We got off to a rough start in Paris (see last post), and I’m not sure we ever fully recovered or were able to appreciate the city’s supposed romance. However we did have some great experiences.
By in large, both Laura and I really enjoyed interacting with Parisians. I’m not sure where the stereotype of the rude French person comes from, but we never really encountered it. On the train into the city, for example, we met an older man named Dominique. At the end of the ride he even gave us his card and told us to call him if we needed anything. Our other interactions brought us into contact with helpful and kind waiters, train attendants and others. (The only time we saw French people get curt was when they were telling tourists to stop taking flash photographs of oil paintings and evening masses.)
Another thing we really enjoyed was the food. Perhaps it’s a cliche to say that the food in France was delicious, but it was. We only ate at a real restaurant once (due to our budget), but we ate a cafes and bakeries other times and the food was uniformly fantastic.
The weather in Paris was also great while we were there. For the most part, it was cool and sunny. One morning, though, right after we left the hotel it did rain and we got drenched, but luckily we were still close enough to go back and change. (Laura loved running through the rain, so the storm itself may even have been a cool experience. Later, after we changed clothes but before the rain stopped we bought a huge, cheap umbrella and tried (unsuccessfully) to find a free ballet performance.)
I also went out one evening while Laura was taking a nap and walked through some old neighborhoods. I had originally gone back to the Louvre, but after pushing through the throngs of people for an hour I decided that the inside of a museum pretty much looks the same anywhere (I had already paid the obligatory visit to the highlights) and that I’d rather get out and see the city.
The neighborhood I found was pretty far from the main tourist sites and most of the stores in the area had already closed, so I basically had the streets to myself. Unfortunately I didn’t find this particular neighborhood until the night before we left, but once I did I began to see why Paris is famous for its beautiful streets. I also had the opportunity to see several of Paris’ famous subway entrances, the oldest of which are done in a fanciful, art nouveau style.