Aero: Christine Elizabeth – France 2015 – City Life
Aero: Christine Elizabeth – France 2015 – City Life
Paris Paris oh How I love you! Honestly, where do I begin? I have dreamed of going to Paris since I was a child. The city of lights, the music, the fashion, the castles, the food, and not to mention the Eiffel tower! The city of love! What a dream come true to be able to say that I finally made it to this city, walked the streets, rode the subway and ate the food in this luxurious place.
Upon arrival my first impression was sort of a dull one, only because it was so early in the morning, and most of our crew of our students and professors were dead tired from the flight to Paris. I had expected in my mind’s eye for Paris upon my arrival to be flooded with lights and filled with the noise of busy bodies just as I had experienced in NYC when I used to live there. That however was NOT what I experienced at all. On the contrary when we arrived in the airport the silence that fell upon the place was so intense you could hear a pin drop. Whether it was because of the long journey to Paris that had people in the airport in customs so quiet, or because that is the culture of French people, to just be quiet out of respect for others, I have no idea, but I felt like I was in a library. Very hush hush. Customs and security was very different than that of the USA. In the USA you can smile and joke with security officers and customs and they will reciprocate the majority of the time. Here in France they are very serious and do not take their jobs lightly. Therefore there is to be no joking or horsing around these people, jokes and small talk are not encouraged.
In order to get to our hotel we had to take the metro. That was an interesting experience for me because I recall the familiarity of looking out the window as we were on the train and noticing a lot of graffiti on the sides of streets and buildings as we flew by. I also noticed many areas that reminded me very much of Harlem and Brooklyn in NYC. The train map consists of number and letter trains, very similar to NYC, and very easy to understand as I knew how to read subway maps from my many years of living in NYC. Again however the silence on the subway dumbfounded me. I guess I couldn’t comprehend how there could be so many people in one train car and no talking! It was a whole new experience for me. I was delighted to hear one time however, a musician who came into our train car later on that week, and played his guitar beautifully and asked for money. Very similar to NYC subways where musicians and artists of sorts play and perform in and on subway stations, platforms and train cars to make money. That definitely brought a smile to my face.
The streets in Paris are very narrow, and I didn’t notice barely any trucks let alone definitely no 16 wheeler cargo type trucks like we see in the USA. Many people have mopeds or bikes which they use to get around. There are multiple ATM’s everywhere so as to have easy access to your money so that you can utilize the opportunity to shop at any given moment. The streets are very clean, not polluted with garbage much like NYC. There are many boutiques (shops) and patisseries (bakeries) almost on every corner. The smell of fresh bread, chocolate and cheeses fills the air as you walk the streets. The majorities of the buildings are made up of very old architecture, gothic medieval style, made with bricks and elaborate designs and simple windows. Skyscrapers are not prevalent here, and the only one that they do have in the whole city of Paris was fought over even being built, because the Parisians were disputing its purpose and how it would not fit into the look of the city because it wasn’t going to look traditional like the other buildings.
The food was delicious! So many different types of food in such a short distance. The place where we resided in Paris was called, Place Monge, and within this area you could find Indian, Latino, Asian, and French food. Very much having the feel of downtown Manhattan in NYC, where all of those types of ethnic foods were found. The great thing I loved about the food was how you could pay about $12-13 and get a three course meal! An appetizer, entrée and dessert, and they were by no means small! The food was delicious and fresh, and usually served right away with a very short wait time.
Previously I had heard when I was in America, from many friends and others, that the French are mean and rude. I decided not to believe it until I would see it for myself. Which in fact I only saw twice, once when a woman wanted to walk past our group in the street, she budged by and complained about us not moving, and the other was when we were walking over the bridge on the sennes and a random man walked down the road yelling, ranting and raving some sort of anger about something. Besides that, all of the Parisians I came into contact with were super friendly, courteous, helpful, and willing to help me in whatever my endeavor was.
Paris was amaaaaazing! We visited so many places I can’t even begin to describe them all because then this would turn into a novel, and not an article. However I will say two of the most enjoyable times I had in Paris were when we visited the Eiffel tower, and on our walk past them we spotted these little go cart bikes for kids and me and a couple other classmates got on them and raced in the track. That was soo much fun and so silly, as well as random. The second most enjoyable time was when we took a boatride at night on the sennes river to see the Eiffel tower as well as other parts of the city along the riverside. Though when we saw the Eiffel tower I began to cry because I realized I was finally living my dream and I was finally here in the place I had dreamed about my whole life, seeing the one monument I had only seen from pictures and movies. It kind of just hit me as a big reality check, and I was very grateful at that moment to be able to have the opportunity to make my dream come true and go to France.
The majority of time I enjoyed shopping in the market for foods and scarves, as well as I loved dining with my classmates and professors in different restaurants and just enjoying our time and experience together. Paris was very much like NYC in many ways, yet different but all in all, an experience I will never forget.