Friday, January 2, 2009

Plus Ca Change, Plus c'est la meme chose

Parisians, including us, woke up this morning to find the streets of Paris covered with a light dusting of snow. When we left Ann Arbor, we expected a change in the weather, but instead we found the same snow (less of it) and cold temperatures.  

By midmorning, the snow was gone and the sun was shining on our geraniums, which are still in full bloom in the flower boxes outside our windows.  Either it was much warmer before we got here or our heat is leaking out the beautiful, but drafty French windows of our apartment.

Everyone in town is bundled up against the cold - in chic black, of course.  Long elegant scarves are wound tightly around their necks, but almost no one except us wears a hat, probably because it would muss up their beautifully coifed hair.  If I start having my hair done at Vidal Sassoon, I might go hatless too.
We spent our first full day in Paris shopping, mostly for  food. There were the basics, but since you can't live on bread alone, we also got wine, pastries and chocolate.  In a later post, I'll tell you about some of my favorite chocolate stores in Paris.  

People were out in force and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.  Since many Americans have told me that they've heard that Parisians are nasty, I'll tell you two short stories that I hope will help disprove that notion.  

At the airport in Philadelphia just before we boarded our U.S. Air flight, we talked briefly with a French couple.  On landing in Paris, we met them again in the baggage area.  While we waited for our luggage to arrive, we talked again. By the time we left the airport, they had invited us to get together with them.  We exchanged telephone numbers and we expect to see them soon.  

My next nice French person was the ticket vendor at the Metro station.  When I was buying subway tickets this morning, I left my gloves on the counter.  The guy who sold me the tickets ran down two flights of steps to return them to me.  "It's cold outside," he said.  "You'll need these."

So if you haven't been to Paris, don't believe all those stories you hear about the haughty French.  Their culture is a bit more formal than ours, but just like everywhere else, a smile goes a long way.  And, believe me,  there's a lot to smile about in Paris.

A bientot,

To view enlarged photos online, click here
 Photos by Geraldine Calisti Kaylor                                                 

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