Overall, my mom and I had an amazing time in Paris. Below are my final thoughts…
1. The food was fresh, plentiful and delicious to me.
2. I have already written about experiencing several of the various cultural attractions in Paris. I loved the rich history of each institution and could spend days, weeks or even months exploring Paris’ cultural offerings.
3. The people of Paris were a lovely surprise. When I did some translation work for a French man in the past, he advised me to visit Italy instead of Paris if I wanted to go on a European trip because “French people aren’t especially personable to foreigners”. I didn’t find that to be true at all. While there were a couple of rude people (like everywhere!), I found the locals to be warm and helpful. They would stop – even in the rain – to point us in the right direction or to find someone who could do so. They would even move over so that us strangers could sit with them at their tables in crowded cafes.
Even observing the way that they interacted with one another was appealing. Generally speaking, they are much more openly affectionate – hugging and kissing friends, family and sweethearts – than in the States. I like that.
No place is perfect (not even NYC) though, so there were a couple of things that I definitely did not like about Paris.
1. I think that the first thing – scammers – is common to all major tourist areas. It was just in a different language. In addition to the constant pick pocket warnings that were spoken and written at the different cultural attractions, two different women tried to scam me in the exact same way! Basically, they acted as if they just found a gold ring that they thought was mine. When I responded that it wasn’t my ring, they pretended that they wanted to give me the valuable ring as a “gift” since they found it near me. All they wanted in exchange was a few euros as a “thank you”. My mom laughed at me because several people kept approaching me. “You must have that (sweet) face,” she said. “Little do they know that they picked the worst person to try get over on,” she continued. I don’t know about that, but fortunately, I wasn’t successfully scammed during this trip. Living in New York for the last 21 years has taught me a thing or two…
2. The only other thing that I really didn’t like was the prevalence of public smoking in Paris. Here’s the thing…if people want to smoke, that’s their business. It only becomes my business when they blow their cigarette smoke in my face…, which happened a lot in Paris. People walked down the streets smoking, they sat in cafes smoking. One night my mom and I were eating an amazing dinner at an outdoor café when a random passer-by just stopped in front of our table, turned his back to us and started smoking a cigarette. As the smoke blew into my face, I thought to myself, “Seriously?!” After a few (admittedly exaggerated) coughs, he got the point and moved down from us a few steps. Obviously, I can’t expect a location to change their norms for me, but the constant smoke-filled air was definitely a minus. By the end of the days, my eyes were red from other folks’ smoke blowing into my eyes…not to mention my lungs. No thank you!
In any event, the good far outweighed the bad when it came to my overall perception of Paris. The few days that I spent in Paris with my mom were jam-packed with wonderful, priceless memories. Je suis reconnaissant. (I am grateful.)
Have you ever been to Paris? If so, what did you think? What did I miss out on (if anything)?