One of the things I most loved about being in Paris was how every time you looked around, there was some cultural or artistic thing to be fascinated by. As I've mentioned before, History is my Kink, and France is just... full of so much of it.
I wonder how long you have to live in Paris before you become blase.
Anyway. I was walking down the street from the Cluny Museum, determined to get myself to the Catacombs before they closed. I'd cut things very close, and I was walking, so I wasn't sure if I would make it. The fact that I kept being distracted didn't help matters.
Imagine if you will walking along a normal busy city street, and looking up to see something that looks like the Pantheon. It was just up the street from where I was, and it was so tempting to ditch the catacombs and just go there and enjoy the view. But I'd wanted to go to the Catacombs last time I'd been to Paris, but hadn't been able to. So, I forced myself to look away and continue on. (But oh, I remembered seeing the same thing last time I was in Paris, and making the same decision to walk past it. I have no photos, and can't currently recall what it was.)
Paris has this cultural sense of itself that no place else I've been ever has. The McDonald's there are artistic, with white statues everywhere and a sense of... sophistication that's lacking in our MickeyD's back home. It's not that I think the food is so much better, or that the entire chain is better in France than anywhere else. It's still McDonald's, and you don't go there for high class food. But, it's... just different. (I didn't go to a McDonald's on this trip, but I do remember it from last time quite vividly.)
There's such a stereotype about Paris, about snooty French waiters and constantly being looked down on for being "not French". And Don's told me about his brother-in-law, who is French Canadian with an Acadian accent having people in France just refuse to speak French with him. It's not as though I avoided that attitude - some of the cafes that I went in to were insanely rude, at least by my standards. But I think it's in what you choose to do. When I went into smaller places that weren't so busy, they were unfailingly polite and friendly. They seemed eager and welcoming. Those are the places I remember most fondly being in, and would like to take friends back to. (Mmmm... escargot with friends....)
I don't know. The only way I can describe the experience of being in Paris, of having these artistic wonders everywhere I looked, of having rude service in busy cafes and wonderful service in tiny little restaurants... it's just so French.