So finally, how much ever I dreaded doing this, I’ve sit down to get over with it. Why would I dread writing a blog? Well to describe Paris would be impossible for anyone, let alone in this kind of limited space and ofcourse not in my capability. The city surpasses any description that you’ve read in Lonely Planet or seen on documentaries or movies. Its just the beauty that knocks you over, and makes you feel this cannot be earth. No wonder the (belligerent) Germans wanted to destroy it, the
(jealous) British ridiculed it and the (hopeless) Americans tried to copy it. Thank god all of them failed. Now I won’t embaress my self, or do injustice with Paris by describing its monuments, however I will write a few quiry things about the city and some important notes for the visitor. Actually I’ll do this in two parts, first the quirky things and then a little bit about what to see etc. So here goes…
Now why such high praise for Paris. Everything about it is like a fairy tale. The monuments, patesseries, dressing sense of people, public facilities, everything. The best part though is that walking in Paris is an absolute treat. Infact I’ve walked in excess of 60Kms in 4 days, and that’s when I din’t do anything much of the Louvre. My legs are hurting badly, but you never feel it while walking. The locals love to walk (as quite a lot of the city is a no traffic zone and parking is extremely expensive), the tourists come to walk, and the city has all the facilities for it. Infact every road (even the main roads) have bike paths exclusively for cycles and broad footpaths.
The much feared metro is not all that diffcult to use. Infact I found it quite a breeze and the maps (both fixed and take away) available freely at every station make life quite simple. The maps are ubiquitous with every station or tourist attraction offering you to chose from a range of about 12 -15 maps. Also by Parisian standards the metro is very cheap. Now I don’t agree to the general perception that Paris is expensive. I would say it is frighteningly extortionate. For example you’ve NO public drinkingwater. You’ve to buy and it costs about 2 euros (as much as a small coke). Laundry is about 5 euros, a basic sandwich (which is just absolutely cold berad with a thick block of cheese) 4 euros, a basic meal at a decent resteraunt (not basic as McDonalds/Subway, neither a flashy brasserie) about 20 euros. As they say, all good things come at a price. So 6 euros a day for unlimited travel on the metro is not a lot.
Now a bit about the Parisians. The first thing you would notice is that how bloody well dressed everyone is. The men are extremely fashion conscious and about the women nothing enough could be said. Its almost as if the gendermarie is tasked to weed out all ugly dressed people out of the city. Ah the gendarmerie. The best dressed police force there is on the planet. And big show offs they are too. And the police is on cars, motorbikes,cycles and even skates!!! As much of Paris is a traffic free zone, they have to patrol on bicyles or skates, and its pretty cool. Along with that they do a bit of showboating as well, putting on an impromptu show.
Parisians are fanatic about courtesy. Every conversation starts with a “Bonjour” and ends with “Merci”. I mean everything, ticket counters, food desks, museums, if you ask directions, bars, policy everyone. Hell, I’m sure even if they come to bash your head, they follow the drill. Bonjour – BANG – merci. Well bash your head they well, if you don’t return the courtesy in kind. Well not bash but certainly be prepared for disgusting looks if you do not follow the code.
And they love their wine. One evening when I was exhauseted and returned to the hostel early by about 9pm. The hostel owner suddenly turned up with some wine, called all of us sitting in the lobby out on the footpath. There they had laid out a few tables and some eats. Finally we all had a small wine party right on the footpath in the evening! The funny thing though was that there were 2 French, 1 Spanish, 2 Portugese, 2 Germans, 1 Italian and 1 Inidan. Nobody seemed to know the other’s language but somehow we managed Maybe UN should take some tips on International discussions from hostel Jules Ferry in Paris.
Well that’s about a few quirks of Paris in real short. Tomorrow in part two I’ll try to describe a bit of what to see (and what not) and what is so enchanting about the city. Till then au revoir and let the comments coming
Oops (almost forgot)