You know more French than you think you do.
…until you’re in Paris and “grazie” comes out of your mouth when thanking the baker for your daily baguette. You look to your mom for help, even though just hours before she greeted the neighbor with “hola”. It is the traveler’s most common faux pas, I think, to suddenly forget common vocabulary.
Having my parents meet us in Paris was a real treat! Mom came in a few days ahead of dad, giving us plenty of time to catch up on the most minute details of life only girls remember, or care to talk about. We walked to Parc Monceau, reveling in the slow pace of the Parisian afternoon, then through Montmartre to Basilique du Sacre Coeur for a look at the gargoyles and the grandest view of Paris.
Once my dad arrived, we headed toward the city to see some of the major sites. Though we didn’t spend the money to eat like him, we did take a page from Anthony Bourdain’s book in making the most of our time in Paris: doing as little as possible. That isn’t to say we didn’t do a ton, though. We saw Paris largely on foot, winding our way through smaller neighborhoods, stopping for espressos and ice cream as an excuse to take up table space and people-watch. In these small moments lies the joie de vivre too many tourists overlook when visiting a city with the grandeur of Paris. We opted out of waiting in line for hours behind thousands of other tourists, and instead critiqued many sights from the ground level. If you’re going to travel halfway around the world, take your time to really see a thing. Don’t waste time and money to shuffle along with the melee of people, wishing with each breath more people had used deodorant, only to find the majority of your pictures are cramped with selfie-sticks and elbows.
If there’s one thing I was wishing to transplant to Phoenix, it was the public parks. There’s a certain je ne sais qoui in the frenchman’s inclination to lounge. I find it completely fantastic that this city offers so many great places to pull up a patch of grass, or a seat around a fountain, and just be. You can bring a picnic and a bottle of champagne, a guitar and a pack of brews, or your significant other and the base desire for some PDA. Anything goes in the parks of Paris. One of our favorite park features was the Ballon de Paris, a helium balloon used for taking weather and pollution readings, that visitors can take a ride in on a clear day.
Before we bid adieu to the City of Love, we visited the Louvre for a selfie with Mona Lisa, and added our own love locks to the Pont des Arts…just in time.
PS: There were 10 French words or phrases in this post (not including locations)…see? You know more French than you may have thought.