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Paris in The Fall
updated: Nov 24, 2012, 4:00 PM

By David Powdrell

My wife and I had never been to Paris before. We've always leaned towards tropical climates with surf. But the opportunity arose and we took it….Paris in the fall.

Snippets from my journal notes: Musee d'Orsey is a sweet museum and the lines are shorter in the fall. 95% of French women wear designer boots. Toy sailboats race fast across the Tuileries water in the fall. Cold winds blow right through you at the top of the Eiffel Tower at night. Nobody smiles or makes eye contact in the Metro subway; faces become intentionally featureless. The tobacco industry is winning the war in Paris. French coffee; strong and to the point. Monet is the man; Sisley is a close second. Fresh warm croissants are sinfully good. Parisian's typically spend over 2 hours at a meal, yet the Paris McDonalds restaurant is reported to be among the highest grossing internationally. "La Ville-Lumière" aka The City of Light makes for interesting photography. We're reminded daily in the Metro that pickpockets are common in Paris, a product of big city life I suspect. The community bicycle stations throughout the city are very cool; would love to see them in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria sometime.

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 346438 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 05:31 PM

gorgeous shots! Thanks for sharing!


 COMMENT 346441 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 05:48 PM

Thanks Dave, I've never been there but I love it. Monet's birthday is the same as mine, November 14.

My two favorite Paris movies are, "Cleo from 5 to 7," and "Paris, je t'aime."


 COMMENT 346444 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 05:54 PM

Some of my memories of Paris: Pretty at night, just another big city by day. Dog-doo everywhere and I do mean EVERYWHERE. Semi-attractive locals whose rudeness is matched only by their horrible breath. Arguing--in French--with a surly waiter over the bill at a sidewalk bistro and winning. Being stared down by a husband and wife on a park bench as they smoked their filthy little Gauloises cigarettes and openly talked about us. Paying the equivalent of $24US for a supermarket rotisserie chicken and $8US for a 7-ounce bottle of Coke on the Champs Elysee. Riding up the rickety elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower and thinking, oh jeez, this lift was built by the same country with the same mechanical genius that was responsible for the Renault Dauphine. I could go on and on. But take heart in the fact that no matter how awful the very true French stereotype is, things are much worse in that regard in Quebec. Especially Quebec City. And unlike Paris, Quebec City doesn't have the skyline or the Seine as a redeeming social value.

Great pictures of Paris, though. I was so busy avoiding pickpockets that I didn't even take my Nikon out of its case when I was there.


 COMMENT 346446P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 06:03 PM

REX, it's a sure bet the French won't be asking you to write up any tourism brochures!

Pretty amusing, though. I like it when people are brutally honest. French do have a reputation to uphold, it seems, as far as arrogance goes.

Haven't been there since 1973, and my experience was seen through the eyes of a young woman. I did love the chestnut pastries and hot chestnuts.


 COMMENT 346447 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 06:04 PM

Been to Paris twice, loved it, the Eiffel Tower at night!! The Louvre, Montmartre, the best chocolate shops anywhere, a patisserie early in the am and then getting a baguette for your lunch with some incredible cheeses. Don' t buy anything on the Champs Élysées, everything is 4 times the normal. Go 1 block over and the Parisians can be friendly and helpful. We did have one rude waiter, did the same as I would do here, LEFT.


 COMMENT 346467P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 07:32 PM

Thanks for the photos which stirred my memory ashes of the year I lived in Paris, lucky to find a 5th floor walkup room, no heat, communal bath down the street. I would nurse a coffee for hours in cafes, studyied French at the Alliance Francaise and refused to know any other Americans (why be with Americans when I was there for the French and France!), taught English to whoever could afford to pay me, waiters, waiters' children at Deux Magot and Cafe de Flore. I wandered throughout the city. It was a glorious, lonely, lovely, wonderful year and I hated beyond description to leave. Thanks, Dan, for the mention of Cleo de 5 a 7 - I'll have to look at it again; it was a favorite film. Did you see the recent Woody Allen, Midnight at Paris? A bit slurpy but beautiful photography.

Again, Dave, thanks for the photos - I particularly liked the 5th, of the boats (on the Seine?)


 COMMENT 346468P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 07:35 PM

overcome by memories I didn't spellcheck: studied - and most egregious: should be Deux Magots.


 COMMENT 346474 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 08:02 PM

I didn't see the latest Woody Allen film. Cleo is in my top five favorites. With Star Wars, Manhattan, and a few others.

But Cleo is so good. The fear of death in two hours, while in Paris on the Summer Solstice. What could be better?


 COMMENT 346498 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-24 10:14 PM

Ahhhh, Paris in the Fall. I was in Paris in the Fall of 1972, I was a teenager. The very first McDonald's was just being built along the Champs Elysees...quite the scandal at that time. My parents drug me and my older brother to Europe for 2 months, taking us out of school. We didn't want to go...can you imagine? I wish I had a do-over of that trip, but for the most part we enjoyed it, and I especially have fond memories of Paris...I will return again someday, but for now I can enjoy your journey and your lovely photos. Especially like the abstract one...Monet?


