It’s only fitting that my first travel-related post be about the biggest travel adventure that I ever undertook – namely my moving to Gay Paris. The world is full of myths and misconceptions and, never having lived in a foreign country before, I was looking forward to seeing firsthand how reality compared. The French, in particular, have quite the strong reputation amongst foreigners. Obviously, one thinks sex, fashion and food – and these are all wonderful attributes, which I have partaken of as frequently as humanly possible.
Unfortunately, these things tend be overshadowed by the somewhat darker rumours of a race of arrogant, rude and condescending smokers who strut about the place with a beret set at a jaunty angle upon their heads, a baguette tucked under their arms, a penchant for mime and their only concession to colour being a striped shirt in noir et blanc. Personally, I blame any Hollywood film that ever had a scene set in Paris – you can also imagine my utter dismay upon discovering that not every hotel room and apartment has a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower.
So, with great trepidation I set forth determined to conquer and uncover the truth of this strange new land. First up, I can honestly say that I have, contrary to the most prevalent of the stereotypes, found the natives to be most friendly and welcoming. Once you make it pointedly clear that you aren’t from a detested country – would you like fries with that? In my case this is usually accompanied with cries of ‘Australie?!? So far away!’
I must admit I have definitely seen a lack of enthusiasm for bright colours amongst the clothing of the Parisian mecs – although strangely excluding underwear where I have often witnessed a rainbow of colours flashing about the gym locker room. Certainly, I have it on good authority, from my husband and others, that my insistence upon wearing my favourite shoes – in an extremely vibrant red – will without doubt ensure I shall never be mistaken for a true Parisian.
Now it has been said that most Frenchmen – and women – would rather lose a limb than be denied a cigarette. Sadly, I have found this to be very much the case. Not that Australia for all its sporty outdoorsyness doesn’t have its fair share of the nicotine obsessed, but it does seem to be much more of a way of life here rather than just a habit. As I understand it, this stems from the French method of cultivating children on a traditional steady diet of coffee, wine and cigarettes – practically from birth – to ensure that only the strongest survive.
All that being said, the place is a wealth of culture and culinary delights, and truly a delight to visit – once you get past the smell of urine in the streets, that is!