Paris is still Paris

I can't say much about Paris that hasn't been said before. Our short visit included little beyond the most popular tourist sites so my photos are also clichés. But I can tell you that in spite of recent news reports of suburban violence and car burnings, Paris is still a thriving and beautiful city to visit in the autumn. The crowds are much smaller and tourism industry employees are less frazzled than they were during our August 1999 visit. Thanks to the help of our friends and our two-year-old ambassador we were much better prepared this time and had a great experience. We found a clean, comfortable hotel near the Bastille and visited some popular sites as well as our current favorite museum, Musée national du Moyen Âge Nearly everyone we met was friendly and helpful. The cool weather allowed us to ditch the usual American tourist uniform; baseball cap, T-shirt and sneakers and instead wear a sweater, overcoat and leather shoes. We weren't nearly as well dressed as the average Parisian but I think it helped. We also tried to learn how to greet people, thank them and apologise for our language skills, in French. It really surprised me when a French woman asked me directions. I wish I'd known how to say, "Do I look like I know what I'm doing?" in French. As soon as our daughter got over the disappointment that we were going to the city Paris and not her cousin Paris, she seemed to enjoy it too. We will certainly try to return someday.

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