Just returned from Paris!

It was a bit of an eye-opener for me and I felt the need to write down my thoughts on...

Paris is a place I’ve always wanted to go to thanks to its glamorization in Sabrina, Amelie, Ratatouille, and Midnight in Paris.  Finally, after putting it off for many years, I went with Jared. All in all, it was a good experience but not the dream trip I thought it would be. It's not completely a bad thing, but a humbling learning experience with the realization that I don’t really fit in there. Paris is beautiful/charming, and yet, it is a place like any other. It has it’s special monuments, history, beauty, flaws, and normal people living within it.

Flight: Air France Premium Economy - worth the extra money to me. On the way, Jared and I were sat at the emergency exits. There was a ton of room in front of us so no claustrophobia there! Perks: special boarding line so you get on ahead of others, slightly better side dishes, instant bottled water and a little makeup bag containing items like toothbrush, socks, and sleep mask. On the flight home we were seated behind another row but the placement of the monitor/tables were better. We experienced our share of airport delays though.

Our Apartment: Jared and I rented an apartment on Rue de Rivoli (Marais 4th). It was a great location and very quiet (the apt faced away from the main street). We were walking distance to a few Franprix (grocery stores) and able to quickly make our way to any attraction. Only rough night of sleep for me was a Saturday night, Parisians party loud.

Food: Jared and I are not huge foodies but that didn’t stop us from going out and experiencing some great eats. We cooked about half of our meals in the apartment and ate out mainly in the 4th and 5th arrondissments. Restaurant Highlights: Le Lutetia. La Cooperative, Boulangerie Heurtier, Little Café, Aux Desirs de Manon, Miss Manon.

Attractions: We pretty much visited most of the famous Paris spots: The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Arc de Triomphe, Jardin du Luxembourg, Galeries Layfayette, and Notre Dame to name some. I couldn’t help but geek out and visit film locations for some of the movies I mentioned above too! Our favorite area to visit was the Latin Quarter and it was even better at night! I really enjoyed crossing the many bridges of the River Seine.
As seen in Midnight In Paris, The Devil Wears Prada, Louvre, Versailles
Language and People: I think I came to Paris knowing a bit more French than the average English-speaking tourist. We got by but it wasn’t without its frustrations… and mocking. I recommend learning much more then “hello,” “thank you,” and “do you speak English?” I found that the men (all ages) were pretty nice and patient with me trying to speak French. As for the women, the younger ones were nice but the older ones weren’t. I encountered older Parisian women trying to cut me/and get pushy in line. Another one was making fun of me to her friend because I have having some trouble understanding the salesman. Ballsy considering she was mocking what I said in French so obviously I’d know what she was saying.

Unexpected finds:
-Destruction des Animaux Nuisibles….ya know…Ratatouille! Quite disturbing.
-Lots of musicians performing in the metro.
-Jared and I met a man from Ohio vacationing here while doing laundry. Nice change of pace to have that familiarity.
-The inside of Shakespeare and Co. (almost like in Harry Potter)
-Love locks on the Pont de l’Archeveche.
-Armed military men around sites like Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower.

Pickpocketing: It is indeed very bad there and one of the reasons I’m hesitant to return. To have to have that feeling of always being on guard is annoying. Jared and I encountered pretty much all the popular scams we read about. I had a very close call of around 5-6 teenage boys huddling up around me with fake clipboards trying to open my purse and getting grabby. Even though I wasn't suckered into signing a fake petition and yelling "Non!", the boys were well on their way to assaulting me. They wouldn't leave me alone until Jared got involved. Gals (and guys with bags), I found that it was a good idea to have a purse as a decoy. Try to not have your camera out too much. I had pockets installed inside my jacket and all my valuables were in there. They'd go for the purse first. Also, you can yell, "voleur!" (means thief). Unfortunately, they still believe in the stereotype of Asians being the "rich" target. So strike 1: Asian, strike 2: female, strike 3: camera in sight. See the girls behind me? I knew what they were up to so I turned around and walked towards Jared and he took this pic. I like to think my expression was "That's right, go for the purse, there's enough used Kleenex in there for ya."
Attempted scammers  ---------------- No Sudden Movements
Some disappointments:
-The season. It was pretty cold throughout the trip, maybe one or two warmer days. Unfortunately the weather decided to change on us and rain on our Versailles day. Regardless, there were still a lot of tourists! Many fountains were off, it was too cold to people watch from a cafe.
-The markets. We went Rue Cler, Marche Baudoyer, and Le Marche Art & Creation Bastille. Don’t know if we just went at a bad season but they were pretty underwhelming in size and stock.
-The pickpockets everywhere, beggers, and bad smells. You have to watch where you step.

So to end it here, I’d still recommend people to visit Paris but would advise them to be prepared beforehand, especially when it comes to expectations. It’s disappointing to realize you’re not much of a fit-in for a place you thought was ideal. However, it’s reminded me of the nice comfortable home and place I’ve made for myself here in California. I won’t be visiting Paris again anytime soon, but I suppose that’s best for the both of us. :-)