Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reasons why I love it

I love Paris. Everyone who reads this blog knows that. It's pretty obviously. In the past, many people have asked me, sometimes with slightly disgusted faces, why I like Paris. "Isn't it dirty?" "Someone I know told me it smells." "Don't the French hate us?" "They don't even shave their pits." These comments/questions oftentimes come up in conversations involving Paris while in the United States. Yes, it is true, some people have had bad experiences over here. Maybe they were being loud and obnoxious and were treated badly by an annoyed Parisian. Or perhaps they don't enjoy being in large cities. Maybe they had to rush through the city and didn't get a change to really relax and soak it all in. Whatever. After all of the comments, I try to explain why I love being here. I explain that yes, it is dirty in some areas. Yes, sometimes it can definitely smell, especially people in the Metro. And yes, I am sure there are some that dislike Americans and don't shave their armpits. However, the same things could be said of many cities. Cities can be dirty in certain areas, some people stink, some people refuse to shave, and yes, I've met plenty of Americans who dislike the French. Their reason for disliking the French usually has something to do with the French disliking Americans. It's a vicious circle. I then tell them why I truly love it...the culture, the language, the architecture, the history, the food, etc. 

For myself, I decided to make a list of why I love Paris. During my time here, I'm sure I will continue to discover my reasons. Here is what I have from today's adventures. 

1) Beautiful churches everywhere. Today I went to the grocery store to get a few food items to keep in my room. As I walked down Boulevard Saint-Michel, I discovered that the only grocery store I knew of was not as close as I had originally believed. After a while, I came back to my room, went on the internet, etc., and decided I needed to get back outside and explore. My main goal was to find a closer grocery store. I quickly did and just kept walking. I then came to a famous horse fountain and turned down a street. I walked a little more and then came to a small alley, which after several twists and turns led me right to a beautiful church that I had never even heard of. Isn't it beautiful? 
It is called the Eglise du Val-de-Grace, which means something like "Valley of Grace Church." Anyway, I had never heard of it or seen it, and here it was, not a person around. It is from the seventeenth century. This is not the first time I have come upon a monument by mistake. It happens all of the time. In Paris, there are so many things to see that many things get left out to the average tourist trying to squeeze everything into a short period of time. 

2) Speaking French. This evening around ten o'clock, I decided to go to the terrace to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle. Every hour starting I think at 9 p.m. (maybe 10) it sparkles for a few minutes. It turns out that i was too late. However, as I sat there by myself in the dark staring at that beautiful golden tower and the rest of the glowing monuments visible from my rooftop, my mood quickly changed as a very kind Frenchman pulled up his seat next to me. Right away we started talking. He is from Cannes, "like the film festival," he told me in his thick French accent. For about an hour I spoke French with this guy who wanted nothing more than to practice his English and meet someone in a city where he knew few people. It was just fun to practice and he helped me with words that I did not know. I did the same for him. Anyway, I stayed up there long enough to see the tower sparkle at 11. It always takes my breath away. After the terrace closed, I came back down to my room feeling satisfied with my slight progress. Every little bit counts. I even learned a new French word that I still cannot pronounce. Scintillement. It apparently means "to sparkle."

I could go on all night about why I love Paris, but I think it might be more fun to add things with each encountered experience. 

4 comments:

une autre mère said...

I am totally re-living my Paris experience through you! Hope you don't mind... I too LOVE that city and all of the amazing little discoveries that you can make just by walking down the street. So much history and beauty! I also remember having a wonderful conversation with an old Frenchman by the Eiffel Tower and he helped me with a few words I didn't know. The French get such a bad rap, but I found that the friendly ones outnumbered the snobs.

Good memories. I'm so excited for you to make more!

madame niebs said...

hey betsy:) liz just told me about your blog and i'm gonna read it just as soon as i finish writing out my 8th grade syllabus. i'm very excited about your year ahead. i'm so happy for you and keep thinking that i should be writing this en francais, but my french keyboard has to be redone. i look forward to your insight and hope to see you sometime soon if the chance arises.
toutes mes amities, madame

Gabrielle said...

Betsy!
Thanks for sharing your Paris with us! What you wrote is wonderful, you just made me fall in love with Paris again :-) As I'm French, I realise that I sometimes don't even see all the wonders around me anymore. Too bad!
Keep writing about Paris!
Gabrielle

Gabrielle said...

Betsy!
Thanks for sharing your Paris with us! What you wrote is wonderful, you just made me fall in love with Paris again :-) As I'm French, I realise that I sometimes don't even see all the wonders around me anymore. Too bad!
Keep writing about Paris!
Gabrielle