Friday, February 6, 2009


"I didn't know how people could fall love in Paris, but now I'm here, I can understand."

- Chris, the Texan guy from the hostel, as we walked along the Seine.

I don't quite know what to say about Paris. 

It is the prettiest city I've ever seen, and I've seen quite a few pretty cities in the past few months. It's got the elaborate fin-de-siecle buildings of Prague, but without the gaudy ornaments. It's got the grand boulevards of Vienna, but on a larger scale. It's got the bistros of Madrid, and the elegance of Barcelona, and the teeming mass of London. 

The boulevards are lined with elm trees. The buildings are uniform in height and uniform in style. The Seine winds through it in a sweeping, lazy curve. And it's really something to see it when the sun's shining and the weather's reasonably warm. 

It incorporates a lot of the attributes of all the great cities I've visited, but it somehow wraps them all up in a sophisticated, elegant sheen. It's like all other cities are imitations of the grandeur that is Paris. And in Barcelona's case, that's literally true. 

But most of all, Paris is so damn French. 

I can't get over how French Paris is. It's so stereotypically, baguette-carryingly, cigarette smokingly, wine-drinkingly, cheese-eatingly French that I burst out in giggles about every five minutes. It couldn't be more French if everyone was called Pierre and wore berets and blue-and-white stripped shirts (which they don't). 

It's hilarious.

The other day, I was sitting at the top of the Champs-Elysees, near the Arc de Triomphe. This old, portly French woman sat beside me, wrapped up in a huge fur coat and bedecked with jewels. She couldn't have looked more French if she'd been walking a poodle that had been dipped in Chanel No.5. A gypsy woman came up to ask for money, and the French woman said "I don't speak English" and told her something else in French. Whatever she said made the gypsy woman very agitated, and she yelled at the French woman before she stormed away.

A minute later, in English, I asked her what she said to the gypsy woman. 

"Oh, I just told her to go away," she replied. 

I'm sure something was lost in translation - just wish I knew what it was. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess that's why Babar stayed so long.

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