Paris bits and pieces

1 Apr
By now I am used to functioning in two languages. I understand most of what I see in print in Italian, with the exception of the newspaper as it is written in run-on sentences with obscure terminology and archaic verb tenses. When someone speaks directly to me, I understand most of what they are saying if I get the context to start. When I need to communicate me la cavo (I get along) even if my grammar is not perfect.
When we embarked on our trip to Paris I was hit by the realization that I would not understand much of anything from menus to street signs, and I certainly would  not understand spoken French.  Going to France was the most foreign thing we had done since we first traveled to Italy in 2010.
We found ourselves speaking in an odd combination of Italian and English. I am used to speaking Italian to our servers, technicians and shop people in Italy, so that’s the first language that sprang from my lips, combined with mangled French pronunciation. “Prendo il boeuf bourguignon, per favore.” I could not get past grazie to merci until mid-week. In one restaurant, we mixed up languages sufficiently to have the waitress convinced we were Italians who spoke little English. When we said “Merci bonsoir” at the end of the evening, she cheerily replied “Grazie, anche a te!”
There was little hope for me in pronouncing French street names. My Italian-addled brain insists that “Place” must be pronounced PLAH-chay. Once in awhile we’d hear Italian being spoken by other visitors and it was a joy to hear and understand.
Shopping in a French market reminded me of our first trip to Italy when we tried to figure out what things were. Like in Italy, lots of offal was available, from tripe to lambs heads (sorry vegetarians). The Super U was rather ordinary, but some of the shops are magnificent. We found ourselves taking a lot of pictures of store windows and displays.
Here are some Easter treats. Each store had a theme: fish, chickens, cows, even a little mole poking his head above the ground. All gorgeous and expensive. Click on any picture for a slide show.
Fashion windows are creative and the bakeries difficult to resist. The bejeweled athletic-style shoes are Dior. I love the ducks sporting sunglasses and the colorful men’s accessories. Ric showed no interest in blue shoes.


Avocados, artichokes and cabbages are arranged attractively. I wish I had taken a picture of the huge strawberries artfully displayed. In the Place du Madeleine area, boutiques with high-end chocolates, teas, cheeses, and wines seemed like museums. 


We also found time to see the major sites as we wandered the city. At the end of seven days of tromping about Paris my pedometer reported 162,222 steps. We covered some ground, but there’s so much left on the list that we must go back…but later in the spring so we can enjoy the gardens and maybe take our coats off. 

8 Responses to “Paris bits and pieces”

  1. jetjet2 April 4, 2015 at 22:55 #

    Hi did you find the Parisians more receptive and cooperative with your Italian than if you had used the American English solely?

    Sent from my iPhone



    • gooddayrome April 5, 2015 at 06:01 #

      Interesting question! I was not of the opinion anyone minded our American-ness. We do try to observe European manners, though, and that speaks louder than language.


  2. Marcia Kakiuchi April 2, 2015 at 02:02 #

    Oh my heavens – those Easter treats are absolutely amazing and yes, I’m sure VERY expensive! Thanks for sharing. And kudos for knowing Italian like you do. That truly is a wonderful skill to have.


    • gooddayrome April 2, 2015 at 04:35 #

      Hi Marcia! Prices were ridiculous, even with the better exchange rate! I really acquired some insight into my skills. Not completely fluent, but clearly making progress!


  3. debbie Fischer April 1, 2015 at 15:49 #

    love, love your blog, Laurel! Thanks for keeping it going. Pics and stories are great and 162K steps. . wow!


    • gooddayrome April 2, 2015 at 04:33 #

      Ciao Deb, and thanks! Hope the post wasn’t too long. So much to say…, See you in August, I hope!


  4. Chloe April 1, 2015 at 15:19 #

    Wonderful photos. My husband also shows no interest in European shoes and finds them ridiculous. Must be a marine thing. The end of April is a nice time to visit Paris as it is generally colorful. We return in a couple of weeks, which assures me of two springs in my life, never a bad thing.


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