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Stray Observations About Paris, About French Culture

Bonjour! I didn’t have any place to put these thoughts so here is a list of a few random thoughts about the French, Paris, myself, America, and more. Á bientôt!

• Surprise: Europeans love Minions. Like, they wear them on shirts and they make cakes of them and they put them in clip art. “Mignon” in French means “cute” so maybe that has something to do with it. Also, Marion Cotillard voices Sandra Bullock’s role in the French version of the film. Maybe that has something to do with it?
• The French trailer for Minions is quite good. I want to be French so, duh, I want to see the movie now.
• People just walk around with bread. They aren’t taking their bread for a walk but people straight up are like, “Just bought a baguette: time to walk somewhere with it.” I’m not talking about baguettes and breads in bags: people straight up just carry that bread, in their hand, in front of them. The bread leads the way, like a carb staff. I love this.
• Lots of people had broken arms. Or hands. I couldn’t tell but there were lots of people with borked arm parts.
• European—Or French.—gay culture is very different. And kind of weird? I couldn’t really confirm that. They do have gay bars that are, as you’d expect, like anything else you find in the states but they also have cafés that are basically hijacked restaurants where gay men sit and judge you as you walk by. Then there are places like Cox, which our Airbnb dude recommended: it’s a place where men literally stand on the sidewalk and in the street and talk loudly. Gay men in Europe almost always look like they are ready for bondage too or look like Any Other French Man. They are a people of wonderful extremes.
• There are a lot of Chows, French Bulldogs, Terrier Mixes, and King Charles Cavaliers. Without a dog, I am always aware of all dogs around me. It’s an extra sense that I have. In Paris, those breeds seemed to be the dogs of choice and surprisingly so: Chows are so big; French Bulldogs seem like a stereotypes; Terrier mixes seem to bear Chihuahuas; and the King Charles Cavaliers seem to be squatters sent over from England. They were all very cute. I wanted every one of them.
• I also saw a few English Setters. You never see them in America! Dottie would fit in perfectly!
• Literally every block had a Kooples or a Zadig & Voltaire. There were also lots and lots of Kusmi Tea and A.P.C. stores, too. Parisians love that shit, I guess.
• The Scion iQ is just a Toyota in Europe. Obviously Scion is an American construct to sell otherwise normal cars that will be seen as weird in America. This is a great example of that. Americans just hate small cars! (We are the worst.)
• People smoke a lot. I love it and I hate it. I wish I could smoke as much as they do. I wish I didn’t just think of death whenever a cigarette touched my lips. I did not smoke a single thing my entire stay in the country. I am proud and disappointed in myself.
• Everyone speaks English! I was so mad! I took French lessons all Summer hoping to be challenged! No one wanted to speak in French! I would try and they would switch to English since they knew I was bad at it! That annoyed me! Where are the angry French people who are so proud of their mother tongue that they don’t speak English to anyone?!
• People actually do wear a lot of stripes, like French stereotype sailors. This is not a bad thing. I love striped sailor pullovers. I was bummed I left mine at home, though.
• There were a lot of people wearing shirts with American cities on them, specifically Californian cities. We saw a shirt that said Santa Monica, a shirt that said Los Angeles, a shirt that said San Francisco, and even a shirt that said Pasadena and another that said San Pedro. Okay?
• Velibs are great. Don’t take the train. Don’t walk. Take a bike. Take a Velib. Not having a helmet will stress you out—as will traffic circles—but you have to dive into it. This made the trip for me.
• Sometimes your bathroom isn’t with your shower and that’s cool. Our apartment in Los Angeles only has one bathroom and, as with most American living situations, the toilet and the shower are married together in the same room. In Europe? No, you probably have the two separated, the toilet literally secluded to a closet (hence the name). This is great! You know how many time I stress about needing to take a shit when Bobby is taking a shower? A lot. This side stepped that stool issue. I am crazy about poop, I know.
• People don’t use their phones. I loved this. People seemed so present and so “offline.” Maybe the Internet connection on phones there is shitty but, hey, no one seemed to be distracted by their device(s). I loved that. We Americans need to steal this idea. We won’t though. We fucking suck.
• They do something really cute in the Summer called Paris Plage where they bring the beach to the city. They literally install banks of sands on the side of the Seine. It is so cute. You should definitely go and walk past it as you stroll along the river.
• Duh: rosé and champagne are a lot cheaper by the glass, bottle, and in retail. We didn’t spend more than $30 on a bottle, anywhere—and some of these bottles we have paid more than $50 to get in the states! This is great. I love you, France.
• The tap water isn’t bad. I was surprised. It wasn’t like THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST but it didn’t make me go “Yuck! Bad taste! Swamp mouth!” after I imbibed.
• Bodies of water are jade green. Both the Seine and a few streams we saw while traveling had this jade green quality to them. It was pretty and weird and I bet they do not taste good.
• Beaches are weirrrrrddddd. We went for a night to Trouville/Douville on the West coast and the beaches are sooooooooo big with literally two miles from where the sand starts to where the water line begins. The sand is also super fine and doesn’t stick to you and is covered in broken seashells. I know this is probably just this one beach I went to but, man, was it a far cry from the shit beaches Los Angeles. The only commonality they had was cold water.
• A French 75 in France is still French 75. It’s not just a 75. Who knew?!
• French people love them they mojitos. It’s their Summer drink. They were everywhere! They’re good but rum definitely felt like a weird choice for the French. Hey: who am I to judge if they have some Miami taste in them?
• Macarons are great. We all knew this, though. I love macarons. They are the perfect dessert.
• Bagels are not the same. The feeling around bagels in Paris is that they are some sort of late night indulgent place. They are a snack food, like pizza. They seemed omnipresent and defied culinary time constraints. Everyone was indulging in them whenever they wanted.
• Can I live in Paris? I want to go back. I’m so anti-American now.

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