I’ve had a lot of great memories this past year – from experiencing Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas to seeing Kanye West perform to dancing with Anderson .Paak. But my favorite thus far would have to be sitting in an Uber van belching Fantasy Remix by Mariah Carey and O.D.B. with great friends in Paris while driving towards the Eiffel Tower. Thank you Uber driver for giving us the aux cord. You made that memory 10x better by allowing us to play Mariah Carey hits.
I’ve always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in person. I used to scroll through Tumblr during my freshman year of high school and gaze at these photos of the Eiffel Tower while imagining myself there. Nine years later, here I am admiring this thing I’ve marveled over in photos. It was such a surreal moment. I became over-joyed; my eyes began to water, and my voice squealed with excitement and thankfulness.
I was in Paris, France watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle with my best friends!
There’s this hot spot called the Place du Trocadero that we walked to to take photos. It was probably about a 15-20 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, but it didn’t feel like it. While on the walk, I shifted between following my friends and walking backwards because I didn’t want to let the tower out of my sight. When will I ever get the chance to see the Eiffel Tower in person again?! Seeing it once is lucky in itself.
We also saw the Notre Dame Cathedral. The detailing is impeccable. It’s one of those things you have to see in person in order to take in it’s beauty; I don’t think my pictures will do it any justice but they will suffice. The building is filled with sculptures of God, priests, and gargoyles. Every square inch of the arches of the three huge doorways probably had about 100 sculptures per doorway! It was breathtaking. I can only imagine how long it took to build this, and that’s probably why modern society is moving toward a simple aesthetic.
Claud Monet’s Water Lillies
We visited a couple museums as well. I saw Van Gogh’s self-portrait at the Musee d’Orsay . At the Musee de l’Orangerie, I took in Monet’s Water Lillies. Then I pushed pass a huge crowd of people admiring the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. We spent about 2-3 hours at each museum, but even then we didn’t get to see everything; We probably saw a quarter of everything the museums had to offer. These are definitely places people could spend a whole day in. But though the art was beautiful to look at, I found my eyes wandering toward everyone’s choice in fashion.
EVERYONE IN PARIS DRESSES SO FLY!
There are so many words to describe how nice they dressed, but fly is the most appropriate of them all. Even the older people dressed fly. They had colorful sneakers on, wore contrast prints, proudly wore flamboyant colors, and some people even had their hair dyed flashy colors. So when I get older and my sense of style is a bit too much for my generation, I will frequent Paris just to wear my bold outfits confidently.
So I said frequent, not live. What you’ve read online about French people is generally true. Every single bit of it. During the trip, I’ve come to accept that it’s just a part of their culture. But it’s pretty off putting being from a different culture, and being someone that values personal space well – that doesn’t exist in France. If you get bulldozed by huge guys in Paris don’t expect a “sorry” or “excuse me.” That’s just how it is. I got used to it for a bit, but by the end of the trip I was so annoyed you would’ve thought I was born with “bitch face.”
They’re also not helpful or friendly. No, the tall, muscular gentleman won’t move their bags out of the way for your huge checked-in luggage, so you better get your tiny, 5′ friend to help you out. Paris is not the destination if you enjoy friendly interactions with strangers. As a frequent traveler, people add depth to my experiences. It makes a place more homey, more humane, more real in my memories. Paris was beautiful, but I would only suggest making it a day trip.
In Paris, they have different dining etiquette. Dining out is leisurely and to enjoy each own’s company. If you go out to dinner with a friend in the U.S., you can expect to be out within an hour, but in Paris, expect to be eating out for two hours. The servers barely check on you, like I said dining out is more for quality time with your party. And asking for the check is rude, which is something we did the few times we ate out because their dining etiquette interfered with our fast-paced, tourist schedule. They also expect you to finish the food since they have smaller servings; if you still have food on your plate, they won’t come back to your table. So for these reasons we barely ate out. We ate at a bunch of bakeries that served pre-made sandwiches and pastries. They serve sandwiches on baguettes and they don’t use mayo. I love baguettes, but I’m not a big fan of mayo-less deli meat sandwiches. Their hot dogs were pretty cool though. They were served on baguettes with cheese and marinara sauce! So if you’re not a deli meat sandwich person, such as myself, Paris is not a travel destination for food. However, their croissants and crepes are the key foods to try. I never cared for crepes until my friend let me try his Nutella and banana crepe. They roll it up like a cone and you eat it in a napkin. I think I should start doing that with the crepes here. Maybe it’ll taste better.
I can now imagine myself at a restaurant picking up my crepe with my hands, rolling it up, and eating it out of my hands…
I also enjoyed having a flat rate for food and not having to think about adding extra money to tip the servers. Being a previous food worker, I do tip generously, but as a customer it’s cheaper to eat out in Paris than it is here in the U.S. My friends and I ate at a some-what fancy restaurant in Paris. I ordered a 7-hour roasted lamb (do you roast lamb? I forgot, but it was cooked for 7-hours!) meal with a red wine all for $25! But of course we can take into account portion size and what not. I’m small and don’t eat much in one sitting, so smaller portions isn’t a big deal. But I would love to get an appetizer, entree, drink, and dessert for as cheap as I possibly can!
So here’s some other random cool things I’ve noticed there:
- Have you ever noticed how close Europeans park next to each other? Well, they have this little black bumper sort of thing on their car like you’ve seen on bumper cars, which protects their car when people try to parallel park. We need that here!
- They sell books on the street at these Bouquinistes. There are book stores and Bouquinistes everywhere!
- They close their shopping stores early at around 8pm. I guess they want everyone to enjoy their evenings, which is nice! It’s very typical of community-focused societies. But I find it odd how unhelpful and rude French people generally are, but maybe they’re only that way with tourists? If you’d like to talk more about this with me, I’d love that!
- Oh and their McDonalds! You could add caramel drizzle or hot fudge to your Oreo McFlurry! Okay, that was probably my favorite part about Paris, haha.
- The street signs are on the corner of buildings! At night it could be very hard to see.
- You’ll notice some cars parked with one tire on the sidewalk. It was pretty typical to see.
- Pharmacies are indicated with a big green plus sign.
- Everyone ate outside, even if it was cold out!
- They are very dog-friendly here! They bring them into shopping stores and super markets.
Finally, I know it seems like I’m not a big fan of Paris because of the general interactions I had with people. But I just wanted to add that I did meet a couple nice people along the way. One lady on the train jumped in to translate for me as I was trying to ask someone to switch seats with me. There were also a couple of people kind enough to speak English to me and/or be patient with me when I couldn’t speak French.
And these small, but impacting moments is why I believe we travel.