Oui/No: Paris

I spent six days in Paris, walking its streets, ogling its people, and wondering what to do. Clearly, I did my fair share: I saw most of the big sights (sans Versailles), ate some cheese (but not nearly enough), and sat at cafés sipping coffee, trying to do my best impression of a Parisian.

However, I have begun to realize that there’s a certain amount of art in being a tourist and I have all the skills of a five year old. I expected to discover the most wonderful things in the world on my own accord, but in a huge city with a relatively little amount of time that is a fairly ludicrous pursuit. I was of course more quiet than the groups of kids on break. Because I’m an American (and a yid, to boot); more cheap. All that being said, I tried to experience the city as best I could with my limited palletee.

The importance that the French put on relaxation and enjoyment is truly enviable. Parks, benches, and park benches abound for the use of everyone. I imagine that the more beautiful gardens correspond to higher rents, but it seems like the ability to sit and take in the day is an opportunity afforded to to everyone.

Meals and snacks are never hurried. The waiters (perhaps because they don’t live via tips) never try to hurry you out the door which is a shock to the system as compared to America. In most of the sort-of nicer to nicer restaurants I’ve eaten at in the States, the check has come soon after people’s forks are down (or before).

Unexpectedly, 99% of the people were incredibly nice, ready to help, and willing to ask one another for assistance (I was asked multiple time for directions but always had to embarrassingly reply with a, “No Francais…”) From Pierre (no joke–that was his name) who I sat next to on the plane and then took the Metro with me into Paris instead of a taxi, to the Moroccan at the laundromat, to, of course, Netvin and his family–I have a totally favorable impression of the people.

While I roamed the city and checked each menu for vegetarian and monetary possibilities, I began to notice that a vast majority of the restaurants were the same: same food, same woven wicker chairs, same “fancy” font from Microsoft used on their menus. Not only did this make judging the quality of a restaurant difficult, but I felt as if the stereotype I had in my head of a French restaurant was, amazingly enough, spot on. Many restaurants even had posters that they replicate in Target and/or that damn cat that you see everywhere: I began to wonder if Paris was currently Las Vegasing itself, or if the aesthetic of something “being Parisian” is widely available in America because it was so monotone in France?

Even with my disdain for that cat and Eiffel Tower posters, on the train to Luxembourg I began to wish I had some more time in Paris.

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