After a month in Paris, I have now come to expect the following:
We always address people formally, as in ‘May I ask a question, Madame?’
Everyone – from cabbies to colleagues to the lady who cleans the apartment – is greeted with ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Au revoir”.
Arrivals and departures are not marked with sloppy American hugs but precise air kisses on both cheeks.
Tiny dogs have the same rights as children and seem to go everywhere. No questions asked.
Posters, signs and directions will almost always be misleading. A sign on the train station under construction saying that entrée is free actually means you must pay three euros. Because free doesn’t actually mean ‘free’. It means free. Get it?
Follow the rules or you’re screwed. I was actually stopped by the police and severely reprimanded for not having a photograph on my metro pass. (“C’est obligatoire, Madame!”)
Women are the gentler sex in Paris. Seriously. And you will be wearing make up, nice clothes, and have decent hair at all times when you leave the house. (Extra points for a matching handbag, pearls or anything with maribou.)
Dinner with friends will be about 10PM if you go to their house. Maybe by 9PM if you eat out. But who’s in a hurry? There is wine to drink!
You will become extremely large unless you walk. The world’s best Camembert is all of $2 or $3 for a generous piece. The world’s best butter is cut off of huge slabs at the cheese shop. The croissants are simply not of this world. And then there’s the tendency to eat veal liver, sweet breads, kidneys in red wine or a lovely big steak just about every damn night. And we haven’t even gotten to dessert. My friend Francis says the red wine keeps the weight off. The good news is that this IS the best city on the planet to walk in.
Oh … and you’ll never get off the Metro until you learn to open the door.
Et ca c’est tous for my fourth week in Paris, la ville de mes rêves.