The Parisian Myth

Hello All,

I have been back in Paris for over 6 weeks now, and have been loving every minute of my journey. No, I still have not found the house or apartment that I want to buy to turn in to a Bed & Breakfast, but I have been having an excellent experience. I have travelled around more of the French country than I have ever seen. I have tasted new food, seen new exhibits and visited new places that keep me in awe of this beautiful country. Although, the countryside of France is not the same as Paris, just like the countryside of the US is not the same as New York city. The problem is that Paris gets a very bad rap for being inhospitable to non-Parisians.

When I speak to people in the States about my living in Paris, or even about my holidays to Paris, I am always saddened by their misconceptions of Paris and the Parisian people. “Parisians are all rude!” “They don’t like foreigners!” “They hate Americans!” “Parisians are just mean and inconsiderate!” First of all, this can be said about many major city in the world. I myself don’t like tourist anywhere I live or visit. This is usually because the tourist walk so slow and hold me up when I’m trying to get somewhere. Even when I lived in the states I wasn’t fond of Americans…so much “American pride” which is really Jingoism at its worst. What do Americans have to be proud of? Stealing the land from Native Americans, and the ongoing horrible treatment of them since? Buying African slaves, treating them horrible and continuing racial prejudice against them to this day? Oh, perhaps its Freedom. Because anyone who says “America is the land of the free,” obviously has never been to a country where people aren’t free. How are Americans more free than many other countries? Because we have to pay corporate companies more money than we earn for health insurance? Lucky US. Perhaps it is the fact that your tax dollars are going to bail out banks, politicians and worst of all that psychotic, wig-wearing, orange moron.

Parisians are no more rude or mean than any other city dweller. In France, it’s polite to start with a “Bonjour, Madame” or “Bonsoir, Monsieur” before you start asking random questions. If a French person went to a restaurant in Dallas and started speaking in French waiting for an answer, and the American stared blankly at them, the French Person would be in the wrong. So many times however, I see many American tourist just expect anyone around them to speak English. They don’t say hello, they don’t explain that they do not speak French, they just want to know where is McDonalds…STOP!! Yes, many other cultures and countries around the world teach a second language, America is not one of them. Not because everybody should speak English, that’s rubbish. France is much better equipped to work internationally because of better education and speaking more than one language. So if you are an American going on Holiday anywhere around the world, learn a few lines in the language that is native their.

When I started this adventure 6 weeks ago, I was nervous because of all of my train trips I would be taking. The first morning however, I was lucky enough to have a very kind woman from SNCF (The Société nationale des chemins de fer, or National society of French railways) help me out. Even on the trains the stewards and porters have been helpful and even friendly. I took SNCF probably 20 times crossing the country over and over and never once did I have a bad experience.  When I show the porters my Eurail Pass, it is required that I show my passport as well, so that they can verify my name. (Side note: If you are over age 26, don’t get a Eurail Pass. It would be less expensive to just buy the tickets at the station.) The porters, after learning that I am American, had mixed reactions. One told me that he thought I was French because I didn’t act like a tourist. Another went from speaking French to me to speaking English and asking me about my journey and what I had planned. I can honestly say that the French Rail Service has proved to be exceptional and, until I go to Asia, will rank highest for me amongst train. (Other side note: Amtrak, is the worst and the lowest.)

Being back in France, I have been lucky enough to catch up with my Parisian friends and get to really reconnect with them. It has been great catching up with old college friends over dinner and drinks. Or hanging out until the wee hours of the morning with some of my bar friends. Along with my old friends, I am grateful to have already made new friends as well in Paris. Meeting people can be difficult, especially in a new country. I have been lucky however since my Parisian friends introduce me to their friends. Also, its nice to just strike up a conversation with a stranger at a bar. You can meet very interesting people this way, they are not all going to be great, but you could get lucky and make a new best friend. I enjoy just hanging out with these people and making new friends and memories. Some of these French guys actually watch American tv shows. One bartender asked me if I could help him translate “Xena: Warrior Princess” for his own website. I apologized to him, but I have never seen the show and don’t really know if I would be the best person to translate the random English words(if they even are English) in to French for him. This has been what I have done every time I have moved to a new city, be it Boston, San Francisco, New York and Paris, I have always had good luck at meeting new people.

Assuming Parisians are rude is akin to assuming all Texans wear cowboy hats and ride horses, or all Bostonians speak with that dreadful accent. I have never seen a French person wearing a beret, aside from those in the armed forces that patrol the city to keep it safe. Yes, some Parisians smoke, but not all of them. To answer your question: No, Parisians are not rude, snobbish or mean they are just like every other city dweller. They do demand respect and politeness, as should be given when going to a new place. If you A) Show that you have tried to make an attempt at their language. B) Don’t act like the stereotypical bad tourist. and C) Remember that they are human beings too, you will enjoy yourself in Paris just as much as I do.

Merci d’avoir lu mon blog.

à tout alors!

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