Short notes from Paris, part I

…with French bullet points, because that’s just how continental I am.

un: Today I learned that a) my English tendency to apologise is magnified tenfold when a guest in another country; b) when I blurt-apologise, I do it in English; and c) saying something in a French accent does not make it French. My French accent, by the way, puts me somewhere between Marge Simpson and someone telling an inappropriately dirty joke. I keep getting these startled looks. Luckily Timothy speaks enough French to put right any misunderstandings (‘non, monsieur, she’s just trying to order sausage-and-mash…’).

deux: I love the Paris Metro. Whose idea was it to make the tickets tiny and pretty, so you feel like you’re being admitted to a secret tram-appreciation club? The downside is that the French, it seems, do not believe in letting pregnant ladies sit down. I try not to be a treat-me-special baby-carrier, but on some occasions I wish I could strap a foetus and a gallon of amniotic fluid to someone’s torso, and see how they like being crammed into someone else’s armpit.

trois: Our district is a maze of streets where cafe follows art gallery follows old bookshop. There are about twenty art galleries on our road alone. How do they all stay afloat? It’s not like you get too fat for your paintings and need to buy larger sizes. In the evenings it buzzes with people and smells like a thousand delicious foods, all of which I wish to throw into my mouth, and for this, we love it.

quatre: We ate dinner in a little bistro we found recommended by Lonely Planet. It was delicious, and not too nose-stingingly expensive. SCORE ONE FOR THE CUSTOMISED MAP. My mashed potato turned out to be about 80% cheese, and believe me, this is a ratio I will emulate in my own cooking from now on. I’m afraid I can’t talk about the creme brulee and apple tart that followed. The feelings are still too raw, now it’s too far away to buy more.

cinq: Late at night, we took a boat down the Seine and watched the lights float past the window. Lovely, lovely. Being Henry-free apparently makes us sillier than any two adults approaching thirty have any right to be, and our camera was already full of arm’s-length self-portraits. In between these, we managed a few of the Eiffel Tower. About halfway down the river it started sparkling like a demented Christmas ornament, which apparently it does now. I suppose it wanted to branch out a bit. Dream big, Eiffel Tower! Dream the impossible dream!

Coming in part II: a pain au chocolat/human anatomy size comparison, Victor Hugo’s tiny legs, and a bathroom emergency within spitting distance of actual Van Gogh.

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6 thoughts on “Short notes from Paris, part I

  1. I’m so glad you had a nice time! That said, after hearing about your experience on the Paris Metro, I have to make a gentle plug for Vienna: true, we mostly work on an honor system (so almost no punching of tickets), but people actually give up their seats to pregnant ladies and old people (even if you accidentally offend the honor of the little old man because ein schoenes Fraeulein shouldn’t be giving up her seat. True story). Can’t wait to see more pictures!

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    • I was saying just the other day how Vienna is definitely on my travel wish list. Heard such an interesting segment on the Today Programme the other day about how Freud, Jung, Stalin, Trotsky and Hitler were all in Vienna at the same point in 1913 – someone just wrote a book about it. You should look it up: it sounded fascinating!

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