Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A Paris analysis

If there is one thing about Paris which has changed, it’s the people. I feel they are not as hostile to people who speak English as they used to be. Oh… believe me, they used to immediately show you a sour face as soon as you ask “Do you speak English?” or “Parlez-vous anglais?”. Now, however; when I went up to a lady (after memorising left, right, straight in French) and asked “Ou-est Arc De Triomphe?”… she actually answered… “Go stlait here, second ze right, you turn”.

There are many people who travel around in bicycle. You can actually rent bicycles from a public bicycle machine. I have no idea how it works but it certainly augur well for the environment. Well, me and Jules didn’t take up the offer as we weren’t exactly dress for it. Anyhow, I am not exactly a cycling person.

Though Paris has got a very efficient public transport system called Metro, you don’t really need to take it that often unless you have your luggage with you. We walked almost the entire city and only took the Metro at the end of the day when we were both tired and the sky was dark. One thing for sure, you definitely need a good pair of shoes to take you around. Furthermore, like I mentioned yesterday, most of the Metro station give out a very unpleasant stench so…

One thing I respect about the French is their willingness to draw the line between work and rest. Perhaps some will call it laziness but seriously, the French certainly know how to enjoy life.
The above is a picture of Champs-Élysées (pronounced shon-si-lei-si-eh) which I took on a Sunday. Can you see the amount of people there? They are mostly tourist. Champs-Élysées is like the heart of Paris, the street has got almost everything and people flock around this street. But do you know what happen on Sunday? Despite the presence of so many tourists, 90% of the shops there are closed!

Except for the sidewalk cafés which charge you a bomb for mineral water and some terrible crepes, I would say all the designer boutiques and other shops along Champs-Élysées are closed on Sunday. When the French need to rest, they rest. They certainly live up to the motto of “carpe diem”. So the next time you plan a trip to Paris, you know what you will not get on a Sunday.

Having said that, there was this one shop that was opened and these were what they were selling…
They say the French are very good with food. The last time I was there, I squeezed my wallet to try the famous “escargots”. This time however, I didn’t get to try. Don’t ask why, absolute disappointment. Anyway, we didn’t really feast much in Paris due to limited time. We had our first dinner in a Belgian restaurant as the nearest French restaurant to our hotel was fully booked. Yes, a lot of the good restaurants in Paris are booked weeks… and I mean weeksssss in advance. So if you are thinking of a good meal, remember to book way in advance.
The second dinner, we followed the guide book and went to a very nice French restaurant called Chartier. We left our hotel rather late as we thought we would be able to finish dinner and catch our train home with perfect timing. Unfortunately, we got it all wrong and had to rush through our dinner. In fact, we wanted to cancel our order as we thought we were going to miss our train but the waiter was kind enough to get our food immediately. Sorry, rushing means I didn’t take any picture of the food. The waiter earned himself a €5 tip.

By the way, the food was quite good and un-Paris-ly cheap! As we rushed out of the door, we were totally astonished to see a long queue waiting to go in. If only we were there earlier, we would have enjoyed our dinner. Chartier Paris… a restaurant not to be missed. The guide book certainly showed us a good place.
If you were to ask me whether Paris is a romantic city, I have to say ‘yes’ is a hesitant answer. A city of art, yes but a romantic city, not quite. Venice is top of my list for being a romantic city. Perhaps the only thing romantic about Paris is that you will find people snogging everywhere… at the sidewalk cafes, in the middle of the bridge, in the restaurant, in the museum, at the park… and I mean passionately…

Overall, I think Paris is rather over-rated by the television. Of course, I have no complaints if I have the chance to go there again.
P/S: The reason why ‘borang’ became ‘boring’ in my previous post is due to the efficiency of the auto-correct function of Microsoft word… sigh

33 comments:

Pookyma said...

It's hard to pronounce this word man!"Champs-Élysées"

I'll definitely want to go there in future!!

Lil' Ms Pinky said...

My first Paris experience was, "Ewww....dog poo everywhere on the streets! So unromantic!"

I agree with you. Paris is so over-rated. I personally prefer Rome as a city of romance. Paris, on the other hand, is only good for Louis Vuitton! :)

angeles said...

A very good 'guide' to Paree! I shall come and read again before I go there ;)

Wah... those are so errr.. pink!

Manal said...

