I feel bad for born and bred Parisians, they never get to experience Paris for the first time. I’m sure they can appreciate the charm and magnificence of the city, but they never have an inaugural car ride from the airport. Zooming past the Arc de Triomphe, feeling their breath catch as they see the Eiffel Tower from a distance. Parisians, for all their confidence and effortless style, never experience being fundamentally blown away by their city for the first time.
On the other end of the spectrum is me. Though I lack their chic clothes and old world grace, I have the good fortune to be able to intrude on their city for one year. Smiling like an idiot at the Hausman facades, standing in awe at the top of Notre Dame, I am soaking up every bit of this glorious city from a tourists perspective, because thats what I am.
The content for Paris tourists is obbsessively dominated by one subect; “How Not to Look Like a Tourist.” In no other city are travelers as preoccupied with pretending to be locals. The French are so intimidatingly confident and the language so difficult for beginners that its natural to want some tips on how to blend. Parisians have a reputation for being cold and unfriendly, but I have yet to experience such a person. I’ve found that after following a few simple rules, (always say ‘Bonjour’ when entering a store, speak as much French as you can before using English, take some pride in your appearance) that Parisians are friendly, warm and helpful. I think its silly to try to be Parisian when I am so plainly not. I plan to embrace my expat status and enjoy Paris as what I am: a (courteous) visitor.
Paris is thrilling and thouroughly maddening. I feel like a magent whose polarization has been reversed. At home, I seemed to repell everything I wanted, in Paris I find I am surrounded by abundance and new experiences. So far I’ve only dipped my toe into what Paris has to offer. I’ve seen the city from the top of Notre Dame, I’ve watched the Eiffel Tower glitter at night, I have eaten more cheese in the last eleven days than in the previous eleven years. I’ve fallen in love about 50 times (and by fallen in love I mean noticed a handsome man, vehemently avoided eye contact and hurried past). I spent a glorious weekend at my host-familiy’s weekend home in Normandie where I rode a donkey, hiked through the forrest, caught frogs with my bare hands and heard a gosh darned rooster crow at dawn. The country house in Nomandie is where the family breeds and raises race horses. My inner 12 year old self was almost as excited as my 26 year old self.
So much to cover. The difficulties with language, my wonderful host family, my struggle to make friends, but there is plenty of time to cover all of it. Well, there is one year.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure!