“The Mona Lisa is the most recognized painting in the world.”
“The Eiffel Tower is the most recognized monument in the world.”
“France is the most popular tourist destination in the world.”
“Paris is the most popular city for tourists in the world.”
These are just some of the facts and figures I’ve been spewing over the last few weeks. June is high season for tourists in Paris. First my uncle and aunt arrived with another couple. Then my mom and my aunt arrived.
These people are all from rural Ontario, Canada. Traveling usually means hopping on a plane, finding your way to Arrivals and locating the guy with a sign with your name on it who will cart you to a resort where you will stay put. There is nothing wrong with this. But it doesn’t train you for the skills required of behemoth cities like Paris.
Paris is no resort town. This is Balls-out-find-your-way-or-be-lost-forever Town until you get the lay of the land. “Did you know there are over 300 Métro stations in Paris?” Bonne chance.
For the last two weeks, I would arrive at their hotel and lead them through the city, whipping out superlatives along the way. Paris is the biggest, has the oldest, and is the most popular in just about every category. When they’d ask something I didn’t know, I’d shrug and say, “Google it.”
The Left Bank area of Paris is soooooo good about making tourists feel like they are getting the true Parisian experience. The berets, the big moustaches, the surly lipped waiters… it’s all there. And the souvenir shops! I had no idea they had great stuff. I’ve bypassed them all up until now. But with the family in town, we had our paws in everything in those shops. I even bought an apron with a French kitty on it.
At the onset of their vacations, I did some casual interviewing on the Métro as they stood gripping the bar and trying the plant their feet as the train squealed around bends under the city. I ask questions because I need to know what they want to major in while in Paris.
Paris has a lot to offer and you have to declare a major when your here.
My friend Huey declared iron as his major and photographed ornate gates during his two weeks here. My friend Alan, a movie buff, majored in movie sites and in particular, Midnight in Paris. He also spent every night wandering around Paris thinking up ideas for his new writing project.
|Waiting for the 1920s on the famous steps in Midnight in Paris.|
Since I live here, I’m taking a general Bachelors Degree in Paris. Some semesters I study art at the museums. I took a few weeks to study different street artists, too. For ages, I was enamored with Space Invader. Finding one of his art pieces around the city was like finding an Easter Egg. Now I’m into the street artist who literally paints on the street, as seen in this photo:
But after I read Paris in Color, I majored in finding matching colors and slapping them together.On the day I took the photo montage above, it was a black and white day. Some days, it’s lemon yellow.
Or a rainbow theme:
Sometimes I major in food, too.
With a particular focus on dessert:
|Hello, nata, you beautiful thing.|
Or the skyline:
|Listen to Paul’s music if you know what’s good for you. The lyrics make my teeth tingle.|
While my uncle was here, we majored in monuments. They only had three days, so we madly rushed through the city checking the biggies off the list: Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe. CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!
My mom and aunt were here longer so we majored in shopping. I made them see at least one touristy thing each day, but once that was “over with,” we got back to trying on summer frocks. The French are good at dresses. Holy Lord.
My mom fell on a cobblestone street one day and needed 9 stitches in her knee, so that day we majored in the French social system. It didn’t cost her a dime and they even provide a Métro ticket to get her back to the hotel. She was a trooper. Once the Advil kicked in, we were back to frock finding. But this time, walking arm-in-arm:
But now that they’ve all gotten safely back on their planes, I’m going back to majoring in my favorite subject: