Some fifteen years after my previous trip to Paris with Tawn, we are together here again. It wasn’t a planned trip for me. He was to be here as a tag-on to a work trip to Italy. In fact, I was supposed to be in Manila this week, delivering training. However, the fates intervened, my training was cancelled, and I decided to purchase an inexpensive ticket for five nights in Paris.
Paris is different this time. I’ve lived abroad for more than a decade and have traveled much more, so am much more confident than on our first visit. That, combined with the twin miracles of Google maps and Google translate, combined with the convenience of smart phones, has made navigating so much easier.
My French, which I thought completely lost, seems to be somewhat intact. A few days of cramming with the help of the Duolingo app restored enough of the synaptic connections to allow me to communicate in French to a passable degree. What shocked me, though, was how much more English-friendly Paris has become in fifteen years.
While my experiences had never confirmed the stereotype of the rude Parisians unwilling to speak English, fifteen years ago not speaking some French was a handicap. Today, though, I found that nearly everyone was tolerant of my shaky French and both willing and able to supplement with English when need be.
The other difference I have observed is how much more diverse Paris has become. This is a city of color and it has been made all the more vibrant for it. Near our Air B-n-B rental across from Centre Pompidou, there are a number of great-smelling Middle Eastern restaurants. Asian and Asian-fusion restaurants are numerous. And the African diaspora is well-represented, too.
Funnily enough, two Parisian stereotypes were still in evidence aplenty: the horizontally-striped sailor shirts and the baguettes carried underarm on the way home at day’s end. These kept appearing with such frequency that I suspected we were victims of a ruse by central casting!
I will try to share more about the trip, along with my overnight stay in Istanbul on the way here, which was a magnificent experience.
I really like the picture of the two of you. I’m also glad that the Eiffel Tower isn’t sticking out of someone’s head. Enjoy the rest of your time in Paris and have a safe trip back.
Much effort was made to prevent the tower turning into a hat or a harpoon.
The Mall at the Eiffel Tower has such beautiful memories for me. Having a picnic brunch there, just lying in the grass, reading a book. So much nostalgia.
Chris I am so happy that you stopped over in Istanbul. I think by far, the best place of all the places I have visited, Istanbul has to be number one. The city, the food, the people and all the different mosques… eye candy indeed.
Istanbul was spectacular and while I was there only about 16 hours, the city captivated me. I will return soon.
I love Paris. Such a beautiful city and full of life. Agree that I never experienced that French snob stereotype. I do believe though that the Parisians often are much friendly if you’ve made an attempt to speak bad French rather than just speak English from the get go.
Agreed – the effort seems appreciated and they are much more willing to “fill in the gaps” in English.
I’ve never been to France, or Europe, so I doubly enjoyed reading this. Congrats on still being able to use your French. I can imagine how good that would feel 🙂
Actually, I was happy to see that those synapses are still intact.
Definitely would suggest you visit.
you two look adorable 🙂
What a lovely photo of you and tawn by the Eiffel Tower! Also it’s interesting to know they’re speaking more English, they finally caved in to Américanisation and globalism!