Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Paris: The Third Week

My sexy home office in La Marais
The following are observations made mostly during my third week in the City of Lights.

1. If you use the Internet, you will find that about 1 in 5 large internet sites are so strictly regionalized that the French version is the only version that can be used in France. This is very inconvenient if you want to buy an English version of some software, for example. Fuck you Electronic Arts!

2. Paris lives, breathes and eats fashion and style. I truly believe that before the average Parisian goes out of their stylish home in the morning, they say, "What will I add to this stylish city today?" Then they dress appropriately.

3. There are no fat men here. Women can be found delightfully wearing a few curves, but that is all. You could sit in a cafe all day and never see someone who is obese. The reason that I notice the men in particular, is because at my current weight of 76 kg, I might be one of the fattest men in the whole city. I will have to lose at least 6 kg just to be inconspicuous... and to be permitted access into a men's clothing store.

4. If you periodically return to the same place to shop for food, beverages, or what you will, you will find that the proprietors will be much happier to let you practice your French on return trips, and will even assist you in speaking in a more Parisian sort of way. My American friends warned me that 'rude' French people will refuse to speak English to you when they can. The opposite seems to be true, however. When asking a question in my imperfect French, they will often answer in English. To me, this feels rude, though for them, I am sure that it is more a matter of expediting the interaction.

5. So far, one of my favourite cafés is in a very unlikely location. It is called the L'Atelier Renault at the Renault dealership on the Champs-Élysées. They are doubly happy to see you, firstly because of your patronage to the café and secondly because you are probably thinking about the Renault brand.

6. By night, Paris is crawling with vampires.

7. If you bother to step down into a Metro station you will find that they trains work more or less the same as any other subway system in the world, with similarly styled maps. The Metro is a little unwieldy for travel with luggage, but for any other use it is very easy and the ticket dispensers can be operated in English.

8. Champagne can be ordered in an indignant fashion by a non-Parisian simply by shouting "Une coupe?" at a waiter before sitting; then quickly looking away without waiting for the answer. My first attempt to do this was considered more hilarious than indignant, however, and I am now friends with the waiter.

9. Lingerie is a very serious matter in Paris. In the Galerie Lafayette, an elegantly monstrous shopping mall in the center of the city, a whole floor is dedicated to lingerie. On the Parisian streets, a different lingerie shop can be found on every, if not every other block. If it were somehow known that you were wearing underwear that didn't match, I believe that it would make your Parisian company very uncomfortable.

10. Return trips to the Louvre do not make it any less unbelievable. While strolling past three Da Vinci paintings in a row, the center one caught my eye. I hadn't even noticed them on a previous visit. There was no crowd around them, no sign that said, "OMFG!! Da Vinci!!!" They were just there... and then there was nothing but me and Leonardo for an exquisitely long moment. I have two more wings of the museum that I have not even entered yet.

Leonardo da Vinci's "St. John"
goes woefully unnoticed.

11. Finding inspiration to write has not been easy here at all. I am quite more inspired to leave my desk to go and see more of the city. I think that with time, however, the inspiration to write will come as the Parisian stories start filling my head. I think I will have to bring Candy here for my next book.

With a mixture of astonishment and love,

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