I think, as a woman, I grew up having very romantic ideas when it comes to Paris. All of us do (or most anyway.). It seems so fantastic in pictures! Kissing under the Eiffel Tower, staring in wonder at the Arc de Triomphe, feeling chills run down your spine in Notre Dame with the coloured glass panes casting you in hundreds of colours. In movies, it's always so seductive and sensual in Paris, with masculine heroes winning the hearts of fair maidens. Or something like that anyway.
I didn't like it at all.
Am I doing a crime in the name of womanhood by saying so? Maybe I am. But I tell you, Paris didn't work for me. I'm really sorry to all of you Parisians who may (or may not) read my blog. Maybe if I had met you there, I would feel differently. But when I tell you the people in Paris are really impolite, I'm being kind. They're really, really impolite. Still being kind. How impolite? Go to Paris. You'll see what I mean.
Our experience was interesting. We arrived on the sixth of September, which happened to be our four year wedding anniversary, via the Eurostar. Imagine getting on a train in London and climbing off in Paris, which is on the other side of the English Channel, only two hours later. Kind of crazy!
Anyway, we landed at Gare du Nord Station in Paris, which was crazy. In Amsterdam, we got off and people spoke English, or understood our Afrikaans, since Dutch and Afrikaans are so closely related. (They called us Kitchen Dutch in the Anglo-Boer war. Random info.) In London, Heathrow, we got off and spoke English. In both these places, we could find our way.
Gare du Nord was different. No-one, I repeat; NO-ONE, in Paris wants to speak English. You would think that in a city like Paris they can actually speak it, where in rural areas they wouldn't know a word? Not so, my friends, not so. Even in the train station, where tourists disembark from the Eurostar every day, they don't speak English. Or maybe they do, but they don't want to help you, who knows.
Luckily, Jan has a sense of direction like a satellite navigation system, and he found us a way onto the trains and straight to Mairie de Clichy station, from where we went straight to the hotel. Now, again, you would think that the hotel staff, who work with tourists every day, would be kinder to us non-French speaking folk. And again, you'd be surprised. We had one, single clerk in our three day stay who actually wanted to help us. The others didn't give a monkey's behind.
Paris as a city also held no charm for me. Where London has this kind of quiet charm, Paris had nothing. It's a very busy and impolite place. Impolite still doesn't quite nail it.
So, on day one, my wedding anniversary, we simply walked around for a while, taking in the city. We had dinner on the Champs Elysees, at a charming little restaurant called Pizza Vesuvio (I know, pizza in France.). The food was great and the place had a nice atmosphere, looking out on the most expensive street in the world. After dinner, while waiting for it to get dark (Jan wanted some spectacular night shots of the Arc), we walked up and down the Champs Elysees, after which we gave up on waiting for dark and went to the Arc de Triomphe.
Night falls in Paris after 10 pm. No lies. But anyway, we got some spectacular night shots in the end. Highlights of this first day included the food, a spray paint artist we saw in action (this is so awesome to me, I'll do a feature post on it sometime.) and my first Sephora makeup store, which was about as big as a Makro in South Africa. The Arc de Triomphe is huge, much bigger than you imagine when you look at pictures, so that was amazing as well.
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals!