Monday, May 31, 2010

Forget Paris

I have to confess. I've never been to Paris. When we first arrived in France, with a newborn and a two year old, it just wasn't worth the bother and expense. We railed and backpacked to other major European cities, including Zurich. Enough said. Then the twins came along and....well, honestly, I prefer a vacation on the beach to time in the city. No matter the city.

How can I profess to love France when I haven't even spent a day in the city that considers itself her heart?

Dare I suggest that I know the real France, the countryside and everyday, rather than the face of the French to the world?

We are different than the made-up, spruced up, face we show in public.

From what I hear, the France most everyone else knows is rude and arrogant. Really? I can't even imagine. But then again, I've never been to Paris.

Americans complain that the French refuse to speak English with them. Well...honestly...we are in FRANCE, right?! Maybe try a little ''Bonjour''? It's not THAT hard to pick up some basic questions. But then again, I've never been to Paris.

I'd suggest asking for help after a German customer. You think the French don't like speaking ENGLISH?! My friends from aerobics class tell me you have never met an angrier person than a Frenchman confronted by a German who doesn't speak French. They didn't mention how they feel to the Germans who DO speak French though! (And I've got to admit here, I've never seen a country so willing to speak other languages than their own than the Germans. In fact, Americans often complain it is hard to learn German here, because there are always so many people willing to help out and speak English with them. And I know a large majority of them speak French too. So that I don't QUITE understand the problem with travel but....)

I've seen a woman at the Christmas market in Strasbourg give an American friend the cold shoulder as he was trying out his French on her. I was surprised. Maybe she thought he was German? I don't know. She responded to my French, which is far from good by now. And she was a she, so it wasn't the blonde hair and blue eyes that seem to make most Frenchman forgive any errors in pronounciation. (They don't seem to mind how Germans LOOK, just how we talk and act!)

In any case, I've never been to Paris. The France I know is local butchers and bakers and bankers and mothers....all smiling at the children, greeting me warmly, and happily helping me with my bumbling French.

I’ve never been to Paris. But I love the France I know without her make-up.


  1. I love reading your writing. I've had trouble getting into really reading other blogs, but I think you've got me hooked. It's official. And I agree - the French are friendly and laid back and warm in my experience, too. Even in Paris ;)

  2. Since we're forming a mutual admiration club - I read yours every time you post. It keeps me writing. Not a competition, just kind of like two people encouraging eachother. Not just kind of either. Like me building up a piece after your "Pieces Of Me" - oh yeah - and borrowing your fantastic line on strength coming from something broken. We can springboard from eachother - I believe that's what Writers' Groups - and friends - are for. See you Saturday!