Day 9, Paris 3 (Paris thoughts)

We had to get up early on the morning, I ripped through a shower and then we ran downstairs and had brekkie. We caught the train to Versailles, and a tour guide took us around the gardens. 

In one section, a modern grove, he described the below as ‘supposed to be Louis 14’s dance movements (his hands and feet), but looks more like something from the red light district in Amsterdam’

Good tour, better than just walking around the palace aimlessly. However I would say going in summer is better. There were covered over the stairs to protect the marble from the cold, the trees were bare, there were bugger-all flowers, and the fountains won’t go at all. 

We looked at photos inside, and while it’s nice, it would just be for the photos. The tour was much more worthwhile. You can get a combo ticket of another set of gardens and the palace for two euros more than the price entry price itself (€18) so if you had all day, that woukd be perfect. 

It was actually beautiful

We left and went to get food because my back and hip were hurting (classic Matt) and stopped in a cafe, I believe called Creperie la place Versailles, where we wondered to ourselves, because of the rude server. 

I have been wondering if it’s: 

  • because it is the French culture, 
  • because it’s the fact that we are foreigners, 
  • because it’s the Paris way, 
  • or because of the language barrier,

But I don’t think, other than one single cafe experience near the pantheon, have I felt welcome in Paris. If course unlike Swang I don’t think I’ll be experiencing France outside Paris, so my view is a bit skewed, but everywhere (even when I try to speak French, greet them, and order in French) I’ve gone has been harsh and cold in response to just sitting down for a bite to eat.

In Japan, even though I obviously was a foreigner, and at times we had a language barrier, I almost always felt like people on the other side of the counter etc. we’re friendly and hospitals, but here it seems like they are constantly against us, even if I don’t open my mouth in an attempt to fit in. 

The other thing is that I’m probably biased, I was told by more than one friends to make sure I’m nice and polite because they can be rude to foreigners, which may already have me looking at them in a negative light, but also because of things like the server in the cafe who just seemed angry at everyone and everything. 

Here’s a map of Versailles palace and grounds, to give you an idea of the size, and to break up my rant

Finally, at the train station this afternoon I got into a crowded train and checked that my pockets were all zipped up etc., and carried my bag at my feet instead of on my back. The train was very crowded, and one large man to my left was close. A pamphlet in his hands fell onto my coat and I hadn’t taken notice until I felt a light tugging on my jacket. He was unzipping my pocket, which contained my wallet – a pocket I had always seen as super safe given how it is on me at all times AND it’s a water-proofed zipper, which is a lot stiffer and harder to open. I reached my hand up and realised what he was doing in the commotion as the train was coming to a stop. I immediately pushed him away and he calmly walked into the crowd getting off the train as I told him loudly to get the fuck out. A few people looked over but just turned their heads away, indifferent. I immediately chose an empty seat and made it so no pockets couldn’t be monitored, but after that I started to think I was about ready to leave Paris for Germany, perhaps Heidelberg, which I’ve heard a lot of, from people I know. 

I talked with Nikki and Swang the day before when we were downstairs having dinner in the bar after the boat ride, I was pleased to find out that Nikki didn’t really agree with the stereotypical opinion of Paris. And while I know people will pick holes in my reasoning for not liking my time in France, the fact remains that is how I used my time here and what I felt. I’m glad I did it, but I didn’t like it. I guess I should just be summing up Paris rather than France in general – so, it was rude and unfriendly for the most part, really I found it just a dirty, littered city, it’s lucky it has some incredible history and monuments. Yes I’m pleased I came, no I can’t say it was in any way a city of love as it has been painted as, and no I don’t think I would like to come back. 

So I got back to the hostel and I tried to nap. I had a crisis, and called my girlfriend, ego sorted me out. Half an hour later I was sitting in the bar waiting on my Mediterranean salad, alone, sipping cola with a ticket from Paris, France to Heidelberg, Germany safely locked away in my bag. 

Swang, as the Eiffel tower