Posted by: Brad | January 25, 2011

La Première Semaine

So instead of talking about how my navigation around the city is going (because I get lost every other trip out), I think it would more enjoyable to write about everything that is different from life in the United States.  During orientation the other day we learned about safety in the bad neighborhoods the city. Which was all good and fine, but then we learned about bad buildings in the city, pick pocketing in the city (did you know most of them are little girls next to the turnstiles in the metro?), bad metro stops in the city, program students who have been stabbed, the night bus which is really safe (that’s sarcasm), and FAKE CAB DRIVERS!!! Once we finished the talk on how safe Paris is, the program had a three-course lunch planned for us.  All of us more than welcomed it after a long and morose orientation session on safety. We had asparagus salad, duck, potatoes cooked in the duck fat, and this awesome dessert tray full of fruit and pastries.  Of course wine and bread accompanied everything. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the duck. It was mild and went really well with the red wine they served. I was also surprised by the fact that the restaurant was fairly low key. It was just another café, but it was SO GOOD!!! The first thing that is different about Paris- you can find great French food all over the city at any price! No Whoppers and french fries here. They have duck and seasoned potatoes. haha My other personal favorite difference is the French grocery stores. If you’re not from Paris and want to blend in to the culture… Don’t go grocery shopping. In Paris, they don’t bag your groceries. In fact they don’t even have bags. You have to buy the bag and then put all your purchases in it yourself. Most Parisian women have these rolling canvas bags that they shop with, and most other people just buy these things that look like large sturdy Ziplocs that go around your shoulder, or they carry a backpack. It’s almost impossible to buy in large quantities because you’re taking care of the whole transportation process. I think that most people go to the store every day to get what they need for their meals.  Another thing that is different is the way that men dress. They definitely fit the stereotype.  If you don’t wear a scarf they can instantly tell your American. (for example they just give you a menu in English) So I guess I need to get several more to blend in with them.  My other personal favorite difference is how the French deal with waiting in lines. Let’s face it- we all hate waiting in lines. It is never fun for anybody, but the French take it to a new level. For example, our group was buying metro cards and there were ten of us in line. They obviously knew that we were tourists so they just went up to the window first. Several French people did it! They were always really polite about it, but it is interesting how it’s acceptable to just cut people who aren’t from Paris. According to the program directors to avoid this you just ask them to wait and be firm with your spot in line. And since I’m so confrontational that’s not happening haha… So far it has been an awesome experience and I really love being here in the city. I can’t wait to find all of the smaller attractions and to pick up on more of the culture. I’ll let you know when I find them and figure more of it out!

Thanks for reading!


P.S. A brief update on what I have seen so far in Paris. I’ve been to the Musée d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, several restaurants, and a tour of the Jewish area (meaning falafel) I am going to post pictures! More later and until then!

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  1. Great post Brad…love the food pics! I must have been channeling you…last week I went to the Frist for an exhibit of Impressionism from the Musée d’Orsay! lol

  2. Glad you made it safe and are having fun! The food pictures look so yummy! Totally crazy about the cutting in line, interesting how it is acceptable. What kinds of scarves do they wear?

    • They wear all kinds, but they seem to always be wearing them. I think it’s just a warmth thing because they’re always thick.

  3. So I pulled a you and just looked at the pictures…
    Just kidding 🙂
    What do you mean you’re not confrontational? Let the Parisians know you mean business.

    • you’re a different story haha….i’m only confrontational to you

  4. Summon me up there next time a frenchy cuts you in line–I’ll take care of it.

  5. Perhaps confront the Parisians like Brian confronts bad drivers?

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