How to not be a bonehead in Paris. Visual Do’s and don’ts for your next trip to the City of Light.
The khaki shorts, the socks hiked to the gods, puzzled eye contact, general clustering and moving in masses. Thanks for visiting Paris, tourists. We see you! Yes, we’d all love the superpower of fitting flawlessly into any destination, but no one can truly blend in on a hop on/hop off bus. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to prevent you from getting jumped for your Rick Steves money belt. -jkw
We are in the demolition stage of our new apartment. This morning, as we walked into the place for our daily visit, our quirky 1950s flat to-be was transformed into the town of Bedrock. Before I could even say “Wow, what a dump!”, “Ohmygawwwwputainmerde!” My first step into the apartment, I got a nail in the foot. The throbbing pain was the least of my worries. Since I have the undisputed Generation Me dilemma of not having had health insurance since my shatterproof undergraduate days, I was sure I could feel my jaw locking in the matter of moments. Luckily, I had an unsuccessful semester in grad school that got me up to speed on that important tetanus shot. Phew!
To help ease the pain, I was whisked off for lunch at the hyper-popular food truck Le Camion Qui Fume by mon mari qui fume. Le Camion Qui Fume ends the search for an authentic American cheeseburger in Paris. Although there are imposters on every cafe menu, 18 euros for a dry, uninspired hamburger on an industrial bun is not worth the ho-hum indulgence. Food trucks have not taken off in Paris yet, partially considering that the French cannot eat with their hands alone. But fellow American expat Kristin Frederick has mastered the right fatty mix of ground beef, the soft, butter-brushed sesame seed buns, real cheddar and shoestring fries to cheer up any expat having a bad day. Although the truck changes locations everyday, we dug into our burgers on the steps of the Église de la Madeleine overlooking the Place de la Concorde. And at just 10 euros for a burger and fries, there is no better bargain or breathtaking view.
One of the major differences between New York and Paris is the pockets of greenery scattered about Paris. Once getting past heavy, Haussmanian doors with ubiquitous door codes (the right of passage to reach any French person, place or thing), the majority of apartment buildings hide a small garden, most likely amidst parked bicycles and garbage cans.
When I met my husband, I was instantly taken by his own private petit jardin. (“He’s got a car, an accent and a garden! Instant upgrade!”, exclaimed my 2009 self). Living on the ground floor, it fills our apartment with clean air and a terrific breeze from the nearby forest, the Bois de Vincennes. And it allows me to indulge in an urban impossibility, compost. As of late, it is a bit unkempt. Case in point, winter rolled around before we had the chance to cut the grass. Ideally, I would love to plant sweet pea seedlings. However, as any photographer/stylist duo, we utilize gardening simply for impromptu photo shoots. In my one-track mind, dress-up always trumps gardening. Trim a branch, strike a pose.
Two months ago on Youtube, every subculture, city resident, ethnic group, and household item had a lot of shit to say. “Shit New Yorkers Say” “Shit My Nigerian Dad Says” “Shit My Towel Says”. And there were a lot of unfortunate wigs and accents along the way. As soon as “Shit Shit Says” came out, the trend was a bit tired for my brilliant “SHIT AMERICANS SAY IN PARIS!” Reviewing my shelf of Eiffel Tower bedazzled diaries from the past, I had enough material to whip up a script, a storyboard, and all both of my friends to make this thing viral. But alas, I saw today that someone by the name of Ludovig beat me to it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rriaeKyRVis) Luckily none of our one-liners overlap. And don’t worry, this American here has a lot of Shit to Say, too. So here is my own material for your viewing pleasure, minus some unfortunate time of me on camera.
Today is my birthday! And the first day of Spring! And it also happens to be the ‘jour de macaron’! I was born on a good day. Free macarons! Thanks http://parisbymouth.com/ for sharing this. If you’ve never tried a macaron before, they are the semi-precious confectionary jewel of certain French patisseries. Crisp on the outside, unctuously intense on the inside. Although the macaron trend is going strong in the States, I’ve never wasted my time finding an American equivalent. (Have you found any good macarons in the USA yet?) So shortly after I started planning my trick-or-treat-style macaron conquest, I realized that France doesn’t follow the same ‘demand and supply’ criteria as Halloween or that happy, happy day when Ben & Jerry’s gives out a free scoop in the States. Eloquence is key to getting anything done in France. Everything needs to be stated precisely and efficiently. So I strutted into Dalloyau, a local participant. I inquired ever-so politely in my most proper French, “Good day, dear sir. Do you happen to be participating in this joyous day of macaron?” Pause. “Yes, in fact we are. If you happen to participate in a tasting, you are certainly welcome.” “Uhhh, yeeaah!…I mean, if you please. I will take a vanilla, kind sir” A little coercing for a small treat. I should have mentioned my birthday first thing.
Take advantage of the beautiful day. And a macaron too, if you please.