Okay, so I’ve been in Paris a few days now and there’s a few things that I’ve taken notice of. And I decided that I wanted to write about it so, I am. Okay, let’s see.
Gold. Holy frigging crap. I don’t know if it’s France as a whole or just the city of Paris, but I swear they’re kind of obsessed with gold. It’s everywhere. Versailles is drowning in gold (gold gates, gold doorways and ceiling, gold accents, etc). And then there’s the gold statues at the Pont Alexandre III bridge. And at the entrance to le petit palais. It’s all over the place. I know, that some of you are going to aruge “well, Paris is an old city where they acquired a lot of gold things over time”. So? It’s still a lot of gold.
Affection. The French are very affectionate with each other. And no, I’m not talking about how they greet each other with the kisses on the cheek–that’s social custom and part of the culture. I mean more like the couples. They’re not afraid to show simple displays of affection. Like walking down the street holding hands. Okay, so there were two couples in particular that went a little farther. One was making out on the street and another on an escalator. But for the most part, it’s just holding hands or touching in some way as they go about their daily lives. Aurelie and I went to the movies last night and saw Brave VO (voice original, meaning it was in English with French subtitles) and there was a young couple in the row in front of us. The guy kept his hand on the girl’s knee most of the time. It’s very different than in the US. I don’t know if it’s because there’s not as many couples that show subtle PDA or if US couples that do show affection in public just go a tad overboard and the end result is very sickly sweet. Over here though, it’s endearing. By far the most interesting and in some ways, sweetest show I’ve seen are the couples walking around Paris that just link pinkies. Not hands, just pinkies. It shows that they’re very secure with themselves and with their relationship, that they don’t feel the need to show it off. It’s a very different kind of affection than what is in the US.
Puma. Everyone here it seems like has Puma things, be it shoes, sweatshirts, or bags. Yet I still have not seen one Puma store for all that I walked literally all over Paris yesterday. Aurelie and Alex each have a pair of Puma shoes and Alex has Puma socks. A guy at Chaak (apparently it’s a new Mexican place in Paris. Think Chipotle) last night had on a red Puma sweatshirt. It’s very popular. If it’s not Puma, than it’s usually Adidas like the smooth-soled soccer shoes Jared’s had before.
Sandals and Flip-Flops. Okay, so on this one Mom was half-right. Really, only the tourists wear flip-flops. Alex has a pair but I don’t know if he wears them much outisde of the apartment. I’ve seen one or two guys wearing rainbows that I couldn’t immediately tell if they were tourists or not but for the majority, it’s sneakers: Puma, Adidas, Converse, etc. The girls on the other hand, there are quite a few who have sandals. Gladiator, the studded rocker-ish ones, T-strap, etc. So those seem to be fairly popular. They also wear a good number of ballet flats and sneakers. Aurelie showed me a store that sells exclusively ballet stuff. Apparently the ballet shoe and style is starting to get really popular. I was surprised to see some girls/women wearing wedges or heels. Wedges I could see over heels just because they’re a bit more comfortable (I think) and it’s a thicker heel so not all of the support is in the heel. But I guess these women are used to walking all over in heels. We saw a few women walking around Versailles in strappy heels. No thank you. That place is huge.
Style. European style is definitely different from US style. In the US, you see people very put together and people who are clearly having a lazy day and are wearing jeans and a T-shirt or sweats. Not so in Europe. Everyone is wearing clothes that fit and definitely no sweats in public. There are always the outliers but for the most part that’s how the majority dress. The guys still wear jeans and t-shirts but the fit is different, it’s all a slimmer cut and fits a little tighter than what we usually see in the US. And I’m not talking skinny jeans. They’re jeans are more form fitting but they’re not as bad as skinny jeans, more like a slimmer regular cut. Girls have form fitting jeans and cute tops. Some wear dresses or skirts but it’s still very cute and fashion-y. I don’t think I’ve seen a girl wear a t-shirt yet in public (tourists being the exception) unless it was a plain shirt with a cardigan or vest or something which still makes it fashion. No one wears shorts. There may be a few but for the most part, people here wear jeans. Not many guys wear shorts. If they do it’s the slim kind of khaki shorts (in different colors obviously). Definitely no cargo shorts. Girls, if they do wear shorts it’s typically with leggings or tights underneath them. Any capris are cut to an inch or so under the knee, making them an awkward length for US style but very European otherwise. Really glad that I only brought one t-shirt with me.
People on the street. This is perhaps one of the things I’ll have to get used to the most. No smiling, no waving, no eye contact. Any of that is considered rude to a Frenchie. Which is a tad ironic. They kiss cheeks to say hello and good-bye and their idea of personal space is different than ours–our personal bubble usually extends about a foot or so past our person, in France it’s maybe half that. Despite this, they find it invasive if you smile at them or catch their eye as you pass them on the street. They consider that an invasion of personal space. Being raised in the South, smiling and such is more or less instinctive for me. At the very least it’s an automatic reflex. So it’s a bit weird having to think “don’t do anything. don’t smile that at person, etc” while Aurelie and I are walking around. It’s even harder on the bus or metro where you’re in a confined space and there’s not much else to look at besides the other passengers.
Markets. I went with Aurelie and Alex to the market yesterday morning and loved it. Everything is fresh and there’s so many choices. You can try the fruit or the cheese before you buy it and they have about five times the choices of meat and cheese that we do. At least. There’s also fresh seafood that you can buy and there was a stand that you could buy crepes at either to take home for later for to eat for breakfast. Aurelie and I each got a gaufre (waffle) for breakfast from there. And the stand owners joke around with the customers and it’s a nice, bustling atmosphere. Most of the stands and a lot of restaurants too, have a portable credit card thing that we don’t have. The little pad that cashiers have you type in your PIN number on in the US? It’s basically one of those but smaller and it’s portable. There’s a slot at the bottom where you slid in your card and then punch in your PIN and everything and then when it’s gone through you remove your card et voila! you’re done.
I think that’s all I’ve got for now. That’s the big things that I’ve noticed since being here. Now to start on what I’ve actually done the last two days or so.