October 14, 2006

BG's Paris Diary: Week 1 + 2

As you may have gathered by now dear readers, I’m in Paris! So far, it has been FABULOUS. But the first few days were a total haze. I was jet lagged, I couldn’t understand a word of French (and that is all anyone seems to speak here. Whatever happened to English?) and nothing was opened (I arrived on a Sunday). The area I lived in was not what I imagined Paris to be, even their keyboards are different! I was completely shocked and confused. Now I know what a culture shock is.

But then, we stepped out of the St. Michel and Notre Dame station and found civilization. THIS was what I imagined Paris to be. We toured the Notre Dame, ate crepe and walked around the streets of Paris admiring the quaint streets and gorgeous architecture. It was bliss.

After that I finally learnt how to use the metro (which turns out to be SO much better than Chicago) and how to squeeze onto it in the morning, I mastered the art of communicating with a mixture of English, a few French phrases and sign language and all was good.

We visited 2 of the Chateaux de la Loire and they were beautiful. It really brings me back to the days when kings actually lived there and thought that colored tiles was a luxury (personally it looked like it belonged in a bath). It also amazes me that people were able to build such grand architecture so long ago, even this awesome double spiral staircase in the shape of a DNA that creates an illusion that someone is coming down the stairs but really they’re on the other staircase. There we also to see a quaint little village on the way and there was this really weird building that periodically had dragon heads come out the window. . . . strange.
Saturday, we went to Disneyland! The Halloween theme was up and it was fabulous even though it is nothing compared to Orlando. We went on some pretty cool rides, took loads of pictures, found McDonald’s (boy do we miss good ol’ American food) and of course, spent LOADS of time in the gift shops. Check out this remarkable imitation of Jack Sparrow on a cup, kind of creepy no?

As if Disneyland wasn’t enough for the day, we went straight back out for the once a year Nuit Blanche, where Paris is suppose to light up and be opened all night. We went to the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees. Check out the highlights: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Louis Vuitton store (which was opened till late and we even spied a little party going on at the top floor tents!).

But really, when they say all of Paris was opened they only meant certain stores like bars and car stores. We found this “drugstore” which sold Marc Jacobs, 150EUROs pillows and these really quite awesome socks for 34EUROs. And saw the “bat mobile” at the Peugot store. And whoever it was reponsible for organising this night was clearly out of their minds, the night transportation was beyond terrible! The infrequent buses were all full to bursting, the metro was closed and none of the cabs stopped. We ended up stranded in the streets of Paris (along with a hoard of people) all night until the metro started again at 530am! Definitely a night to remember.

In addition to all that, I've also explored Place d'Italie, the Louvre, Montparnasse, Chatelet, Luxembourg and Denfert Rochereau. Yes, I've had quite a week. But now I must go and pack for my weekend in London/Cambridge. A bientot!

46 Comments:

Blogger Cool Like Chloe said...

lucky you i love paris! i havent been there in so long! hope your having fun. ps great blog!

10/14/2006 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, no offense or anything...I like your blog, but why on earth should they speak english when YOU are in France. That's what preparation beforehand is for so you can communicate when you need to. I'm talking basic phrases too, not anything difficult.

And why wouldn't their keyboards be different? They have many different characters in their alphabet.

Nevertheless, it looks like you're having fun and I am supremely jealous. I've always wanted to go to France.

Au revoir.

10/14/2006 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no picture of the blogger?

10/14/2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Viva Las Divas said...

I hate the fact that nothing is open on sundays here. I'm sure it'll all change in a few years...I hope...
Enjoy London! I'm going there week after next as well.

10/14/2006 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Kaytee said...

Hey! Wow your time in Paris seemed amazing and memorable to say the least! I've been there once but I had never heard of the Nuit Blanche! Now I really want to go back for that! Probably have to build up a lot of energy for that night! All your Paris pictures make me want to go back TODAY! Both of those chateaus you visited I also visited when I was there and the Eiffel Tower, and Champs-Elysées! I miss it sooo much! I had the time of my life there and it sounds like you did too! Enjoy London!

10/15/2006 12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry - why would you be so surprised they were speaking so much French??? That's ridiculous and so US-centric...

10/15/2006 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Georgina said...

"I couldn’t understand a word of French (and that is all anyone seems to speak here. Whatever happened to English?)"

hahaha...um you are in France.

10/15/2006 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh..I believe some French people are billingual?

It's like saying people in USA only speaks English. I bet they can speak some other languages as well, though not the majority.

10/15/2006 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Carinna said...

Paris is amazing. I love it there, though I didn't really get to see it much. I was stuck in the hotel the whole time. Oh well, I hope to go there soon.

xx ; carinna

10/15/2006 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

theres a disney in Paris?

10/15/2006 2:35 PM  
Blogger Frapp said...

Oh poor you! Getting stranded until 5.30, that sounds awful! I went to Disneyland Paris a couple of years ago on Halloween, it was so much fun!

10/15/2006 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because ppl are bilingual does not mean they have to speak English. Can you imagine if the French went to the US and said I'm sure some ppl speak French so why don't they speak it to me?

I hope ppl are joking when they expect ppl everywhere to speak English to them just because they do. It is extremely ignorant, not to mention disrespectful to the other cultures. One should always make an effort to learn a few phrases (which I have been told is always appreciated by the locals).

This is not meant to be an attack on anyone but you should definitely keep this in mind when travelling as its comments like these that make other cultures roll their eyes and sigh "Americans!".

10/16/2006 10:17 PM  
Anonymous dhina said...

Hahha,,wishing people to speak ENGLISH when you're in PARIS? wish you luck!-no offense-
However, it seems that you had a lot of fun there. I do miss my time in Paris too. I was there on August, and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I didn't go to Disneyland. and I envy you for that!
By the way, how about the shopping? tell us more! what did you buy?

10/16/2006 10:22 PM  
Anonymous hanna said...

i was in paris at the same time. did you go to versaille? i really enjoyed my time OUTSIDE there.

the metro is definitely better than the "L" in chicago...

10/17/2006 8:57 AM  
Anonymous marie said...

Hello!
Just a few notes about the Nuit Blanche: it is a night with installations by artists everywhere in Paris, all night long (not primarily about shops opened all night).

About english speaking people, it's true that in France it's mostly the youth that speaks english (whe have to learn it at school for at least 5 years), but french people being a bit stubborn (i'm one, so i know what i'm talking about), some of them won't want to speak english, at least if you haven't tried to speak a little french.

And yay for Place d'Italie, that's where I'm living (Gobelins)!

10/19/2006 2:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you go to another country and expect them to speak YOUR language? No wonder natives have such distaste for ignorant foreigners.

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