I’ve been obsessed with France since I was a little girl. It’s not something far off since I was born and raised in New Orleans, a place known for its French influence, from the language to the food. In elementary, we had a project that entailed us building monuments using only popsicle sticks. It was only right that I chose the Eiffel Tower. I stared at a picture of the Eiffel Tower daily in order to get every detail right. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen—the tower not my project (that was a disaster). I learned it’s history and promised I’d see it for real one day. In high school I had the opportunity to take French. I studied it for four years driving my Mom and sister insane. I was good at it, but I didn’t keep practicing after graduation.
Society: girls like me don’t get those types of opportunities.
I’m here, right now. That little girl in therapy that I promised to heal and give everything she deserved as a child is here, in the middle of Paris with access to her obsession : The French and the Eiffel Tower. Hands down the best birthday present ever. I’m coming 33.
It’s my Jesus year—that’s what she said.
*Commercial Break: be with someone that will show you and tell you that there is nothing beyond your grasp. Oh, and fuck TSA.*
France was a whole ass experience. There was no existing in it. I lived it from the moment I was granted access by way of passport.
The language slaps you in the face as soon as you join their world. It’s beautiful, it’s fast, and pretty damn easy to pick up. I was Bonjour-ing and Bonsoir-ing my way through Paris by nightfall, night one. I had Euros in my pocket—which looks like Monopoly money by the way—and I was ready for whatever. I’m down like that. Danger? What is that really? TUH! Check exchange rates before you travel because it goes up and down depending on the economy. A smart woman taught me this. She teaches me a lot. I’m still low-key salty that my American cash of $431 only got me $310 Euros. That’s a whole ass rant for another day. This is the reason I don’t like ATM’s. Why I gotta pay for my money? Bruh. Anyways, I did like the fact that I could use my debit card in another country. LIT. (Call your bank though or that decline is going to hurt in a deep place.)
Before we go any further on this amazing and exhilarating journey, can we talk about the luxury ass plane ride? I’m just going to list it out for you : comfort+ (basically first fucking class), warm, wet towels to clean your hands with, two bomb ass meals w/ options and deserts, dope ass flight attendants that literally never sat down and catered to every single passenger, my own overhead bin, free entertainment, and I was right next to a restroom (milly rocks). My Taurus and my bladder have never been more pleased. There may or may not have been an attractive woman next to me with a window seat that was even cute while she was asleep. I’m not a creep, so I digress.
There was, however, a black woman (French) that started the flight with a full blowout. By the end, mama had a full head of individual twist. I lived for the protective style and the international blackness.
Now the journey.
RER from the airport to the hotel and not knowing how the hell to read French was an anxiety attack in itself. Stepping on this train was all faith and crossed fingers with the hope it was going in the right direction because there were two. Shoutout to Google Maps though. I thought I’d get to see a lot of scenery on the train, but all I got was trees like I was rolling through Birmingham, Alabama. There was LOTS of graffiti and people all up in my personal space. Parisians don’t have boundaries. A dude came and sat right in front of me with a million open seats available. His knees touched mine and everything. This made me realize how American I was and that I’ve been in Seattle way too long. We stand even with empty seats if its too close to another human. Weird flex to me now. I been in people’s personal space since I returned. You ain’t gotta talk to me, but ima sit right here. K? Cool. Also, the train was slow as hell. That ride felt like it was two hours long. Whew.
M6 Etoille was the next train—NOT NATION— jokes all jokes. M6 would be the train of the trip and pay attention because not all of the doors will open. There’s a knob that you have to pull to open the door and for some reason I refused to touch it. At the connect/transfer there was a devastating discovery of three stories of stairs with no escalator or elevator.
Leg day is everyday!
A carry-on, a camera bag, and a full 50 lb suitcase. A bitch got her cardio, okay? I really wish I had worn my Fitbit, because I’m so curious about how many steps I took this past week. I could insert a burn in here about a wild goose chase for an elevator or an escalator, but I won’t. I’ll just say I was right. Convenience and choices are only for Americans, and Parisians can smell it on us. We reek.
I’m not complaining, because even with the long trek, the hotel was convenient as fuck. Okay, slightly, don’t get to Paris too early, the room will not be ready until 12 hours as the beautiful, flamboyant front desk clerk put it in his cute French accent and pigeon English. Noon, it was ready at noon. Still, this location was perfectly selected. One mile from the Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, The Catacombs, and anything that you can think to do in Paris. AND I got to simply be a local. Parisians aren’t like us. Whenever someone says to me they are going to New Orleans for an event, I’m like, meh. Been there don’t that. Not Parisians. They marvel at their city and visit the attractions just as much as tourist. You see families and people on dates with the same excitement in their eyes as someone like me, seeing it all for the first time. Even the hotel was filled with guest that were French. I saw two Americans in a week. I know I keep circling back to this hotel. I loved it. The staff was amazing and hella accommodating from the one iron that stayed in the room for six days to the map they printed for me with a list of gyms. Madrigal, book it.
