If you braid your hair in France, no matter what style of braid, is it still a French braid? These are the deep philosophical questions in my mind whilst I get ready for class in the morning.
In Paris, everyone looks put together all the time. There's none of this jeans and t-shirt stuff, sweatpants in public, or even unkempt hair. Not everyone wears expensive or even stylish clothes, but there's certainly an effort that goes into appearance that Americans, New Yorkers even, do not have. I'll happily walk down St. Mark's in my pajamas to get my morning coffee before I return home to start the day, and not a head will turn. But in Paris, sacre bleu, this would be taboo.
Luckily, all the cute sundresses I packed to look fabulous during my Parisian summer are completely wrong for the weather. It's been freezing! By freezing, I mean in the 60s, which is damn cold for a halter dress. Parisian women wear tights under their shorts, blazers over tank tops, and somehow still look chic in this cool summer weather. I look slightly crazy layering one of the two sweaters I packed over a dress better suited for the heatwave that's currently consuming NYC. Guess I just have to go shopping...
The best way to see a city is to experience it like the locals do. (Oh hey, Inside New York). I was told to visit canal Saint Martin, which is apparently the hipster version of the Seine. Of course it is.
My friends and I set out after class in search of this hipster haven, where we would certainly meet amazing French hipsters who could take us around the city on their Vespas. (Spoiler: no meeting or Vespa-ing occurred)
After crossing the Seine and navigating the Boulevard vs Rue dilemma, we found the canal! It was as gorgeous as a green polluted artificial waterway could be.
Settling down among the hip young Parisians, we unpacked our picnic and turned streamed Indie music, blending in perfectly with our French counterparts. Maybe. Or we were just American posers trying far too hard...
Crowds around the canal were definitely less mainstream than those huddled around the Seine during the evenings. People came to read, fish (for litter?), smoke, and drink while watching boats pass through the iron bridges and down the canal.
As the sun set, we decided to walk to the Marais, another supposedly hip area popular with Orthodox Jews and Queer Parisians. So basically, Brooklyn.
We window-shopped in adorable vintage stores that were closed for the evening and after skipping past an abundance of male-only bars, found a cute art bar, Le Baroc, to sit down and chat in. The owner, a spunky Italian named Susana soon made conversation with my friend's artist boyfriend, who soon drew her portrait. Ah, France.
Susana apparently knew everyone in the neighborhood, old and young, foreign and local, greeting them with kisses and bringing them drinks which she immediately charged them for (in Paris, bills don't usually come until the customer is absolutely finished drinking, and even then you usually have to wait a while). While I love seeing the sights and art of the cities I travel to, my absolute favorite part is meeting the characters, which was certainly something we accomplished tonight.
The strangest part about travelling is seeing someone else's daily routine as a novelty. Something intriguing to me, such as a vending machine that prepares made-to-order cafe au lait (yes, these are awesome), is merely part of someone else's everyday life.
I cannot count the number of times I've rolled my eyes at tourist taking pictures on the MTA. Seriously, get over it, it's just a train. People ride it. Be a person.
Anyways, I felt like one of these people tonight as I took the Metro home. During the transfer between stops, we encountered a hall significantly longer than the path between the 1/2/3 and the L at 14th St (If you're a New Yorker you know this is the worst, even if you can pick up McDonald's Wifi during the walk).
Ugh, more walking. But wait- a moving sidewalk! In a subway station? Well done, France. At the end of the moving sidewalk was a fruit stand, a bathroom, and a few vending machines. It may close ridiculously early, but the Parisian subway definitely gives the MTA some tough competition...