Paris for the week

So, I’m in Paris this week.

I don’t say things like that very often, so I should write about how I ended up here and what I’m doing. That’s not to mention that the writing juices are flowing because I have decided to follow in the footsteps of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the like (NOT Gertrude Stein) by writing in reading rooms of bookstores and cafes and parks. I even splurged on a gorgeous leather-bound journal for the occasion. And it’s already a third full.

The metro stop outside the apartment I'm staying.

I’m going to be brief, though, because I am in Paris, after all, and have not been addicted to my computer and phone and the news for the last couple of days. And Cathy and I will be having eggs and wine for dinner shortly — in her and Eric’s amazing apartment. You can see the Eiffel Tower from their bathroom window. This morning I walked to it.

The Eiffel Tower was probably the worst part of my trip. Long lines, annoying people — basically the obligatory tourist attraction, and now that I have it out of the way I don’t have to feel like I need to do anymore of those things.

This day was comparatively the least exciting. All of the magnificence warm, sandy streets and black structures that I stepped into last Thursday was muted by the first dreary day of weather. It wasn’t that the setting was any less fancifully Parisian, but it’s incredible what a change in mood the sunshine can cause.

In addition to the weather, I was muted by an odd, but unfortunately typical experience that happened the other night. In a mission to seek out the best cheese plate my friends had stumbled upon in Paris, we planned to eat a very exciting place along the canal. The event was a complete disaster from the start. The waiter recognized that we were American because we were speaking English, so wouldn’t speak with us in French even though my friends could have communicated perfectly well had he simply not made any assumptions. I won’t go into the aggravating and ugly details, but I will say that anti-Americanism is very much alive, and well, he was a jerk.

But the cheese plate was worth it.

Because with the ugly French stereotypes come the positively delightful ones, like eating yummy cheese and drinking wine and actually kissing people on each cheek when you greet them.

I booked the ticket to come here three days before I left. It may have not been the best decision, sure, but I make a lot of good decisions.

And as far as traveling goes I did it the right way: 1) I’m very lucky to have friends to accommodate me and 2) I’m also a pretty thrifty traveler.

Sitting at a fountain, lounging on a chair, eating this scrumptious treat -- very Parisian.

I will leave anyone who wants to channel their American expatriate with some advice regarding the second point. Not that I want to advertise the amount of money I dropped on this trip, but I will think it’s only fair I share with my fellow human beings that my tickets totaled only 600 bucks! On top of that, Paris is expensive but it’s not unaffordable if you do it the right way. My guide book was A Moveable Feast, which I read on the plane, and visiting all of the places a literary figure writes about and is inspired by is a magical way to see a city — and that’s not even to mention the French existentialists.

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9 thoughts on “Paris for the week

  1. I love the photo on the bridge with the locks!! There is one like it in Koln too – very cool. And that treat with the raspberries – what is it?! Is it… a smooch?! Great post, can’t wait to hear about it in person!

    1. HAHA I would not have caught on to the smooch comment had Eric not been sitting right here. Yes, we have decided it was a smooch. I don’t actually know. It’s kind of macaron-esque — it was so sweet and the berries were mucho freche (nope, still don’t know any French). And today Eric made me eat the tastiest pastry, a “palmier” — and also we witnessed a drug deal happen on the steps of the Sacre Couer.

      I truly can’t wait to catch up with you, and tell you more about the photo on the bridge, which a Parisian man offered to take for me when I first arrived in the city. He then proceeded to pursue me for quite some time as I walked around sightseeing, even after I explained I was perfectly fine on my own. I promise it’s not as creepy or frightening as it sounds. He just really thought I needed companionship. OK, it was a little creepy. But admittedly flattering. Apparently, the locks are a very new thing. But that’s coming from a French man who spends his afternoons following around American girls, so … take it with a grain of salt?

  2. I didn’t want to tell you my “anti-American” experiences when I visited Paris just to give you and Paris the benefit of the doubt – however, after reading your post I would agree to say that when an American is in Paris, you will truly be treated as an American. Enough said =)

    – Alisa K

    1. Hmm, yeah, it was even more disturbing because up until that point, everyone had been very friendly. Besides, I’ve traveled through Europe before and I’m certainly sympathetic to a certain level of that sentiment. There’s a fine line between distaste and prejudice though. And the cheese plate man hated us purely because we were born in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Oh well. They still enthusiastically patronize McDonald’s and consume American pop culture. Hypocrites! :P

  3. Hope you’ve read ‘The Paris Wife’ to get Hadley’s perspective :) It’s funny to read your comments after just finishing William Maxwells’ ‘The Chateau’ about an American visiting France just after the war, its as if nothing has changed and in fact that is probably true. Though more French have left France and returned but that takes some time to have any effect, except as you point out, their penchant for MacDo’s as they call it.

    1. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments! I will absolutely check out your recommendations — especially Hadley’s perspective, which I’m very much interested in after reading A Moveable Feast.

      The French-American relationship is a very delicate subject, one I’m more and more interested in being here and especially talking to friends who are living in Paris. I’m not quite sure about my thoughts on it right now, but it’s peculiar to observe how people react to me — whether it’s motivated by xenophobia or nationalism or none of the above.

      I’m very excited to check out your blog when I’m back in the states with a little more time :)

      1. Check out my review on ‘La Seduction’ also, by Elaine Sciolino, she gives an interesting, contemporary view, although she’s specifically interested in her subject, but its an interesting perspective and it will be interesting to follow the debate now that it is to be be translated into french – will they agree with her? I listened to a book club discussion of it and it was hotly debated between the French and American participants, and yes, take a little time to reflect, it requires some distance, a little frustrating in the immediate :) Bonne voyage.

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