An American in Paris

One couldn’t ask for a more beautiful and warm day in Paris. Once I exited the train station, I looked for the nearest newspaper stand to find the best map possible – since I only had one day, I wanted to make sure that I saw everything I could. Because everything on the map was shown in French, I went with the only one with pictures of what each location contained.

Paris has a vibe that lures you into it’s charm; the environment may be busy with traffic and tourists, but the elegance of small stores, the landmarks, and overall beauty allows you to truly embrace your surroundings.

Most people will take the subway to travel to location to location, I absolutely hated to do so if I was perfectly capable of walking to each spot myself. I believe walking everywhere allows you to see and experience so much more. I would have missed all the quaint streets, the smells drifting out from the small cafes, and all the sunshine of that beautiful day.

I caught my first sight of the Eiffel Tower across town, as I approached the Louvre Museum. Throughout the day, the Tower turns different colors in line with how the sun touches it. At a far away distance, the color of the structure appears gray, but when you get closer the golden colors become more distinct. By sunset, pink tones radiate off the steel and at night the golden lights get turned on. Every hour after the suns set, lights are scheduled to twinkle for several minutes. The sparkling of the tower at night is something not to be missed – it’s absolutely amazing!

Just Passing Through

While backpacking Europe, I used France as a transitional country to get to other countries. France (as pronounced with an ah, instead of like the a in pants) as I was corrected to properly pronounced it, became more of a land I was just passing through to travel to the other countries of Spain, Switzerland, and England.

I took the train through the French Riviera, which looked much like the architecture of southern California. Stopped in a few towns along the way to soak up a bit of the land before continuing on; such as, Nice and Montpellier. Nice showcases it’s very clean and urban downtown with department stores, restaurants, and modern pieces of art; while Montpellier boasts of old European structures of arches and domes with intricate details (as pictured below).

When I would spend time each city, I found the French to be quite impatient with those who didn’t understand their language in their stores – which included me. Also, when I couldn’t speak a word of French, I developed a language of my own to translate what I was trying to ask or say. This translation started in Montpellier, I couldn’t locate the train station after wandering around for hours, so I started asking people on the street if they knew where I could find it. Finally, after meeting enough people who couldn’t speak English, I started doing charades. My comedic imitation of pulling a train cord along to “choo choo” sounds got the job done, as well as creating some cheap street entertainment.

The most entertaining and the best city to see in all of France will always be Paris. On the overnight train into this fabulous city, I had to share a compartment with a family with a young girl. The German father and French wife were very nice. I found a continual pattern of the Germans not liking the French; consequently, he was on his way to visit his in-laws, which was lucky for him, because they also happened to be french. The child kept waking me up consistently throughout the night by crying, but morning came and Paris beamed with blue skies and warm June weather – finally I could be set free to explore Grand Pari.