10 Things We Learned about Paris

2 Oct

DSCN0571My ignorant view of Paris was rude Parisians wearing berets* in a quaint old city that was all museums and quiet streets. Not so much. No one wears berets, it’s a fast, bustling city and the people are really nice. Oh, and the food is incredible. Even still, I feel like we barely scratched the surface of the city in three days, but they were three great days of lovely surprises.

*It tickles me that Zack thought people would wear berets everywhere. That’s such an “I learned French culture from the Madeline book series” kind of stereotype — a little innocent and childlike. I’m glad the lack of berets was not disappointing.

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1. No one wears berets.

OK I didn’t think they were super common, but I thought they’d be at least like cowboy hats in Austin*, where you see them often enough. Nope. No one wears them. These three tourists at the Eiffel Tower in pink berets were literally the only people we saw wearing them. Kinda surprising.

*I met many Germans who asked if we rode horses in Texas as our main form of transportation. Touché, Europe. And a waiter in Venice made a shooting guns hand gesture. Well, that’s accurate. 

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2. Parisians aren’t rude.

We found the Parisians to be incredibly nice and helpful and forgiving of our language gap. They were gracious and interesting and seemed more than fine with tourists being there. They have their own things going on and happily co-exist with you and point you in the right direction. We were pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t so much concerned that people would just be mean as I was that they would get frustrated with me or be disappointed when I could only mumble a few “merci”s here and there while I pointed and shrugged. Everyone we came across was beyond understanding and patient and helpful, which was just lovely.

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3. They love motorcycles.

We expected a lot of motorcycles in Italy, but they were everywhere in Paris. Zipping down the street around cars, there were practically three lanes of traffic, with bicycles, motorcycles and cars weaving around. It’s wild. It’s a far more hustling bustling city than either of us expected. I knew Paris was going to be big and bustling, but the motorbikes did definitely surprise me. I expected more rollerblades than anything, and those were few and far between. There were also tons of cyclists, which was awesome to see.

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4. You’ll say “this is the best X I’ve ever had” a lot.

Best crepes. Best croissants. Best macaroons. Best wine. Best cheese. Best bread. Best hot chocolate. Best food of any city we went to by a mile. I’d been warned about the amazing food, but you really don’t know till you’re there, letting a crepe melt in your mouth or some risotto blow your brain cells out into the universe. Paris does food brilliantly.

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5. The pastries are even better than you think.

I don’t know how they do it. The croissants aren’t just better in Paris than they are in Italy. They’re worlds better. Same with macaroons. We had to stop eating them altogether in Italy because they simply could not compare. Germany could hold their own, but there’s something special about the pastries in Paris. Eat them as often as possible. And make a special point to go to the crepe district. I miss French food so much already. Particularly since we followed Paris up with Venice, whose food culture is apparently altogether absent, it just magnified how delicious the everything-edible really was.

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6. The cheese is even stinkier than you think.

It stank up out entire apartment. The taste stayed on my mouth all day. I loved it. Caitlin wasn’t as big a fan. And that’s an understatement. She didn’t eat much cheese and told me it smelled like I was eating out of a diaper every time I went for the cheese. It’s not that I was surprised that Paris had stinky cheese. I’ve had French cheese before with my lady friends. I know what’s up when it comes to the French and their cheese. But something about this one particular reel of Camembert was just SO diaper-y that it killed me every time Zack took it out of the packaging.

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7. Naploean’s stuff is better than everyone else’s stuff.

We expected The Louvre to be really cool, but gave way more thought about the statues and the Mona Lisa than Napolean’s furniture. OMG, were we wrong. It made it to our top 10 of Europe list for a good reason. Lil’ guy has fancy stuff for days. As long as everyone promises not to behead me, I really would like to just go ahead and take up residence in Napolean’s Apartments. Or at least do some kind of recreation in my own home one day. Gold leaf paint everywhere? Done!

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8. Bastille smells like milk.

Caitlin said most stops smell like “elephants” which is what she said instead of “piss,” but one stop, Bastille, smelled like milk. It wasn’t just one time. We were at this stop quite often and every time it was like, oh, hey, milk. Got milk? Someone must have. It was odd. It was a depressing association, particularly since we adore the band Bastille and I would have much rather just sung “Flaws” to myself every time we stopped at the station. But no, it wasn’t meant to be — instead it was sour milk smell as far as the nose could reach.

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9. The fashion isn’t too intimidating.

I expected that I would have to seriously up my fashion game in gay Paris, but as it happened, everyone was pretty much just bundled up normally. Maybe it was just due to the cold, but I really didn’t feel like women’s fashion stood out to me in any particular way. Sure, you’d have a very sharply dressed woman trot by in heels now and again, but overall, I felt like Zack and I blended in just fine in our attire. It was both a relief, and a bit disappointing because I was hoping to steal all of the fashion ideas from all of the fashionistas over there. Maybe there was a district we missed out on visiting that features more fashion-forward Parisians. Next time, Paris. I honestly didn’t notice either way. 

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10. You can’t see Paris in 3 days.

We saw maybe 1/3 of the things on our list. We missed most of the museums, we didn’t get to add our lock to the bridge, we missed some of the best dessert places, we missed both our dinner reservations — the list goes on and on. Paris is spread out and everything takes time if you want to do it right. You need to do Paris right. It’s a fantastic city that blends old and new and is incredibly vibrant. Spend a full week. All I can do is agree. We overbooked, let exhaustion overcome us too much, and picked a mall when we shoulda picked a museum. Lessons learned and interest duly peaked for the next time! And there will be a next time! A week in Paris in 2015 or 2016. 

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One Response to “10 Things We Learned about Paris”

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  1. 10 Things We Learned about Each Other | rockloveaustin - October 8, 2013

    […] already gone through the 10 things we learned about Germany, Paris and Italy and now we move on to what we learned about each other. After nearly three years together […]

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