One of the best things about traveling is that you get an opportunity to observe the locals, what they do, how they behave, what they wear and how they do things. One place perfect for observing people is the city of Paris. In fact, they made an art form of observing people. This very Parisian habit is commonly known now as people-watching. But people are not the only thing we should be watching. How things are done in France is often quite different from how we do things at home. In the few days I was in Paris, I found some interesting things about the people and places in the city. Here is a short list of things I discovered during my last visit:
Parisians walk almost everywhere. Paris is a very walkable city, but they use the metro or the bus for long distances.
Parisians like to spend their lunch hour in parks, especially when the weather is sunny. Usually eating a baguette sandwich they can buy from the local bakery. If not, they go to enjoy the sun. Some people even take their children for lunch at parks.
People here walk around with their Starbuck coffee on one hand. The people I saw doing this somehow are dressed professionally, so I’m guessing they take their Starbucks back to work. But most still prefer to sit in a cafe for their afternoon coffee, sometimes with a croissant to go with it.
People here drive like crazy or maybe even recklessly. This includes taxi drivers, bus drivers and people in motorcycles and scooters. Sometimes I wonder, what’s the hurry?
Parisians are glued to their smartphones. I found people doing this on buses, metros, parks, cafes even those walking around.
Parisian women wears head to toe black. Black clothes seems to be the uniform of almost every Parisian women.
There are women who wears sneakers, too. Mostly non-athletic sneakers often those from designer or luxury brands. I can only assume they do for practical reasons. But one would never know. The French are known to be secretive.
Not all women wear red lipstick and red nails. I heard somewhere that Parisian women would always wear red lipstick and sport red nail color. But I noticed chic Parisian women prefer the simple yet still sophisticated look.
Cafes are often divided into two sections – one section for eating full meals and another for coffee and snacks. The later is often in the al fresco section of the cafe.
Cafes seems to have the same items on the menu mainly steak and eggs, various types of omelets, duck confit, steak tartare and various types of crepes.
Cafes doesn’t always offer breakfast because most of them are not open during breakfast hours, even though some of the items in the menu would be considered as breakfast food to most of us.
Most of the tourist attractions have either a bus stop or metro station near them which makes it easy for us to visit these places.
Some of the sights in Paris are walking distance from each other. One example would be the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and the Jardin Tuileries are walking distance from each other. This naturally makes these places easy to visit perhaps in one day.
There are police officers and soldiers in Paris everywhere especially in tourist attractions. This mainly due to the terrorist attacks Paris suffered in recent weeks and years.
Parisians also rent bikes to get around. They bike as fast as they walk.
They have two elections for president. The primary election is a national election with 11 candidates. The top two candidates from the results of the primary will be the ones running for the actual election two weeks later.
Both primary and presidential elections happens on a Sunday. The new president is announced at 8:00 in the evening on the same day. I have witness this before during my first trip to Paris in 2007. I’m very glad I was able to witness something like them on both trips to Paris. It was very enlightening.