“I wonder how much lung cancer I’ve accumulated in the two days I’ve been here.” This is what my best friend who was visiting asked randomly while we were going on one of my out-of-the-way kind of walks through Paris. At first I was confused… “You know, from all the second-hand smoke,” she clarified. This friend happens to be extremely well traveled, has lived in big cities, and can make cross-cultural comparisons better than anyone I know. So when she observes that the French smoke a lot, it is because they really do smoke, a lot. And it’s true. While most cities have discouraged smoking in every way possible, Paris almost welcomes it. Why do you think all the terraces have those exterior lamp heaters? It is not to make it more comfortable for the tourists.
Perfume (and lots of it):
I don’t know if the perfume overdose is due to France’s reputation as the world’s greatest perfumier, or if it is covering up other odors, but either way there are potent scents to be discovered every day. And, in my experience, the French are very vocal about what they smell: “Mmmm, ça sent bon.” Whether you’re a N. 5 or Guerlain girl, Parisian women are willing to go on quests to discover their signature scent.
I don’t think I loved Sundays this much until I moved to Paris. People relish their Sundays here. They go to the market, see an exhibit, take the whole family to the park, go for brunch. If you don’t do a brunch menu in Paris, you’re nobody. Steaming coffee, fresh juice, a savory egg dish, a buffet of sweet cakes… Brunch is where it’s at. And while the croissant might seem like the breakfast staple, many people actually reserve it for the late night snack, on the walk home from a soirée (late night munchies people).