12 Oct Paris: A multilingual mini-break
Straight after my lunchtime shift last Friday, The Greek and his beaten up Fiat Punto arrived to pick me up and whisk me away to Paris.
Now that’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself say.
After a Greek lesson on the plane, a coach journey from Beauvais Airport – which, frankly, must be nearer London than Paris judging by how long it took to get to the centre – and a little trip on the Métropolitain, we arrived at our hotel, with a view over a little square filled with patisseries pumping out the sweet smell of croissants from morning to night. An excellent start.
Anyway, important to mention that we had flown off to the French capital under the pretense of going to the Paris Motor Show where one of the cars The Greek had designed was being displayed, so on Saturday morning we spent a grand total of no more than one and a half hours at the Expo Porte de Versailles, having a short wander around before deciding that we’d both rather get out of there, go somewhere nice for lunch, and then just do some touristing.
In the almost-three days, we managed to get up the Eiffel Tower (where The Greek was not impressed to have to pay full price for a ticket with A for Adulte stamped on it in big, bold lettering, whilst I got a reduced rate for being J for Jeune), go on an extremely touristy but “When in Paris” dinner cruise down the Seine, wander up to the Sacré Coeur, climb the hundreds of steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and take a very long walk down the river bank too, just in time to, oddly and unexpectedly, see hundreds of Asian brides congregated in the Place de la Concorde.
Obviously, between touristic activities, we were able to make time for Nutella crêpes, macaroons, incredibly delicious baked goods, and a fair quantity of vin rouge, and the most delicious ribs I’ve ever eaten (with caramel sauce… drool…) at the fairly touristy but totally delicious Un Zebre A Montmartre. Even the vast quantities of terrible, watery (not to mention overpriced) coffee couldn’t ruin my mood.
Obviously, being Northern Europe, it was raining for the majority of the time, but having never been to Paris when it wasn’t, I can only assume that the perpetual drizzle adds to the atmosphere. And of course the Brit had packed her umbrella…
Aside from being touristy and great, the Paris trip was also one of the most multilingual weekends I’ve ever had. The Greek and I always speak in English, but Italian is a good fallback if one of us (he) can’t explain what they want to, and seeing as he’s teaching me Greek, he says the odd thing here and there if he thinks I’ll be able to understand it (and usually if it’s not about the time, food, or numbers, I don’t). Aside from being useful between ourselves, the other languages are quite handy when trying to talk about people (embarrassing foreign tourists) without them understanding, so we had a little moan in Italian about the total ignorance of a group of them having a loud and ridiculous conversation in front of us in the queue for some tourist trap or other, and even managed a little conversation in Greek about a couple sitting next to us at a restaurant, despite the fact that the main objective of learning a new language should possibly not be to use it to bitch about other people without them knowing…
Obviously I attempted to speak a little bit of French too, and even managed some Spanish whilst asking some fellow shameless tourists to take a photo. Language graduate success.
The Parisian mini-break already seems like a distant and pain-au-chocolat-filled memory now that I’m back in Bella Italia once again, but on the plus side, the Italians do know how to make coffee right, so now I appreciate it, and the warmer weather, that little bit more…