More Random Observations from Paris

Oh, yes, I have more.

The taxi drivers in Paris, like in most places, are pretty casual dudes. One we engaged for a quick ride to a restaurant one evening was really remarkably nonchalant, as only a Parisian could be. At one point during our journey he started talking to a guy on a motor scooter. Not while we were stopped at a traffic light, mind you. The taxi driver and the motor scooterist were having a conversation while we driving down the middle of a very busy boulevard, at speed. As best we could surmise our driver was apparently giving directions to the scooter rider, hand gestures and all. It was an impressive, and slightly disturbing sight.

Window displays in Paris really are an art form. Just don’t ask for what’s in the window since it seems they don’t actually stock those particular items. Parisian shops don’t have sales – they just entice you inside with displays of things you can’t have.

On this trip we discovered kouign-amann. The first few days we noticed that they were specifically included in the pastry basket at breakfast, but we didn’t try them because we were trying valiantly, and yet ever so foolishly, to be somewhat prudent and reserve the majority of our calories for the evening meal. Then one day, on a tour of the delights of Parisian food shopping, we were told about these things, these wonderful little pastries, and after tasting one discovered that the three previous days that we hadn’t been eating the kouign-amann were all a sham, a dreadful waste of time. Time that we could have been eating kouign-amann. From that point on we spent most of our time trying to cram as many of these pastries in our mouths and pockets as possible. But alas, the sad day inevitably arrived wherein we had to depart this fair and splendored land, and a shining city where kouign-amann could be procured from select neighborhood patisseries. Perhaps it was for the best, as I fear by this point we would have sold all of our worldly possessions had we stayed just so we could devour just one more kouign-amann.

Parisians have many nice qualities. They’re very stylish, much more so than Americans. Public drunkenness seems to be rather frowned upon (unlike say London where it has become something of a lifestyle choice). And of course they make and sell kouign-amann, and thus they are in the running for the greatest people in the world, ever. But if there’s ever a competition, Parisians are going to lose out on the basis of the cigarette butts. They still smoke incessantly – just not indoors, at least most of the time. In the mornings the streets and sidewalks are freshly swept but by early evening the butts start to mount up into some quite alarming drifts. And you constantly have to sidle through large groups standing out on what passes in Paris for a sidewalk (in this country we’d call it a curbstone), puffing away quite industriously. From our observations the amount of work that is apparently performed inside in an office in France probably doesn’t much exceed twenty or thirty minutes a day.


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