Monday, August 16, 2010

Paris: The Second Week

A shot of the Notre Dame Cathedral
from the rarely viewed back side.
Here's what I've learned, early in my second week in the City of Lights.

1.  French wines are really very good.  It seems to me that they probably don't export the good stuff, but prefer to drink it at home. You can buy the good stuff in any wine store or supermarket.

2.  There are a lot of machineguns here.  At the airport, there was some guy just walking around the baggage area with a machine gun looking very carefully for an opportunity to use it.  I saw a lot of these kinds of these sorts of guys at the airport.  At the Louvre, more guys with machine guns poured into the rear courtyard before opening. I didn't see them during the rest of the day, though.  Also, I saw a whole collection of guys with machineguns outside the Air Iran offices a few days ago.  No idea why.

3.  Anything that is slightly touristy will come with the possibility that someone speaks a little English.  Don't go crazy (Americans especially), once you get off the beaten path, your chance of being able to use English goes down exponentially.

4.  Parisian food is really good.  This is not an inflated claim.  Even the little dives and holes-in-the-wall serve better food than I would expect from a fine restaurant in North America.

5.  It was a very sick man indeed, who invented the French 'azerty' keyboard.

The demented French AZERTY keyboard.

6.  I'm not sure why, but I can understand every word of French spoken by an American or British tourist and yet understand very little of anything said by a Parisian native.  I'm getting very suspicious about Rosetta Stone and these French books.

7.  French supermarkets are just large convenience stores by North American standards.  The selections are OK, but the quantities are very small.  It is common to see packets of meat with only 2 slices of meat in them... 2 slices!  Like that will go far.

8.  I have not seen a single mime.  Either this was a myth, or they have all suffocated while trapped in their impenetrable mime boxes.

9.  The mannequins on display in men's' fashion stores are considerably slimmer than their North American counterparts.  I would like to shop in these stores, but fear that I am much too fat to try anything on.

10.  You don't have to go far to find a fresh baguette.  Unlike the North American custom of bread baked fresh before sunrise, fresh baguettes are baked here all day long.  It's not unusual to see someone with a backpack or large purse with two or three baguettes sticking out of them and for good reason.  When you get a fresh baguette home, it makes everything in life better.

11.  French restaurants, even the small cafe's would be alarmed if you tried to bus your own table as is often expected in American (and sadly now, some Canadian) food stops.  The French provide something that you can't really get anymore in North America... service.

12.  I wish to discover where they find the women for French billboards... and spend the rest of my life there.
A billboard on the Rue de Rivoli
Thanks for reading.  More to come soon!

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