I really miss my window, too.
I did a week of Paris fashion and everyday was perfect, except day one. I put on the wrong shoes and I want a do over. There are quite a few things I’m going shopping for because I aspire to look more French. More stripes, more boots, more jackets, more hats, more leather, lots of scarves. Ugh! I LIVED FOR THEM. Especially the black people. I hope y’all got time, because this blog is a whole novella. The women walked everywhere in heels. You can’t pay me to NOT put my heels in my bag when I ride the train. I’ll switch at my destination.
**Commercial break : bring washcloths. It’s the only thing the hotel didn’t have.
The words I learned:
Ouvert - Open
Sortie - exit
Tartar - raw ground beef
Bon Soir- good evening
Bonjour - hello
S’il vous plait - if you please
Tu es la- you are here
Champignons - Mushroom
Avocat - avocado
Saumon - Salmon
Oh, commas over periods. American = $4.50 / French = € 4,50
I’m not even about to sit here and talk about the whole ass debate I had about the word tomato. Just know that we have “tamaytoes” in America and “tomahtoes” in France. Okay? Okay. At a random ass fair across the street from the Eiffel a cashier stared at me wide-eyed trying to understand wtf a “tamayto” could possibly be. Just a few booths down lived a man with the spirit of a loyal disciple. I think about him now as I stare at the rainbow bracelet he tied around my wrist for luck. I'd have to cut It off and I'm not exactly okay with that.
Before I got there people kept telling me that the French are rude. Well, that wasn’t my experience at all. They were impatient though. If they are trying to get somewhere, you better move or get bulldozed. A few did skip the line at the Eiffel tower and that turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. It was an Indian couple that let them skip without a word. Leave it to a black man to say “nah.” Bro jumped over the bar to reclaim his place. This is why I love my people because we have a universal language. We walked past each other with a smile, a head-nod, and a wrist bump, because good fucking job. I called that moment the “homie moment.” If that isn’t funny enough, when he got to the front where there was a split, he let damn near 30+ ppl from the other side go ahead of him just to make the skippers wait. It’s the level of petty that I aspire to be.
It’s so hard not to get ahead of myself, so just stick with me. I have to talk about the food. The French prepare food with a different type of love. I only gained two pounds, which I’m sure would have been more had I not walked the whole city several times. The FOOD. The omelets. The fresh baked bread. YOU MUST EAT BREAD. I’ll just let pictures do the talking for me.
Prepare to sit. There is no rushing in French restaurants, unless it's closing time, but even then they wont ask you to leave. They'll just let you know it's the last order. Otherwise, sit, drink eat, drink some more. They'll bring you the check and tips are not expected. Tips are seen as extremely generous. One thing I will say is what you read on the menu may not be what you expect. I ordered a salmon sandwich one day and the salmon was raw. Good thing for me is that I eat salmon either way, so I didn't freak out. Same with lemonade, which was more of a lemon spritzer. Still, no complaints. I went to do things the French way and I indulged thoroughly.
I’ll use this space to give my one complaint: everyone smoked cigarettes. It makes the city smell like a full ashtray and pee, a lot like New Orleans. Breathe easy my friends and if you must indulge in a bad habit, the wine is cheap. Also, 1664 (beer). Order one, thank me later. I know a person that “stans” for it.
Just thank me now for everything that I share in this blog. For example, wear tennis shoes to the Eiffel. It’s dusty as hell on the outside and on the inside it’s lots of walking unless you pay to ride the elevator. I climbed 600+ stairs and did not complain again about not being able to go to the gym. For the view at the top, it was all worth it. Even the long as line that had me there for over an hour and a half, because only one ticket booth was open. Don’t even bother paying for those tours at the Eiffel. They don’t do shit any different from what you can do for yourself. Shit was maddening and difficult for no reason. In the words of my creepy tour guide, “That’s the French way, not the hard way. Hate us, we understand.” -Henry
Dude was cool until he kept trying to get a phone number, any number. Drop your lil facts, take a pic and go, sir. I’m trying to avoid sex-trafficking in this life. Don’t befriend strange, friendly men, but do bring a blanket. There is a whole ass kickback in the grass across the street from the Eiffel. People sit, laugh, talk, eat, and play music. That’s how you live and party! I want their lives.
