A Week In Paris (Part Two)
After we eventually met up with the cab driver, we drove to the hotel in silence; half-asleep and, I believe, not fully conscious of where we actually were. I don’t think it was easy for any of us to understand that we were actually in Paris: we’d survived our first overseas flight.
(That’s a big thing for someone like me, who is irrationally afraid of anything that is “unknown”, “extreme” or “outlandish”.)
We checked into the hotel- Best Western Le Patio Saint Antoine- without any hassle, and then set off into the streets for our first meal in Paris.
I don’t remember exactly how we ended up at the crepe café, but I do remember that that was the first time I grasped how much of an obstacle language can be when travelling. Luckily, one of the two girls who owned the café could understand a little bit of English, and soon we were on our way back to the hotel with two vegetable crepes, and two egg and cheese ones.
I won’t say it was the most satisfying meal I’ve ever had, but it was also not the worst.
The next morning after breakfast, we took a trip to Galeries LaFayette. Imagine if the shops at Sandton City were even bigger, and built-up over 10 storeys, and you’ll have an idea of what I was experiencing.
I wanted everything, but I had a limited budget (€ 100, and a stern “be sure to spend it wisely” from my dad, who also took care to convert the amount back to Rands for me, so that I would know just what I was working with), and I wouldn’t have been able to pay the excess at the airport when my Marc Jacobs bag(s) and Zara dresses put my luggage way over weight.
So I couldn’t shop until I dropped. I still enjoyed walking through, up and around the monumental shopping centre, browsing and touching all the cool, luxurious, classy things that I couldn’t quite afford. It was like window shopping, but without the heavyhearted-yet-optimistic “I’ll come back for it later…” sigh which usually accompanies such an activity, because the truth was that I wasn’t sure I could.
|Christmas time at LaFayette. Louis Vuitton had the best window displays; on the next corner, lemurs wore the totes and the sunglasses :)|
I’d been in Paris just about a day, and I was already wishing I could come back. That’s what fashion (and a mild-to-bad case of consumerism) does to me.
I didn’t get anything at LaFayette, but I looked good doing it. I don't like winter, but I decided winter in France is as good a time as any to up the fashion stakes:
|The skater dress is from Jay Jays, and my gran got me this amazing Chanel-esqe bag.|
The following morning, we found out how to use the subway. The cab ride back from LaFayette convinced us that local cab drivers will do anything to get tourists to hand over their money- taking unnecessary detours being the least of it- so my dad vowed never to use one again for as long as we were in Paris.
The people at the hotel’s reception told us where the subway was, what line to take, and where to get off. When we got onto the train, we asked some people to clarify our intended route to us even further.
A few minutes into the ride, there was a man who tapped me on the shoulder, then started “explaining” something to me, and pointing to the trip monitor/map above the train doors before he got off at his stop.
He meant well, but I think there would’ve been a lot more accomplished if he hadn’t been speaking in really fast French, and if I could’ve done more than just nod.
By this time, the language problem was starting to frustrate me. A lot. The one thing that is worse than being lost, is being lost in a country where no one speaks your language. And being lost in that country with someone who insists that they know best, even when it is blatantly obvious that their “ideas” are not allowing for progress. I will never understand my father.
My aunt had somehow understood what the man was saying, and two or three stops later, we got off at a place called Val d’Europe. We were going to see what La Vallee Village had to offer in terms of shopping.
After a few hours of wandering around that mall, we headed back to the hotel. I still hadn’t bought anything, despite all the sales that were supposedly happening at the village, and I was annoyed because of the weather.
“dapper season” or not, winter is not the most fun time of the year- especially when it rains.
Back on Saint Antoine, we went to the supermarket. There, I had my first encounter with a rude local. I asked this man- who was part of the staff, and therefore obliged to be helpful- where the salt was, and he pointed somewhere while mumbling something in French, wihout even looking at me!
I know South Africa doesn’t have the most polite shop attendants all the time either, but I was under the false impression that things were different and better overseas. I blame Hollywood for that, too.
Next time: details about my trip to Musee de Louvre!