 COMMENT 346505 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 12:38 AM

Are we talking about the same Paris? The one in France? Where living in Paris means never having to say you're sorry? The home of the rudest people on the planet? THAT Paris?

Yes, Paris has culture, wonderful pastries and trinkets you can't buy in Santa Barbara. So does Solvang. (Well, except for the culture thing, unless you count PCPA and Danish Days). The difference is that people in Solvang aren't openly hostile to tourists and don't snarl at them.

I have traveled on four continents and have visited every state in the U.S. except Alaska and every province of Canada except the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, and have had a wonderful time pretty much everywhere. Except Paris. Where I found pretty much every negative stereotype I'd ever heard to be true.

I guess I'm just kind of amazed that no one else here has experienced the same kind of rudeness/nastiness in Paris that I did. I was nothing but polite and friendly to the Parisites (yeah, I know), yet they responded time and again with sarcasm, rudeness and open hostility.

People complain about New Yorkers being rude? Hah! Compared to the Parisites, New Yorkers in their native element are the most refined, genteel people on earth.


 TROLLEY TOM agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 06:33 AM

Been to Paris several times and love it..spring, summer heat, and fall. Every time it has been pure joy. We stay in small hotels, eat simple food, WALK everywhere or use the Metro. Truly an amazing city and one of our favorites.


 COMMENT 346518 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 06:53 AM

We were in Paris this past summer, for the first time, and our experience was the exact opposite of Rex's. no dog poo, friendly nice people, I wasn't robbed, truly enjoyed it. I didn't buy a coke on the Champs Ellysee, but then I wouldn't buy one on Rodeo Drive either.


 COMMENT 346520 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 07:01 AM

I've been there twice on business and although I don't usually like cities, I thought Paris was a delight. Incomparably beautiful, and the people were helpful and polite, not hostile at all. The only hint of the fabled French attitude was the waiter who curled his lip when I asked for salad instead of the featured first course. That was funny. Please don't let the negative comments here deter you from having a wonderful experience in Paris.


 COMMENT 346521 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 07:05 AM

p.s. Rex, I didn't find New Yorkers to be rude either. What do you suppose that means?


 COMMENT 346522P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 07:17 AM

Oh you're breaking my heart David. Paris is my favorite city; probably the only one I could actually live in. That water shot with the reflection of the trees is pure Monet. Thank you, thank you.


 COMMENT 346525 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 07:54 AM

@ARTEMISIA: Actually, I don't find New Yorkers to be rude either. I think outsiders mistake New Yorkers' directness and outspokenness for rudeness. I was just citing New Yorkers as an example of people who are stereotypically perceived of as rude. The Parisians, however, seem to mean it.


 POWDRELL agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 08:59 AM

Our experiences with waiters, shop owners and people on the street were all good. One young waiter went giddy when we said we were from California. He couldn't wait to visit it.

That said, we preferred being in the quieter side of Paris; the parks on the outskirts of the city, the tiny restaurants in Montmartre and the museums less frequented. We had no incidents of pickpockets but were constantly reminded to be careful.

Aqua...yes, the photo of the water with the reflections was my attempt to be Monet. I needed some lilies in there. :-)

Thanks for the tips on French movies. Time to reset my queue at NetFlix.


 COMMENT 346615P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 12:04 PM

REXSB - Have you been to Normandy? If not, I highly recommend you go. In fact, every American who visits Europe should go; if only to pay their respects at the American cemetaries. The closer you get to the coast, the friendlier to Americans the locals are. Then, there are three flags flying everywhere, on many buildings: the European Union flag, the French flag, and the American flag. I happened to visit near Memorial Day weekend and every grave had a small American flag on it and wildflowers, place by the locals. Our group shared a community table with a French family at a public wine tasting. When two women in their late seventies found out we were American, they insisted we go to their home the next day for a seven course meal. The French, in general, are not friendly. But they are not friendly to anyone...including other French people. But the people of Normandy have not forgotten that the Americans saved them from Hitler.


 COMMENT 346643 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 01:22 PM

@615P: No, I've never been to Normandy. I've only been 200 km or so outside Paris. But the further you go from Paris, the nicer the locals become. France itself is okay--it's just the Parisians who are a pain in the derriere.


 COMMENT 346709P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-25 06:15 PM

Great photos - thanks so much. I've been to Paris several times and it's one of the few cities I never tire of. I'll go back as many times as I can. I don't travel expecting to be "kowtowed" to....how many people who complain about the French even attempt to speak their language? Or do we just expect the world to cater to us in English?


 COMMENT 346933 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-11-26 02:33 PM

Well, Rex, we'll have to say we are so sorry that you let the few negatives over power your experience. Especially after what it costs to get there and stay there on a visit. I have been there four times and absolutely loved it. Just like any other place, you just focus on all the good stuff and ignore the rest.


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