The French are very particular about the way they transport themselves from one place to another.
In other large cities around the planet, people just hop into a cab, or walk down to the subway, or a catch a bus.
The French, and, you might think this only applies to Paris, but honestly the same goes for Lyon, or Bordeaux, or Brives La Gaillarde which is like a less well known city in the middle of nowhere, or any other smaller town.
The French first make a very well thought decision on how they are going to get from A to B.
Honestly, they usually do not like the subway, that they consider ' un peu trop populaire" which is only " a little bit too populated" like the next human being is not to be mixed with, in too close a fashion.
The bus ranks slightly better, " mais c'est moins fiable " or " but it is less reliable." Then there is, of course the new system : UBER, whose drivers, the French will tell you, " Ah ils sont toujours charmants" or " Ah they are always charming" which is something you have to take into account as the French are always charmants too, due to possibly lack of good food, lack of good social coverage, lack of good new fiction books, lack of good movies, lack of good weather, lack of good boulangerie, in a few words, the multiple issues that the French have to daily endure.
But, apart from UBER, there is one thing that the french will beam about, it is their bicyclette. Nothing, they will explain to you can top your list as the best way of transportation, and it is when they can cycle themselves to B from A.
First it is easy to park, you don't have to park in these forbidden places like a Parisian will usually do with his tiny Italian car :
So, as they explain to you, you can park anywhere but you will have to " l'attacher' or " secure it to a post", " parce qu'il n'y a plus de securite aujoud'hui " or " there's no safety anymore today."
So you need a safety device. Then, the most important thing, because when you get to B, you will probably buy some fresh eggs, or a pair of shoes, so you need a "panier" or a basket.
No worthy bikes will be seen without its basket securely attached,
in the front :
or in the back :
and then you have the queen of french bikes, which in fact is manufactured in the Nederland,
" le velo hollandais" or " the Dutch bike"
This is the very best. As you can see, it is black, shiny, basket in front, and then check the old fashioned leather saddle, none of those comfortable plastic new composite, and then check the leather handles too, all in that nice tan leather color which reeks of distinction and elegance.
And you can see the seat has been lifted to a really high point as well as the handle, you can bet this is the property of a tall lanky gentleman who will ride it with a soft wool blue scarf around his neck, grey flannel pants, blue blazer, and of course no helmet. We will have none of these vulgar fake nylon outfits for cyclist champs.
So, once you have got yourself that Dutch bicycle with the basket, and the woolen scarf, you can now take yourself to B, which means, first the cheese store :
True, that store looks a little derelict, but this is The cheese store in Paris. There are inside about 352 different cheeses, and the salesperson there will look at you when you say something like I would like to buy this camembert, and she will look at you with big frowning eyes, and say " Ah non, pas celui-la ! " or ' Ah no, not that one !" like you pointed at a disaster. And then, if she likes you, she will whisper that one will be done in four days, " mais pour l'instant c'est du platre !" or " but for now it's plaster !"
As of course, the saleslady and you have tasted plaster before in your life, and it is not that good. And you will walk away with a completely different cheese than the one you were firmly decided on.
Then you will stop at the locksmith because the key to your apartment has definitely some issue, so you stop at the Serrurerie, and you know it is the right store since it has a huge key hanging above the door,
Then you decide to go check the tile store, since your bathroom needs some work, and you look at the front window which has a selected choice like the Naturals :
and now you are not too sure if you want to fix the bathroom, so instead you go check the next store, because you need to replace your glasses, and that store is called:
as you can see Voyeurs, this making you a little iffy, since you are a sensitive and sensible American, you decide to pass on replacing your pair of glasses, which after all lets you still see quite well les Voyeurs, you hop to the next store which is an art gallery, as art will soothe your frazzled senses, and you see that its title is :
which means, "waiting for the barbarians," and suddenly everything around you seems pretty bizarre anyway.
So you decide you would rather go back to Le Bon Marche, where at least there seems to be some sense to life, and there, while it is still pretty much winter, borderline freezing spring, you can check that they have a department called :
' LE BAIN DE MER" which literally means "THE SEA BATH," and it features that little doll in the center which is a vintage doll that appeared in France in the late twenties called Le Baigneur, The Bather, made in celluloid, and they were, at the time, not very expensive dolls, and every french little girl had one, and every french little brother would try to secretly destroy it, as the French, we know, can be at rare times slightly aggressive.
Anyway, it seems Le Bon Marche had found a cache of celluloid Baigneurs, and they even had them lined hanging down above one of their displays of expensive swim suits :
These poor hanging dolls upside down did not quite do the trick of restoring your sense of balance, so that is when you decide to walk away, and stop at the little public garden nearby, and there, at the end of the afternoon you can see two little kids playing soccer, like any kid would do in the twenties or the thirties or the forties or any time since, and there, suddenly, you feel the world might be all right after all,
It is the end of the day, Paris smells like early spring, you can hear the birds and the kick of the ball, and all is well.
With all love,