Duke Diary Dispatch: How do you get off the bus in Paris?
For example, yesterday I took the bus for the first time and discovered that you can only exit the bus from the door in the back. I won’t forget that detail after having been yelled at in French by all of the passengers in the bus that I “excusez-moi”-ed trying to squeeze past. Another difference between Americans and Parisians: no smiling at strangers and no smiling to yourself. I’m sure you’re familiar with the friendly wave or head-nod at a neighbor when you both get the mail or the silly face you make at a baby to try to make them smile.
None of that flies in Paris— a smile at the old man passing you by means that you’ve either had a bit too much red wine or you’ve “perd la tête” (perd means lost and tête means head— you can work out the meaning).
Of course, I’ve already enjoyed sampling the bread, pastries, and fruit that make Paris the culinary capital of the world. My petit-déjeuner this morning featured strawberries that had the most strawberry flavor I’ve ever tasted. For dessert last night, I enjoyed two delicately flavored macarons that melt in your mouth— sitting on my bed at 10:30pm, I savored a pistachio praline macaron and another flavored raspberry and basil. I’m also lucky enough that the monsieur at my homestay is a wonderful cook: last night he made a delicious beef tartare with a balsamic vinegar and tomato salad with tomatoes bought at the market that morning.
Alongside all of these cultural experiences I have been wandering Le Marais (my favorite neighborhood in Paris) and attending the first lectures of my two courses. I can’t wait to explore neighborhoods that I haven’t yet discovered and uncover more about the French “je ne sais quoi” through readings from class and through my encounters with Parisians in restaurants, cafes, and museums. Until next time mes amis!