One day and I'll keep watching for the pick-pockets when it comes--signs plastered all over the Eiffel.
I saw a post on Facebook once. It was a server making fun of couples that sit on the same side of the booth at a restaurant. I’d like to say to the uncultured swine that that’s exactly what people do in Paris. The people there are so close and affectionate and it’s normal because nobody stares.
NOTE: The French kiss is a real fucking thing, bro. PDA is real.
So many things are normal, like dirty sneakers. I personally believe people could tell I wasn’t French because my shoes were just too clean.
Don’t drink the water. Bottled or not, it’s gross. And you will have to ask for ice because they aren’t just handing it over. Most restaurants don’t even have it. One waiter said he had to go “find” some. Like where else would it be other than a freezer, sir.
Speaking of servers, you will rarely see a woman work as a server. It willbalmost always be a man. Men have to pour the wine as well. I have to read up on that. I mean, I’m 100% okay with ordering a dude around, so this is not a complaint. One waiter liked to wink at me. He was hilarious. He even led me to the restroom with his arms out like he was a plane. My goofy ass followed right behind him with my arms out, too.
Roll your eyes at people that stare. They’ll stop. It worked for me.
Buy an international plug.
Nobody supports Trump. You’ll be judged if you do.
Give your cleaning lady a cool name. I called mine Matilda. I don’t have a clue why.
Don’t be afraid of the language. A lot of the people there speak a bit of English. If not, Google translate is life. I had to use it at the gym. A French woman stared at me as I worked out. It was like she was upset another woman was there and could actually lift. I laughed on the inside. The men. Are funny, too. Three guys watched me do cardio and decided they weren’t working hard enough so they started to pick up the pace. One even copied me. Another one of my highlights.
The Catacombs: creepy.
The Louvre: A MUST DO. If you do nothing else, please, please go to The Louvre. Shoutout to the Uber driver that gave a free history lesson and tour. I’ve never been so in awe of something in my life. The art was breathtaking. Shit, the building itself will knock the wind from your body. Pictures and videos do it absolutely no justice. Get a map and pick what you want to see because you will not get to see it all, but even as you exit you will happen upon more. Don’t forget to look up because even the ceiling is covered in unbelievable history. The shocking discovery for me was the mall underground with a Starbucks that was a luxury pastry shop. We are hella basic here.
Still, there was more. Like what could be better than century old art? I’ll tell you. An adventure for tacos that turns into smiling faces and a scooter in a sketchy alley. Don’t you just love people that are down for whatever? I do. I think I fell in love that night. A freedom to be myself can make something like that happen a million times over. A man walked by and said something in French. He got a look of confusion and the response “English.” He goes, “English? Is that a fucking a trolly?!” in an actual English accent and it made the night. More strangers appeared and it was a party. More laughs as the foreigners raved about America and Americans and our music. Very specifically, French Montana, Kendrick Lamar, and Marshall Mathers. What a night.
Oh, I raced these same strangers on a scooter. I won the first time for the culture. It was my first time riding on one, too. I lived.
I was almost a visitor in London, but the way the trains were set up the day turned into a marvel of the city. I saw some of the same street names that I saw in New Orleans. All I could do was stand there wide-eyed with the biggest smile.
So if you made it this far and you know anything about Paris, then you know I couldn’t leave without laying my eyes on the Seine River. Just take the cruise and don’t go to the bathroom or you’ll be stuck at the bottom of the boat. I honestly didn’t care because, nigga, I was in Paris! It was more than I dreamed it to be. Paris is pleasant during the day, but it’s truly alive at night. Shoutout to music, groups of friends, lovers, the color yellow, tan jackets, people that carry your bags, conversations until five AM, river walks, dancing, PDA, random workout bikes, hair struggles, unofficial photographers, fun, Juvenile lyrics, and non-stop laughter. Just take me back so I can do one thing on the first night instead of the last.
Paris felt like home. I was sad on the last night. I wasn’t ready to go. Everything about it made it a place I could always be. The sirens and the birds that whistle instead of chirping. The bell that rang at the top of every hour. The people, the food, the sites, the black people, the same freedom I feel when I’m in New Orleans, the city that raised me.
Shoutout to the woman that has been telling me to keep fuckbois out of my space, constantly reminding me that I’m amazing, encouraging me to keep moving forward and pacing myself. Thank you for telling me that right now in this moment in my life, I’m making all the right decisions and doing everything right. This is life, oui.
Now I know the Eiffel sparkles. So do I.
THIS BLOG HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY MR. SIR BONNIE.