I had no preconceived notions or expectations when I landed in Paris on January 7th. Sure I had seen some movies that had romanticized the city and the culture, but I really had no idea what the reality would be, so I came with an open mind.
The first thing that surprised me was the rather soiled sidewalks. We hadn’t been off the plane for more than an hour when my friend Cathy slid her pristine, beige swede Prada boot through a pile of Parisian dog poo. We of course had been looking at the sights not the sidewalk and had completely missed the fact that it seemed that a fair number of Parisians had never heard of a pooper scooper.
Now I know that Parisians are supposed to be known for being stylish and fashion forward, but there was one shocking fashion trend in Paris that I have to question. Puffy coats. Really? There is nothing chic about a puffy jacket. I don’t care if you’re Carla Bruni. Puffy coats are fugly and should only be worn in Portland where they are more of a uniform than a fashion statement.
I can understand quite a bit of French, seeing that I tortured my first born by sending him to the French American School for five years, and I took a year of French in high school. Never mind the fact that I was living in Finland at the time, still trying to learn Finnish, and learning French from a teacher who only spoke Finnish. When I speak French I probably sound like a Cajun trying to speak German. But come on Parisians, throw me a bone. You know what I’m trying to say. Stop looking at me like I’m standing there naked and speaking Greek.
The biggest surprise to me regarding Paris was how beautifully walkable it is. My girlfriend and I would just choose a different arrondissments every day and explore it on foot all day long. The only time we ever took a cab was to and from the airport.
Paris is a wonderful city to get lost in. My advice to you: go without a plan, wear comfortable shoes, and allow yourself to dream. And make sure you watch where you’re walking!