As our tiny plane made the short jump from the East Midlands airport to Charles De Gaul in Paris, my expectations were pretty high. Even filling out our customs form filled my head with delusions of grandeur. The customs official would be stunned "Americaine? But you speak French so well!" I'd modestly turn away my gaze "No, no, you are too kind." And saunter confidently into Paris and my new Parisian lifestyle.
We were in Paris for less than a week, and it was every bit as beautiful as every romantic has described it. The whole lifestyle of a Parisian seems aimed at living a life of high quality. The corner boulangerie has fabulous non-mass produced loaves every day. The apartment buildings are not built beyond 6 stories and all are done in an architectural style befitting this gorgeous city.
I had hoped my basic knowledge of French and "excellent ear for pronunciation" as my high school teacher had put it, would allow me to blend in and pass for one of the gorgeous locals. Apparently this requires more than two years study in high school and a thin French phrase book. I became very grateful to the random English-speaking customers who would come forward at the wine shop when I would stammer in French "C'est vin-- doux ou sec?" Because, of course, as soon as I uttered the phrase I'd forget which meant sweet and which meant dry. But, contrary to all American propaganda, the French were very kind and did not laugh at my mediocre grasp of basic French.
Funniest moment of the first two days: the ever-adventurous Ryan orders steak tartar for lunch. (For those of you who have missed out, this is basically raw beef, eggs, and onion) And the waitress asked "Are you sure? Do you know what this is?" He nodded and she said "No, a lot of Americans don't like this. Are you sure?" He was, but this left a little concern with the rest of the table and our already growing suspicion of E. Coli contamination. However, he seems to have survived thus far.