Many of the stereotypes you hear about Paris seem to be accurate. The food is a delight yet heavy and coated in butter. The Eiffel Tower is a specimen, worthy of hours in its presence. The Louvre is not only the World’s most impressive historical collection of mankind’s existence but far too big to digest in one week, let alone one day. Picasso’s life is clearly explained through his works but it would be hard to truly understand without a visit to the museum dedicated to his craft. It’s easy to fall in love all over again as the city is dripping with romance. Wine is less expensive than water; if you don’t gain 5-10 pounds you simply didn’t do it correctly.
What struck me as an absolute that I wasn’t expecting is the reason (not the fact) the French seem to dislike Americans, particularly from the USA, is being protective of their heritage. Protective of their culture. Protective of their way of life. We can relate to that, can we? Or can we? Everywhere my family visited we were struck by the homegrown feel of the brick and mortar retail, the café’s, the Metro, shit, even the tourist attractions. The French make a concerted effort to block multi-national chains, big-box stores and expats from making a “killing” on what they view as a hole in the current marketplace.
What I realized is that it is a form of xenophobia not based on race or religion but based on the idea that the people in charge are the old guard, the elders, the stewards of the French brand that let it be know if you haven’t taken the time to understand our way of life and our city, we have no interest in helping you do so. A bit of a catch 22, sure. But in this man’s humble opinion it’s a catch worth making. Viva la Paris.
Make sure you:
- Visit Shakespeare & CO bookstore
- Drink hot chocolate (or cold “hot” chocolate)
- Have a picnic in the/a park
- Are ready to dive deep into the world of art
- Eat cheese
- Find your favorite baguette shop and order a fresh one daily
- Read at a café
- Eat a classic French dinner (beef bourgeon)
- Are ready for great wine
- Use the Metro
- See the lights flicker on the Eiffel Tower
- View the city from a vista high off the ground
- Run on the Seine (or at least have a coffee)
- Shop – the local wears are outstandingly adorable
- Think at the Thinking Man – Rodin’s sculpture garden is a sight to see.
- Go to the Picasso Museum, period.
- Have ice cream on Ile de St Louis
If you miss it don’t lose sleep:
- The Mona Lisa, to me, is a tad over rated. This city is chalk-full of outstanding art and battling against a consistent stream of thousands of on-lookers is an exercise steeped in obligation
- Avoid tourist targeted café’s – you can do so much better
- People be smoking! Just expect your fair share of second hand smoke.
- Don’t try to fit it all in. Take your time, Paris isn’t going anywhere.
David A. Cook