You can never really understand a place until you set foot in it. Even then it takes time to explore and learn in order to really get a feel for a place. In my 2 weeks in France I saw only a small fraction of what it means to be French and live in France.
Here are a few things I observed during my time there.
1) Who decided the French are rude?
I know I did not cover every corner of the country but the areas I did explore I did not find one single example of a rude person. Instead I found a lot of people willing to help me with directions, food suggestions and general conversation. I do not speak any French. There was not a single person I came across who wasn’t helpful and dare I say it, friendly.
2) The French rail system is much better then New Yorks!
I have lived in New York most of my life and still have trouble with the subways. However in France I was a pro by the end of day two. Everything is neatly organized and the lines are easy to follow. Opposed to the mess that is the NYC subway system. I bought a book of 20 tickets which lasted me almost the entire week I was there. Convenient and so cheap!
3) French pick pocket schemes are hilarious.
We took a free walking tour with Sandeman’s New Europe and were told to look out for a few schemes that Gypsy’s will use to rob you. Ah the Gypsy’s, ever the tricksters. However these schemes are ridiculous and sort of funny. These are the two major ones we saw. When you are walking around crowded areas gypsys will walk up to you with a pen and paper and ask you to sign their petition. What is the petition for? I don’t know. How does this end with you getting robbed? I also have no idea but I saw multiple people try this. The second one is my favorite. A person walks up to you and shows you a gold ring. They ask you if you dropped it. How does this work? I am also not sure but when we were walking around near the Eiffel Tower this happened five times in the matter of a few hours.
4) The food is amazing.
I did not try anything I did not like. Being a vegetarian at home I break that rule when in other countries. I had Beef Bourguignon (beef in a wine sauce) multiple times because I just loved it too much. Several different pastry shop visits so I could get my fill of macaroons and stuffed croissants. One awesome chocolatier (Jeff de Bruges) where the very lovely sales women help me load chocolates into boxes to come home. Lucky for me France is big on wine. Every restaurant I went to I made sure to try their house red. I never left disappointed.
5) How many beautiful places can one city have?
It is unfair how many beautiful things are in Paris let alone the entire country. You can’t turn a corner with out seeing someone wonderful and out of the ordinary. Whether your strolling down the Seine, climbing the Eiffel Tower or dodging traffic to stand close to the Arc de Triomphe it is impossible to not be taken with the city. Heading into the country side to see remarkable Chapeau’s or just enjoying the scenery as it rolls by. The French Riveria with it’s beautiful beaches and mild temperature. How can one place hold so much magic?
Have you ever been to France? What are your favorite things to see? What is your favorite city?