NO matter how smelly, I also dont mind going there over n over again!
U know what, quite a few people mistaken me for a parisien too, when i don my fluffy velvety hat on one of my visits to paris a few years back! In london, am a londoner, in paris, a parisien close enuf. In Melbourne, some also think i am one of them? Gee, I am so citizen of the world? (perhaps not in the far-east and/or oriental countries).

By the way, sangat teruja membaca blog awak di dalam BM. Kalah Calvin Ong!

crys Violette said...

You know, it's the same thing in Italy where people rest more than work. Fine line btw enjoying life and being lazy I'd say.

So, what happened with almost dropping by Milan? A particular blogger was over for the Easter weekend as well.

mrbherng said...

The French will take Monday and Friday of if Tuesday or Thursday is a Bank Holiday so that they will have a 4 days weekend. Love the working live there.

sooi2 said...

Champs-Élysées can also be pronounced as "song-tou-lei-sei-ah". go figure it out in cantonese, LOL! And you should had went to Moulin Rouge!

SuLee said...

oh i remember those rental bike on the road. I like the idea.

looks fun!

suituapui said...

We teach THE NECKLACE - Guy de Maupaussant in school...and some teachers can't even get the name of the author right. That, at least, I could manage...but the name of the places, I just skipped!

The irony is unlike Paris, here in Sibu, there's an increasing number of young people speaking Mandarin, nothing but Mandarin (or maybe also their dialect - Foochow)...and not a word of English! I speak Hokkein, so with these people (cashiers in supermarkets, waitresses in the small eating outlets), I would end up speaking to them in BM. Nope!!! They don't know Hokkein;the dialect is almost dead here!!! Fewer and fewer people are speaking it...and need I comment on the standard of English? Humph!

suituapui said...

Oops...retired so many months liao, name also spell wrongly. It's "Maupassant"!

myop101 said...

dear zewt,

did you visit the countryside or other cities? i always wish to go to europe someday and visit the countryside... not sure why...:)

Huei said...

wow..now i REALLY wana travel through europe! paris and italy! but what a bummers that shops are closed on sundays. anyhow, it's still nice to be able to enjoy the scenery, and carry our bags without the fear of being snatched! ^^

Huei said...

oh btw on ur poll, there's no submit button..i'm not sure if that's my browser's problem or not

missironic said...

yea yea..went to Champs-Élysées...i still cant pronounce tat word..bsides cest la vie, bonjour, mademoiselle, monsieur, oui, merci..the rest of the french i still cant pronounce..lolz..u're right..lots of ppl cycle in paris felt somewhat like china though i never been to there before..lolz...

i agree wif u totally..i dun really find paris, the city of love..art n historical, yes..but love? have to tink deep abt it! lolz...

ooh..now i noe the 'boring' comes frm where..hehehe...

Seaqueen said...

Oh yea. Heard about their turn up nose towards foreigners who don't speak French. I guess they're starting to know that if they continue doing that they'll lose more tourist and $$ in the end.

By the way, what is actually the last pix?? Seems like some sort of glass structure.

zewt said...

pookyma - hahaha... i took a while to learn it too.

Lil' Ms Pinky - hahahaha... rome? i think rome is a city of history. i think venice is a romantic city.

angeles - so u like pink? kakakaka...

manal - so you have the look that blends well to the world eh? calvin ong tu... siapa?

crys violette - we had a 3 day travel pass and was contemplating on doing a day trip to milan. but it didnt happen... just too tiring... or perhaps we didnt plan well enough.

mrbherng - i think france has got a very tight maximum working hour in a week...

SuLee - did u do it?

zewt said...

suituapui - geee... how to pronounce maupassant? mandarin is ok la... china is growing... soon, it will be THE business language :).. as for english... then u must play the role in improving it!

myop101 - yeah, i went to fiesole which is a country side. i love coutryside too. you should really head to tuscany in italy...

huei - oh... oh... oh... pick pocket is very rampant in europe... have to be careful. as for the poll... let me fix fix...

missironic - it's shon-si-lei-si-eh... :) i think bicycle can only happen in europe... it's just too hot to do it here.

seaqueen - it's the reverse pyramid inside the louvre... did you watch da vinci code?

PurpLe~MuShRooM said...

During our visit there, my Hubby commented: Don't know why they call this a romantic city. I don't find it romantic at all.

Hahahah...

