While I lived in Paris many years ago, it seemed much of my time was spent working, commuting to and from work, or lining up to get into movie theaters or other popular places. We were in our late 20s then, and had few responsibilities. Several times a week, evenings were reserved for relaxation, a good dinner with friends, or a movie. Saturday afternoons were perfect for running errands and le lèche-vitrine, (window shopping.) Sunday lunches with relatives were sacred. In the afternoon, there was time for some sightseeing, or a visit to a special exhibit. In the spring and fall, when days were longer and la grisaille (grey skies) finally lifted, we would indulge in day trips to the Normandy coast. Seaside resorts such as Deauville and Trouville, or quaint towns like Honfleur were (and still are) très popular with Parisians.
While we were in Paris a few days ago, I looked around whenever we were en ville (downtown.) People watching has always been the cheapest form of entertainment in Paris. I looked at Parisians and saw them running around, looking down, jumping on and off packed cars in le Métro, munching on a galette complète (a ham and cheese crêpe,) or a jambon beurre (butter and ham sandwich,) as they walked the streets at lunch time, looking at window displays. I realized things had not changed that much since we left. This used to be me. Paris is still one crazy, hurried place to live.
I also noticed that Parisians still know how to appreciate their city. In spite of their busy schedules, they look at her, flirt with her, and take the best she has to offer. Theirs is an enduring and tempestuous relationship, one that is often underestimated and misunderstood by the rest of France, where there has been a long-lasting tradition of criticizing ces fous de Parisiens (these crazy Parisians.) And so, without further ado, here is French Girl in Seattle‘s tribute to Paris and her people: 10 steps to experiencing Paris like a Parisian.
Rule #1: Know your cafés and restaurants. Realize that sitting outside will cost more, but do it anyway, whenever possible (in spite of smokers.)
Rule #2: Drop the iPhone. Respect the written word. Make time for your favorite newspaper, or a good book.
|Sports fans always start the day with “L’Equipe.”|
|Place des Vosges, le Marais|
Rule #3: Pick a chair, or a bench (only tourists sit in the grass in public gardens.) Look around. Take a deep breath. Just be.
|Canal St. Martin|
|Place des Vosges|
Rule #4: Organized sports? B.o.r.i.n.g! Just keep moving, and walk, walk, walk!
Do locate the ice cream truck. Les glaces, l’après-midi, c’est sacré (ice cream in the afternoon is sacred)!
Rule #6: Who needs a beach? Work on your tan. It’s a fantastic accessory.
Rule #7: Visit museums. Tour exhibits. Take walking tours with local guides. Check out local artists. This is one amazing city!
|Fête de la Musique, June 21, 2012|
|Atget exhibit, Musée Carnavalet|
|Louis Vuitton – Marc Jacobs exhibit
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Rule #8: Open your eyes. Be curious.
Rule #9: Respect Paris, and she will respect you.
|Looking for the beach, dude?|
|Another snooty Parisian waiter!|
Rule #10: Merde (and strikes) happen. Stay calm. Prove guidebooks wrong: Keep smiling. Don’t feed the pigeons. Focus on that great chair/bench waiting for you, somewhere…
|“Wednesday June 20. Opening hours: 2:00p.m.-7:00pm.
— I will be back by 2:30pm.”