So I’ve been here a day. But some notes on Paris:
1.) Paris is filled, and I mean FILLED with Americans. They are concentrated in obvious places – like around Notre Dame. But they truly are everywhere. I have heard almost as much English (and mostly American English) as I have French. This strikes me as odd and has cheapened my experience so far. Yes, I want to be the only one here. But apparently some memo went out to all upper-middle class Americans that they should take their kids to Paris as soon as school is out. And they have obliged. Either the French have abandoned the city this week, they are hiding, or they are simply overwhelmed and keeping their mouths shut. I suspect that those who went in the opposite direction to me do not wonder, “where are all the Americans in New York?!?” Indeed, I suspect my nostalgia for a French France is probably a particularly American variety.
2.) I’m going to say it… So far I have been disappointed with the food. Keep in mind I’ve been here a day, and eaten two meals. But honestly, I could take it or leave it. I’ll keep you posted on this. But right now, Parisien food tastes exactly like it did ten years ago (to me, at least). And this makes it feel kind dowdy. French food is now mostly a technique to the rest of the world. The Parisien flavors in particular seem stuck in the 1970s.
3.) All of this is to say that I’m slightly disappointed (and really, only slightly, please don’t take this as me snottily complaining, “oh, boo, hoo, I’m in France, and it’s not unbelievably awesome…”). And I think part of the reason is that I’ve become provincial. I like America. New York in particular. But actually lots of its regions – my recent trip to Wisconsin made me realize how much I like it there. I think I’m becoming a provincial American. I may even be becoming a provincial New Yorker. New Yorkers tend to think that since they’re from one of the most metropolitan cities on earth they can’t be provincial. But oh is that untrue. Some rarely leave a ten block radius. Queens? where is that? I actually have found that they can be some of the most provincial folks around. And I may be becoming one. This worries me.
4.) The center of the city is not very diverse. Not at all, in fact. People have been staring at me. I’m not sure if this is because, with my beard, I look slightly North African, or if it is simply because I am fat. Though the French are now much fatter than they were. So I suspect they’re more used to people like me. And I’m not THAT fat. And given all the other Americans around, I don’t think it’s because I was wearing white running shoes (a dead give-away). I think it is because I look Arab-ish. I’ll keep you posted on this too.
5.) There is much less dog shit on the streets. This is much appreciated.
6.) I’m actually here for work. So I have to get to that!
I like how this is now a travel blog.