Where are all the rude waiters, I wondered?
Isn't that supposed to be what Paris is notorious for among U.S. tourists?
I recently returned from a week-long trip to Paris and I have to admit, I didn't encounter a single rude waiter the whole week I was there. In fact, I didn't encounter any snooty French people (or any anti-Americanism) for that matter.
Not only were the waiters not rude, they were often downright friendly; even laughing and cracking jokes at times. It was all the more surprising, given that this was August: a month when virtually every worker in France goes on vacation. You'd think that those few unfortunates who have to stay behind and work, serving tourists, would be grumpy. But this wasn't the case.
I have to confess: at one time, years ago, I did not particularly like France. I have no idea why. I suppose it was just part of being an American. We Americans are pretty much trained from birth to hate the French (even as we're taught to love baseball, hot dogs and apple pie).
My mindless dislike of the French started to evaporate in the 1980s. At the time, I was working 80 and 90 hours a week, just to survive. I worked many years without a single day of vacation (indeed, I usually had to work all the major holidays, including Christmas. Such was life in the newspaper biz).
One day, I read an article in the Financial Times newspaper that talked about how most European workers got at least five weeks of vacation time a year. I thought it must be a misprint. I simply couldn't fathom five weeks of vacation. I began to reconsider my views of the French. Was France really all that bad, I wondered?
I began to really admire France around the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The very fact that the NeoCons despised France make me like that nation even more.
Which raises an interesting question: why, exactly, were the NeoCons so angry at France in the first place? Because the French refused to go along with Bush's stupid war of lies?
And here's something that's even more odd: the NeoCons to this day arestillangry at France. Why? It's beyond my comprehension. If anything, the U.S. owes the French an apology for trying to drag that nation into a disastrous, illegal, immoral war that has slaughtered over 1.3 million Iraqi men, women and children.
The French refused to give up their blood and treasure for this disaster. And for this, the NeoCons are angry at the French? It's bizarre. It seems like the French ought to be the ones who are angry at us.
Anyway, back to my recent visit to Paris.
The Lovely City of Lights
Paris has got to be one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Just about everywhere you look is a picture-postcard view. It's a city in which no one really needs a car. You can simply walk, or take the modern, efficient Metro subway. August in Paris is nothing like my native Texas (when you can fry an egg on the sidewalk). In Paris, the weather is often mild this time of year.
Walking in Paris is a true joy. Indeed the city appears to have been designed with the pedestrian in mind. Or, if you'd like, you can rent a bicycle, from the automated bike stands that are common throughout the city.
On our trip, we hit all the usual, popular Parisian sights. First up, was the amazing Louvre, the national museum of France. It could easily take years to see all the marvels the Louvre offers.