The Things Parisian’s Really Love
Everyone knows Parisians love the arts, beautiful parks, literature, berets, pencil moustaches and croissants. Having now spent a month with these fine Monsieurs, Madams and Mademoiselles we have learned of one or two less obvious things they love.
Firstly and I believe fore-mostly, the Parisian loves anyone learning to speak French. This is a great fact, as it means the Parisian will quite happily let you practice your French when speaking with them, no matter the situation, how bad it is or how long you take. They are very very patient with the humble Francophile. This may not come as a surprise, but what we have found greatly surprising is that the Parisians are actually quite warm and polite when you attempt French first. We have not had a single bad/rude reaction from a Parisian when attempting to converse in French. often they just reply in English, which apart from emphasising how poor your French really is, makes things a lot easier. Just yesterday Clare and I bought train tickets for three separate journeys, which took close to 20 minutes to explain in French. The attendant at the counter had all the time in the world it seemed. Not sure all of the 30 strong line behind us were as patient.
Unfortunately John Pearce was horribly correct and Parisians are also big fans of dog poo. In fact they love it so much that they make sure their dogs leave it in the most prominent position on the footpath. They would certainly never pick it up, and have you miss seeing the little treat. Only when the cleaning truck comes past once a day is it with sadness that the delicate nuggets are taken from us forever.
Parisians are well fond of etiquette. Something you may be aware. Did you know though that public transport etiquette is of great import? Whether you are attempting to use a more heavily congested door than another on the train, bumping people with your large backpack, or packing into the train just before the door closes; you can expect a sincere dressing down that will last quite a few minutes. The person will not become angry or verbose and will not resort to name calling but you can rest assured that even if you do not understand French you will be completely certain what is it you have done in error.
Perhaps linked to their love of etiquette is something else the Parisians hold dear. Recycling. I don’t understand it personally as a non-recycler (sorry Gail, I know this may dislodge me from the favourite son in law position, even though I am the only one). The Parisian though, loves a good recycle and will even go to the trouble of taking recycling down the road to massive green bins positioned on the street and dump bottle after bottle. I have even heard of a couple of short Australians (www.2shortaussies1bigworld.wordpress.com) getting yelled at by the unit complex manager for not sorting recycling correctly. Fortunately we have no such manager.
This next one applies to Europeans generally but is especially true of the Parisian. They have a genuine affinity with urine. One can only assume that this is why there are approximately 3 public toilets in all of Paris. To ensure that as often as possible everyone must wee; in a phone box, beside a building of any kind, against a carousel, or in any form of public place really. We have seen people doing just this pretty much anywhere and everywhere. At the Sacré Coeur one night the preferred urination location for the masses was causing a fountain down some unused stairs. It was magical the way it caught the evening light. Of course if you ever (selfishly) try not to share your wee with the Parisians and flush it down a toilet instead, you will be charged 50c as a punishment.
The smell it leaves is also a treat in itself. When in Paris if you feel as though you are walking into an area slightly hidden from public view, you should cut your nose off as a precautionary measure. The photo shows not only an exploded dog grenade, but the small space behind those columns is a huge urine danger zone. Unfortunately for you I am unable to send smells via photograph, but should you wish to recreate it I don’t imagine it would be that difficult. You could just follow these four simple steps:
Step 1 – Wee on a blanket
Step 2 – Bake blanket in the sun
Step 3 – Repeat steps 1-2 several times
Step 4 – Wear blanket as facemask!
There is one thing however that Parisians love more than anything else, and I have to totally agree with them (no its not what your thinking don’t worry). Parisians are in love with the tip of a warm freshly baked baguette. This is not a love we have encountered before, probably because no where else does freshly baked bread melt in your mouth so perfectly. Should you ever be fortunate enough to visit Paris, I challenge you to find a baguette in someone’s hand that still has its tip. From about 5pm until 7pm the Parisian will happily join a line of 20 compatriots out of the boulangerie door to ensure the bread with dinner is as fresh as possible. If you were standing any more than 5m down the street from a boulangerie around this hour of the day, you would be forgiven for thinking they were being sold with one end missing!
Which reminds me, it’s 6:30pm. Better go get the bread for dinner. “Oh sorry Clare, they only had broken half baguettes left again. I’ll try going earlier tomorrow”!