Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Paris Lessons

We spent a fantastic ten days in Paris . I really never expected to see Paris and it was more amazing than I imagined. It's hard to take in buildings so old and so beautiful and so full of history. One of the wonderful things were the unexpected lovelies - beautiful doors that opened into secret courtyards with pots of flowers on old stone steps, ceramic street number tiles embedded into old plaster, old couples walking hand-in-hand down tree lined streets, wonderful outdoor markets with every vegetable and fruit artfully presented, and perfect bowls of coffee swirled into foamed milk.

I learned a few things about Paris and unlearned some things as well:

First , contrary to the opinion we often hear, Parisians are friendly, and everyone we met went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Several times our puzzling over the Metro map led to a helpful person stopping to ask if we needed help.

Paris does have a litter problem - probably the six million tourists a year contribute their share. It's not for lack of clean-up - there are crews out from morning to evening sweeping, picking up litter, washing streets, but the input is overwhelming.

Parisians smoke. They smoke a lot.

Parisians take road signs as mere suggestions, drive very fast, even on little side streets, motorcycles and bicycles weave in and out of traffic, and the motorcycles drive and park on the streets- all of which means being a pedestrian requires constant attention!

We decided that there is something to learn from Parisians. Little things can make a big difference in the rituals of the day - making the fabric of our day nicer by not saving up the good stuff for company or some future "special" event. A nice cloth napkin, a flower in an old bottle, a pot of flowers on the deck remind us that it's the little things that matter.

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