Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paris: The Fourth Week

Cupid's embrace is weightless...
as though he is half in flight
I’ve been in Paris for four weeks now.  This is one to two weeks longer than the typical vacation, so I suppose that many of my observations from here on will be of a nature that a typical tourist would not make.  I have taken things slowly, however, so it’s possible that a different traveller could make the same observations on their first day.

1.  As September nears, the city has transformed in a way.  All on the same day, I think it was August 26, every clothing shop in Paris put out its fall and winter lines.  On the same day, every Parisian started to wear fall and winter clothing.  It was uncanny.

2. The tourists are thinning and the shops that were closed for the month of August are reopening, many of which are getting a fresh coat of paint and other repairs.  Somehow, the city feels like it has less people, and yet seems to be much more alive.

3.  Coupling is interesting here.  In Paris it is so very common to see not just the occasional unlikely match, but to see many many unlikely matches in one tour of a busy street.  Black and white, oriental and middle-eastern, young and old, tall and short, blonde and brunette, skinny and fat, dog and cat…  All of these couple types might stroll past in a single day if you sit in a café long enough.

4.  Parisian vampires tend to leave American tourists free from harm.  This is not to promote tourism or boost the economy.  If what I am told is true, American tourists have too much cholesterol in their blood for the Parisian vampire’s more refined palate.

5.  Basic cable here has about fifty channels and they are all thoroughly French.  I've seen movies where aliens or mermaids learn to speak English by watching television.  This method does not work with French.

6.  There are a lot of gay and lesbian bars in Le Marias, so I should mention them.  Except in very large cities, a slim, well dressed person with product in their hair is often suspected of being gay.  Since all the men here are slim, well dressed people with product in their hair, you really can only tell if they kiss another man.   The lesbians, for the most part, are a lot easier to spot.  Coupling with gays and lesbians seems to follow the previous observation, with lots of mixing and matching.

7.  There is no litter in the streets.  Perhaps people don’t litter here or perhaps there are magical litter gnomes that take care of things, but every day that I’ve been here, I’ve found that the streets are entirely free of litter.

8.  I have finally discovered some places with champagne by the glass.  I knew they had to exist, but I suppose I wasn’t very good at spotting them.  A new place is opening in 3 days in the Bastille district that will have many kinds of champagne by the glass.  I plan to become a regular patron.

9.  Nine Euros.  That is roughly the cost for almost everything in Paris.  To visit Notre Dame, the Opera House, or the Arc de Triomphe; nine Euros.  A cheese plate; nine Euros.  A glass of champagne; nine Euros.

A miniature Arc de Triomphe inside the Arc de Triomphe
I'm told there is an even smaller Arc inside this!

10.  I find that taxi cabs here are a comparative bargain in Paris, versus say London or Honolulu.  About 10-15 Euros will cover a large distance across the city and save you the discomfort of public transportation.

11.  I sometimes think about this kid in the movie American Beauty who finds such beauty in a plastic bag blowing in the wind.  His head would have exploded here.  I find the beauty of this place to be simply overwhelming some days… to the point of bringing me to tears.

12.  All kisses in France are French kisses.  This is also true for onion soup, fries, ticklers and poodles.

To all those I miss and love,

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