I’ve been in Paris for almost a week, and I’m finally beginning to get a feel for it. The first few days I was hazy with jet lag and from a trip made suddenly more difficult by the fact that Zoom airlines declared bankruptcy the day I was to fly, tossing me into frantic last-minute phone calls to Air Canada from the Red Arrow bus between Edmonton and Calgary.
But in the end I got here, and that hellish trip is slowly receeding from memory. I’m finally looking up and around, and realizing — hey, wait a minute, I’m in Paris. And not only am I here, I get to really live here, to get to see it as more than just a tourist. I’ve even stayed away from the Eiffel Tower so far, but I’m sure I’ll get there.
Today I managed to wander around my neighbourhood and gather everything I needed for the night’s meal, all done in French. It was halting, bad French, but I did it nonetheless. And unlike in the more central tourist areas, everyone let me try and spoke patiently back to me in French.
Observations so far:
– If you make eye contact with a man, it’s quite likely you’ll get hit on. I’ve gotten one phone number so far, been called “mignionette” a few times (I think it means cutie), and had one man ask (in French) “Do I have a chance?” I walked on without answering, and he good-naturedly replied “No? Okay then, thanks anyway.” These solicitations have dramatically dropped off along with the temperature and the exchange of my cute dresses for jeans.
– Almost all breakfast cereal contains chocolate. I’m a big fan of chocolate, but it’s a little bit excessive even by my standards. For example, there’s no need for both hard, crunchy chocolate balls and soft, gooey chocolate packets to be combined into one breakfast experience. Also, All Bran just doesn’t go with chocolate. Give me my pain au chocolat, and leave it at that.
– I have forgotten most of the grammar that I knew. I have a better instinct for the correct answer than many in my class, but when it comes to straight knowledge, I’m kind of at a loss. I’m trying to read my Bescherelle, and the simpler of the newspapers every night, and I’m hoping that will help. I also watched the Simpsons (or should I say Les Simpson) tonight — I’m not sure if that’s the best way to go about learning a new language.
– There are a lot of I (heart) T-shirts and signs here. “I (heart) L.A.” “I (heart) New York.” “I (heart) Paris.” My favourite was a young, surly-looking teenage boy with the slogan “Je ne (heart) rien. I’m Parisien.”
– I loved passing a lycee just as it let out, and having a group of French teenagers walking behind me, singing really bad American pop at the top of their lungs with really strong French accents.
– Cheese is much better here, and there’s so much more of it. Wine is not cheaper than water, despite what everyone says, but it’s still pretty darn cheap. I enjoy watching everyone walk home carrying their baguettes, which I thought was a stereotype, but is absolutely the reality. I’m a little confused by the fact that even when it’s raining the baguettes still only get half wrapped, meaning people kind of try to angle them down and beneath their bodies as they walk.
So, I’m getting over my mixed feelings about this place, and beginning to see the possibilities. I wasn’t immediately swept off my feet, but I was too busy looking for a place to take a nap the first few days to really pay attention.
As for the rather stereotypical name of this blog: Paris, je t’aime? I’m not sure yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, a few pictures.
L’arc de triomphe, looking all triumphant: