Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Perfect Paris

"Ze bread iz 4 Euroz pleaz monsiuer"

I didn’t actually ask for bread but much is the limits of my French that our culinary delights in Paris this weekend consisted of "Pain au Chocolate", Croissants and Orange Juice. I knew GCSE French would come in handy someday. If only they had a table tennis table for me to say that I like "playing on" ("je joue" for the French illiterates) then I would have been made. That really is the limits of my French.

I find that you can get a long way in other non-English speaking countries (and in life generally) by muttering, pointing, shrugging and just smiling inanely at people - if nothing else they think your crazy and you usually get what you want quickly without the pointless conversations that it seems French people like to indulge in when they food shop.

So this weekend myself and my girlfriend (who for the purposes of this blog we will call CM) spent three nights in Paris. I love Paris. It was CM's first visit to the glorious city and I was keen to get her initial impression. I remember my first time in Paris; I was inspired by the culture, the cuisine, the weather, the cosmopolitan feel to every little backroad bar and restaurant. Her first comment consisted of, "everyone looks like they do in the Tricolore books!". To those that don’t know, Tricolore is a textbook that accompanied French Lessons in English schools during the late 80's-early-90s! She hit the nail right on the head with that one.

The Tricalore workbook features sections dedicated to different situations you might find yourself in, in France; Shopping, Eating Out, Playing Sport, etc - these sections featured black and white photos of (very badly dressed) French people in that particular situation. The books at our school were probably about 10 years old, and these photos would almost certainly be accompanied by biro scribblings, courtesy of a rebelious 13 year old kid, of extra-ordinarily large penises for the boys and breasts for the lady (not ones to leave out the female the kids at our school!) - although some of the girls in the book did look like boys so it was hard to tell. If you were lucky, then you might get a big biro speech bubble of them telling each other what they wanted to do. For some reason, that wasn’t translated into French.

je joue au tennis de table

Anyway, we had an awesome time and did all of the perennial tourist sights; Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Champs Elysee, Arc de Triumphe, ate some magnificent food, drank some great wine, bought a beret, we somehow managed to insult numerous French people, and we then flew home.

So our flight home is at 8:35am French Time, which is 7:35 UK time = getting up frickin early. CM did the normal thing of setting her alarm about 3 hours before she needs to be up so she can press snooze 12,000 times. We now have to check, double and triple check everything before leaving as we've both got an annoying habit of losing and forgetting things. You would have thought that as we were only going for a three night break, that there wouldn’t be a great deal to lose or forget. Think again.

Things we forgot/lost:

- Entire make-up bag
- Wallet with all credit cards
- *My Black jumper
- Address or any contact information of hotel
- 20EURO note (which also happened to double up as money for our taxi to the airport)
- New jumper from Zara on Champs Elysee
- Adapter plug
- Mobile Phone Charger

*Not actually lost. This was left on the chair in the restaurant by CM, on purpose I think. Her plot was foiled after the French waiter ran after us clutching it in his hands.

If the results of your calculations are anything like mine, then you'd have worked out that we averaged two lost/forgotten items per day. Not a great average considering that we will soon be adding a baby to our list of responsibilities. We did however, immediately start work on re-addressing the balance:

Things we borrowed/stole:

- One Hotel Towel for our second toilet at home

- The entire contents of the mini-bar; replacing the spring water with tap water, the box of peanuts with hotel soap (same weight) and the toblerone carefully opened and the emply box simply turned the other way round back into the fridge.

- Two Further (and later, ruined) Hotel Towels to be used as a cushion to stop the dripping tapping noise outside the window. This later turned into a splatting noise so the towels life was taken in vain.

- One Coke Can from the minibar. Although not actually drank, the coke can provided the perfect door-stop for the lift doors, thus preventing the lift (which was conveniently positioned outside our room) from moving up and down the noisy shaft between the hours of 11pm and 9am (our sleeping time). We then had major guilt feelings of little old lady with big suitcase who’s room was on the top floor and immediately removed it, and later drank the coke.

All in all it was a great break, and I'd thoroughly recommend Paris to anyone. If you go and you just happen to be staying in a hotel just off the Champs Elysee in room 525 then I suggest checking your mini-bar, towel stash and remote control batteries (as if we would!) before checking in.

mmmmini bar