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Paris on "Merci" & "Bonjour"
Rating: (4.4) (7 votes)

Paris, France
June 28, 2004

Pros: Very friendly and nice people.
Cons: we did not find one trash can along the Champs Elysee. Being unable to speak french.

Sunday morning at 7 a.m. our plane touched down in Paris. From there we managed an on-the-spot study of the Paris subway system and, unbelievably, we made it to our hostel, which is located in a shady part of town. Last night, for the second day in a row, someone tried to sell me and Mike drugs. The first time was in DC at Union Station where some guy pulled out some crack rocks. The guy in Paris, though, spoke every language except English so I spoke to him in Spanish, but he just wanted to sell us some hash so we said no and left.

The first thing Michael did was to take pictures of all the trash in the streets and a homeless dude on the street as evidence that the French are not as enlightened as they think. I don't think they believe in waste disposal. When we were walking around the Arc de Triumph Mike got frustrated because he had some trash but nowhere to throw it, I swear, we did not find one trash can along the Champs Elysee, not one.

However, the stereotype of rude French people isn't holding up for us. All the people we've encountered have been nice. I actually wish I could speak French instead of having to blunder through with my English. I try to say Merci and Bonjour as much as I can though.

I feel bad about knowing only English and some Spanish. We were out talking to our hostel mates in the courtyard they have at the hostel and met some Californian girls from Santa Monica which made me feel less like I was in a foreign land and more like I was closer to home. One guy, who pulled up a chair later on, was also Californian, from SF, but he could speak fluent French, which he learned from magazines and going to a French cafe in SF. One of the girls could also speak French as well as fluent Spanish.

All in all, right now I feel bad about my limited language skills. But it is fun to pronounce the French station names like Chatelet and saying Bonsoir and Bonjour. It has only been two days and I'm already getting a feel for the French language.

I thought there would be more tourists, but most of the people we encounter are French-speaking. I do see a lot of families, like a Mom and Dad and kids. When I see them I remember when I came to Paris with my family. I had a great time back then. Everywhere me and Mike go, it reminds me of that first trip to Paris. And I kind of wish my parents were here to enjoy Paris with me again.

It was great, when I went with my parents the Champs Elysee was closed to traffic, because of a holiday I think, and it was so quiet. We ate at a restaurant on the avenue and my parents let me order. Predictably, I ordered pizza. We ate that meal as the sun went down behind the Arc de Triumph, on a completely pedestrian-friendly street.