My first day in Paris today, and some stray observations occurred to me as I was wandering around the city in a jet-lagged haze.
1- Cheese is awesomely cheap, and so are bread products. Everything else is brutally expensive. But if I had to choose two things to be cheap, I would choose cheese and baguettes.
2- Bixi bikes are better than Velib bikes in every conceivable way. Velibs handle like boats and literally attempt to flee from you if you try to do anything but go in a straight line. The brakes are so bad that you can’t even skid the back wheel! Where’s the fun in that? Half of the appeal of bike sharing programs is abusing a property of the commons anyway.
3- There’s so much English spoken here, it feels like Montreal. In almost every interaction I had today, my counterpart would lapse into English. Even if they didn’t know any English words. They would just anglicize French words: “Please, uh, attend a moment.” Good thing I’m fluent in Franglais. Now, my French can be bad, especially when I’m jet-lagged and haven’t slept in 30 hours, and, well, it’s kind of poor in general, but I could barely speak two words before I’d see them nodding at me, a thin, pitying smile playing at their lips: “It’s OK little Anglo. Let me handle this.”
4- As a direct result of (3), I made a concerted effort to look as Parisian as possible. This consisted of adopting a blank, disinterested expression and generally ignoring all but the most attractive people, and then making a show of ignoring them more than the rest. It appears to have worked, as I was approached three times today by Parisians asking for directions. Though I don’t know how they make rejection look so damn sultry.
5- Paris might have the best sit-down-chill-out-and-look-at-stuff spots of any city I’ve been to. Hm… where to to eat my Boursin and baguettes tonight? Champs de Mars, perhaps? How about the Jardin de Tuileries? Or Montmartre? The Seine??? History feels like an old drinking buddy here. It’s virile. Across the whole world, Parisians have the most and best options for drinking wine outside.
6- Oh yeah, and wine… that’s cheap, too. Sweet Zombie Jesus, is it ever. I think that completes the ultimate Trinity of Cheap Things, no?