I thought I'd take this blog to mention a few off the beaten path things I've noticed here in Paris. Some are silly, some are scary and some are just plain weird. So, in no particular order, here we go.
1. Driving in Paris. In a word, don't. I've been all over the world and can tell you sincerely it's one of the top ten scary places to be behind the wheel. And let's not even talk about being in a cross walk. You may have a little green man saying you have the right of way, but no one told the drivers. They blast up to the line and sometimes stop...sometimes don't. I think it just depends on their mood. LOL
2. So let's move on to the little green man. He's not someone you can trust in Paris. Honestly. In every other country we've been in, the little green man across the cross walk means something. Here, he's just there to lull you into a false sense of security. You see, what happens is you'll have a red man and you'll wait as you should, but then he changes to green. So you know, as you've been trained since childhood, it's safe to walk.
But that's not really true. Yeah, you can walk for a little bit, but then, with no warning, your little green friend just up and disappears! No warning, no little yellow man or flashing lights or sound to let you know you're running out of time.
Suddenly you're in the middle of the street and there are dozen of cars flying around you. And all because for some reason Parisians don't think it's necessary to give pedestrians a bloody warning.
3. You have to admire a people who spend so much time relaxing over a cuppa. There were times I'd walk by a cafe on my way to a museum and two hours later I'd walk back by and the same two people were still sitting there enjoying the coffee. Add an eclair or quiche and they will literally sit there for hours.
You don't see a lot of take away food or drinks here. People would rather sit and take some time to enjoy their meal. It's the hardest part of the culture for me. Relaxing is not very easy to do when there is so much to see and do.
4. And finally, now let's talk about something near and dear to my heart. Toilets. Or, should I say the lack of them. I swear, I've been to tiny hamlets in Thailand that had more facilities that the big huge city of Paris.
Now they tell you they have "Public Toilets", but it's a misleading phrase. There are a few around the city but they are few and far between. And the ones you can find are these little round booth like things on the big main streets. It's kind of a scary thing to use one. First off, it's all in French so it's hard to understand what to do if you've never used one before. You can tell a newbie by the dance they do outside. The door opens and someone leaves, so they go inside, but it's too early. The machine has this cycle it has to perform before the next person can use it but if the next person goes in too early the whole thing stops.
You hear online about the machine suddenly opening before the person is finished. They say you have twenty minutes to do your business, but I don't trust them. When I use one--and that's only when I absolutely HAVE TO--I pee faster than I ever have before. LOL
As you walk around Paris you learn where you can go pee. I'm very aware of every McDonalds, Starbucks and mall. They usually always have a bathroom you can use. But I think the thing I found the most crazy was that you can always find a bathroom in a place I'd never have considered looking.
That's right. All the graveyards I visited had several toilets, all neatly kept and ready for use. You can't find one easily under the Eiffel Tower or down the Champ Elysees, but you can go put flowers on your grandmother's grave and take care of business. What's up with that? Are they more aware of dead people than the living?
It's a conundrum.