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My husband and I moved to Paris one week ago from Dallas, Texas. We’ve been here a zillion times before and even own a small studio apartment in the ninth arrondissement. But things just seem a touch different when you realize you aren’t leaving anytime soon. Here are some of our observations after one week:
1. When you finally commit to speaking French to strangers, everyone in France will want to practice their English. Like the lady in the pet store who insisted on coming up with the word “hairball” to try and sell me some hairball treatment for our kitties, because “shedding the…how do you call it…fur…is bad this time of the year.”
2. Sometimes when there is a massive protest/riot/transit strike, we just don’t notice. Like today. We were in four different neighborhoods – including the Prefecture de Police in one of them – and noticed nothing, even though the protest was making headlines. In the center of the city at the BHV department store, a couple of the buses weren’t running. But there were signs saying so. And of course, the one we needed was running.
3. I’ve been crime-drama free for one week now. Today at the department store I saw Sam Waterson on the giant TV display and had to have my husband pull me away so we wouldn’t get sucked back in to the Law and Order vortex. I’ll get the shakes if you even mention CSI.
4. The French have learned the up-sell. When purchasing a printer, we were asked if we wanted printer paper, extra ink cartridges, and/or a USB cable. At the pet store, they asked us if we wanted treats, cat litter, toys and just about anything else they had in the store to go with our bag of cat food and scratching post we purchased.
5. We ate out at lot in the states. Like about two times a day on most days. Sunday brunch every weekend. Weekday lunches. And yet we haven’t been out to eat but once yet in Paris. So we couldn’t figure out why we weren’t feeling depressed that we didn’t have the cash to eat out all the time. Then we figured it out: We aren’t working, so we aren’t eating and drinking to recover from a rough day (dinner) or boring morning (lunch). And I thought we liked our jobs. Hmmm.
6. Clothing is ungodly expensive if you don’t know where to go. (It’s just expensive if you know where to go.) I have seen bras – basic bras in tan at a department store – for 53 Euro, roughly $60. I have seen prettier ones for 98 Euro. I have seen bras at the French equivalent of Target for about $30. The cheapest I’ve seen anywhere is about $20 and it was in a neighborhood I wouldn’t want to try anything on. Fortunately, I don’t need a bra.
7. We are Coke-free for one week. But we are hitting the sauce like never before. Coke Light is too expensive here for us to maintain our six-pack-per-day habit. Solution? Cheap wine and sparking wine. We got a two-fer on some sparkling wine for 5.80 with a .70 reduction instant coupon. Who needs Coke?
8. This place has got nothing on Texas in terms of weather. You don’t even have to wait five minutes for it to go from weirdly balmy to icy cold and then throw in a torrential downpour that last three minutes total, just for fun.
9. It’s fun to wear the same jeans for four or five days in a row.
10. The French have decided my husband works at The Home Depot. Everytime we go to Castorama, the home improvement store here, French people ask him for help. Not only do the Casto people all wear uniform shirts that look nothing like whatever my husband is wearing that day, but to be honest he doesn’t know the first thing about hanging wallpaper, which is the area people wanted help. (If they asked me, I’d just tell them we’re experts in taking that crap down and to not put it up in the first place. But nobody asked me.)
11. Kronenburg Extra doesn’t really mean extra. It means less. Less alcohol – like 2.6 percent rather than the usual 5 percent. It’s like near beer, the creepy kind you get in Oklahoma. Hubby advises you to steer clear of the “extra.”
12. My husband thinks women in motorcycle helmets are hot. Looks like I’m saving up for a Vespa.