Bonjour! With almost 2 weeks under my belt, I am slowly (and happily) adjusting to the French pace of life. My first observation is that no one is in a rush (except when they are in the metro)! That applies to waiters, shop workers, bankers, airbnb hosts, and cell phone store workers. Fortunately, this slower pace is accompanied by a plethora of friendly exchanges and positive personalities.
All of my experience in France continues to prove to me that the stereotype of the French being rude is just not true. From my banker to the cafe I get my morning pain au chocolate, I am always greeted with a smile and a bright “Bonjour”! In addition, every time I leave an establishment I am left with an “au revoir” or “bonne soirée”. They always expect an answer! I figured that out very quickly. Very different than the customs in the United States but it adds to every experience and makes me feel very welcome everywhere I go. This culminates when a cashier has to slowly repeat the total and wait while I rustle through my wallet to get exact change (something that is appreciated and expected here). Even when I ask for it to be repeated or it takes me a while to find the coins of the correct denominations, it is all smiles and patience. Every day I have another positive encounter with a French person.
I have no doubt that they know immediately once I start speaking that I am not a native French speaker, but they let me muddle through and occasionally help me with a phrase or word instead of just saying it in English, something I appreciate since I want to improve my French and not just be given a crutch every time.
My favorite activity has become walking. Each day I just head out in a different direction. The best part about walking in France is that there is always something to look at, there is no such thing as a dull walk in Paris! Every day brings a new sight, new experience, and a new person to greet! Who could ever get enough of Paris!
Here are a few pictures from my strolling: