Discovering Paris


With its weather, street sellers and traffic, Paris has become to me a taste of what Iran could have been and although Paris or France is not the most popular destination for Iranian expatriates, I can see the attraction. Sitting in a street café on my first day of a week’s holiday with my husband, I felt as if I was transported in time – something of an irony when a man walked passed me with a ‘Revolution is Coming’ t-shirt. For Iranians, even half Iranians who never lived in a pre-revolution Iran, Paris was very much a reminder of how things were and even how things could have been. Paris indeed is a magical city and I often wondered during my stay why people would travel thousands of miles when there is Paris with weather of 39 degrees on our doorstep.

We stayed at the Hotel Gramont Opera in Paris, a quaint hotel. the second most popular hotel on TripAdvisor and believe me, I can see why. The hotel is smaller than some but the service is impeccable. The staff could not do enough for you and scanning through the comments book at the reception desk each day, the guests could not praise them enough. The location was perfect and only a maximum of 5 minutes walk from the Metro station. That is a great thing about Paris, you are never more than a few yards from a Metro station, something that London is somewhat lacking. Upon booking the hotel, my husband notified them that it was my birthday during our stay, we arrived back to the hotel room on the day I turned 30 with a lovely note and a box of Ferrer Rocher. It was a lovely gesture.

One day, my husband with his ever trusty GPS, found a quaint restaurant: Restaurant De La Tour somewhat of the beaten tourist track in a side street more or less five feet from a McDonalds (I am slightly exaggerating, but I hope you catch my drift). Both the food and service were heaven. Even the toilet was quaint with individual hand towels, the melt in your mouth food was a little pricey, however even the bathroom was worth it, despite the seconds of sheer panic when I failed to understand the French anti-lock system on the bathroom door.

However, at the George V restaurant along the Champs Elysees, the service we received unfortunately left much to be desired – particularly to British people who culturally are used to politeness, to people responding with “please” and “thank you” or even to have the tomato ketchup left on the table until you have finished your meal or at least asked before it was so abruptly taken away from your grasp. What also surprised me was that France was still an open smoking culture where it was sometimes hard to find a non-smoking area within restaurants. Walking past the Moulin Rouge, I was surprised at the open window displays of sexual ‘objects’ in the shop windows with young children walking past them, looking into the windows. Even newspaper stands had ‘certain’ magazines in public view.

However, as with all things – we all have to take the bad with the good; the rough with the smooth. Paris was magical, the Eiffel Tower mind-blowing. Quite something for someone who is afraid of heights and saw herself at the very top. I can not begin to imagine what many Londoners would feel, having a mobile phone signal on the underground as Parisians do on the French Metro.

Sitting here now, I am trying to bring into words the heavenly 5 days in Paris. Instead of fumbling for English anecdotes, I’d like to borrow from the French language: ‘a bon vin, point d’enseigne’ (the reputation of a good thing precedes it). I strongly recommend visiting Paris, a beautiful city with beautiful weather, amazing history and only a couple of hours on the Eurostar. Seriously, what more could you ask for? I can easily give my view of Paris, but should you go – I’d rather you discover what Paris has to over through your own eyes. It may be in Europe, it may have a larger number of French people than some British people are used to, but it’s Paris!! Seriously, you can not go wrong!!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ruby slippers
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 21:45:01

    I love your writing, I also loved Paris. The only thing that struck me when I was there was the amount of dog poo you had to wade through everywhere you went.

    I can imagine your terror during those seconds of despair when you couldn’t unlock the toilet door. We’ve all been there! X

    Reply

  2. alphabetgames
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 09:45:51

    Thank you! Paris is certainly very special – fortunately I was never confronted with dog poo!

    Reply

  3. grandmac
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 12:02:16

    Glad you enjoyed it so much.
    My memories are not quite so star struck and I always think one big city is much like another, but happy that you have a good memory to keep of your time there!

    Reply

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