buy my own, 🙂
I do hope to return next spring. It will be May or June, though. No more July, although I am thrilled that I was able to experience Bastille Day.
The TP improved drastically between 1999 and 2011. If you had used the old stuff for two months, you would have had blisters somewhere other than your feet.
I do eat some of the French food, but look for the Italian, Chinese, Mexican, or other ethnic restaurants whose foods I prefer. Strangely, with France bordering Germany, I never found any German restaurants. Maybe it has something to do with two world wars and earlier conflicts even before those.
I look forward to reading your blog next spring.