Lynnwei said...

i dont find it romantic too. maybe just need to go with the right person! ahaha... ^^

but disneyland....it's superb! oops..sorrie to mention abt it again! aha

missironic said...

hahahaa..ok, shall practice on tat pronunciation. yea..it is freaking hot here..but i used to bike around last time when younger..hometown a small town..can la bike around..but now, lazy to even bike a shortwhile..hahahaa...

Huei said...

um..ok..well..er..they hardly do it with a knife rite? i mean..here..they do it with parangs!! hahahah and they drag people on the floor for few meters..knock old ppl down on the floor..kill ppl..sigh

kyh said...

U din go to montmatre? The view from there is amazing! I mean... u can practically see the whole of paris from the top there.

And u shud go to versailles too if u hv extra time. It's not really far from paris, just around the outskirts of it. for the sake of the grandeur of what is said to be europe's largest and grandest royal palace, u shudn't miss that spot.

no matter how over-rated it is, it deserves its overratings! Paris and France both receive the most international tourists in the world (in terms of city and country), and has been awarded by the Guinness Book of Records for xx consecutive yrs.

zewt said...

purple-mushroom - hahaha... well, occasionally yes la... but to brand the whole city as the symbol of romance... not really...

lynnwei - well, bring someone special the next time and see how... :)

missironic - haha... well, u cant bike at all in the city.

huei - sigh... hope the new state govt can do something about it ler.

kyh - yeah, we missed versailles.... not enough time. i have been there and yes, i certainly agree that it is a place not to be missed. well, next time then. and i will go to this montmatre too. france and paris have the most tourists??? must be monna lisa la....

kyh said...

mona lisa? nah...... not everyone who flocks to paris is for the arts... neh... some go for food and fashion!

Quoted from wikipedia:

"Paris is the most popular tourist destination in the world, with over 30 million foreign visitors per year."

"With 79.1 million foreign tourists in 2006, France is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world, ahead of Spain (55.6 million in 2005) and the United States (49.4 million in 2005). This 79.1 million figure excludes people staying less than 24 hours in France, such as northern Europeans crossing France on their way to Spain or Italy during the Summer. France features cities of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost) , beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquility (green tourism). Aside of casual tourism France attracts a lot of religious pilgrims to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées département, that hosts a few million tourists a year. Popular tourist sites include: (according to a 2003 ranking visitors per year) : Eiffel Tower (6.2 million) , Louvre Museum (5.7 million) , Palace of Versailles (2.8 million) , Musée d'Orsay (2.1 million) , Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million) , Centre Pompidou (1.2 million) , Mont-Saint-Michel (1 million) , Château de Chambord (711,000) ,Sainte-Chapelle (683,000) , Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg (549,000) , Puy de Dôme (500,000) , Musée Picasso (441,000) , Carcassonne (362,000)."

deOughtred said...

in malaysia lately, you can also find large crowds on the street and shops clossed on sunday. during illegal demonstration, of course! :-p

missironic said...

hmm..city can't la..so dangerous..is like deliberately putting ur life in danger..lolz..

Susu Kacang said...

that's the nice thing about being in Europe - you can travel to different countries and enjoy learning about their language, culture and history.

i went to Paris but i didn't have a good impression of the place then - which started the moment i was trying desperately to explain i didn't get the right change to the French gentleman behind the counter at the train station. turned out it was my mistake but it was an embarrassing experience of chicken and duck talking to each other.

well, like you said, things may have changed for the better.

Dangerous Variable said...

The food at Chartier was great rite..? I was there too :P

zewt said...

kyh - food? i dont think i will ever go there for food. italy for food yes but paris? no way... those are some very impressive stats....

deOughtred - hahahaha... that is very true... or in penang, mamak no ppl makan...

missironic - can one... just dont ride during the day.

susu kacang - yeah, europe is like a huge continent of culture and knowledge, truly a remarkable place. and yes, things have indeed changed.

dangerous variable - too bad i had to rush through it...

missironic said...

ride in the nite? i sked la! lolz..summore my eyes arent tat gud at nite..got ABIT 'buta malam' hahahahaa...

zewt said...

missironic - and it will also be very cold...

KittyCat said...

Ooh...were you there recently? I love the Musee de Louvre - I'd give anything to go there again and finish the tour of the whole place (6 days are needed, it seems?).

By the way, it's "number of people"..."amount" is used for uncountable nouns. Sorry, I couldn't help it as you write beautifully :)

zewt said...

kittykat - no worries... thanks for the tips... but i lazy to amend though... :)... number of ppl... i shall remember that. yes, i was there last month :)