Au Revoir

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I never realized how much of a pain de-tax forms are. Our plane back to the States had already started boarding, and we were still standing in the middle of Charles de Gaulle airport, stuffing de-tax forms into various envelopes and searching madly for a de-tax box. Fortunately the plane was delayed, so there was really no rush. The flight back to the States was smooth and uneventful. The flight attendants were very nice (much better than on the last trip), and Pierre, the head steward, was a hoot. As he was passing through the cabin, he greeted me with a hearty “Howdy doody!” (What an odd sounding phrase in a French accent.) He also asked my mom for her phone number and winked at her a few times, much to my father’s chagrin. You can take the Frenchman out of France…. Looking back on my stay in France, I am very pleased. Although I enjoyed traveling throughout the country when I was small, I enjoyed it much, much more this time. My knowledge of French history gave me an increased appreciation for the sights my family and I saw, and my study of the French language helped immensely in communication. These two advances in my education are probably the greatest reasons why I enjoyed this trip more than any of the others. I was also very pleased that the architecture really was awesome, and not just the product of a young child’s imagination. All of the buildings around our apartment were marvelous to see. The great monuments, such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, were impressive as ever. What pleased me most was being able to walk around the city and note the differing architectural styles found in different areas. Of course, the food was excellent, too; I can honestly say that I didn’t have a bad meal on the entire trip. Everything I ate was either good, great, or blow-your-socks-off excellent. My two favorite restaurants were probably Les Terrasses de Lyon and the restaurant at Riboto de Taven. These were exceptional, but all of the other restaurants that I reviewed were very good as well. (And, I will say that for the type of restaurant/bar that it was, the place with the red awnings at the end of Cité Martignac, near our apartment, was good for lunch. The proprietor is a cool guy, and you can watch sports on the T.V. at the bar.) The best aspect of our stay was the attitude of the French toward Americans. We had no trouble with the French at all. There were no bad attitudes (except for a few taxi drivers), no disdaining looks, nor were there any rude remarks (that I could understand). However, we apparently did not act like Americans: many people thought we were British. After correcting one of our taxi drivers on this point, I asked him if more Americans were starting to travel to France again. He said that more were, and that he was very glad.  One specific thing that shocked and pleased me was the French attitude toward the passing of President Reagan. Frankly, I did not expect the French to care that much about it. However, after people realized that we were American, many of the French people extended their condolences and spoke very highly of President Reagan. These were people who really didn’t have much to gain from us: taxi drivers, waiters, etc. They did not have to say anything, but they were kind enough to do so, and my entire family appreciated it. I will say, however, that our family made an attempt to play by the French rules. My friend’s family, when they visited, did not. As a result, they encountered bad attitudes, many disdaining looks, and I’d bet they were the targets of some scathing remarks. Bottom line: how you behave greatly affects the reception you receive. If you dress fairly well, are polite, and are not loud, then you should be treated well. It also helps to know a few French words and phrases. The more you know, the better. This trip has been unforgettable. Although it was my third time abroad, it was the first time I truly appreciated France’s great culture and heritage. I have no idea when I will be back. Maybe I’ll study in France for a while in college. I do know that the experiences I had on this trip, both good and sketchy, will profoundly affect my thoughts of France, the French, Americans and American culture. Taylor Horton is a high school student who considers himself very fortunate to be writing for Bonjour Paris this summer.
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