Greetings again from a slightly colder, but ever so beautiful, Paris!
I have now lived my first week or so as an independent Parisienne, and all I can say is that I am just full of life.🤓 Of course on some of the days I have felt a bit strange, considering that there is something new to basically every aspect of my life now that I live here. But all in all, living is easy and just wonderful here. I am inexplicably grateful that I get to be in such a place at this point in my life, where I feel entirely like myself, and mentally at home.
I've now gotten used to living here on my own, I've met lots of new people, conversing in French of course, and I've been building new routines for myself. Last week I visited the Eiffel tower alone just for fun one afternoon, then one day I happened to walk through the square where they filmed much of Emily in Paris, and I also went to see 44 Avenue Foch where Maria Callas lived for a few months when she first moved to Paris. Otherwise I've just enjoyed walking in the neighborhood and observing the life around me. Here are some of my observations that either make me laugh, or appreciate this culture and my Parisian surroundings even more.
- I love it that it is customary and important for everybody to greet one another if you are in some way in the same space or situation, no matter if you know each other or not. Finnish people wouldn't believe this, but even strangers that come close to you on a bus stop can greet you amicably with a 'Bonjour' or a 'Bonsoir'😜. What's more, when you get in the bus, the bus driver can also greet you with a warm 'Bonjour!' Then I also love it when strangers call me Madame, and in general that strangers or acquaintances are addressed with the titles Madame or Monsieur.🎩
- People use a lot more cash here, and much to my surprise: chéques! I find it hard to believe that while I haven't even seen an actual check in my whole lifetime, people still use checks here to pay for stuff.🧾
- It seems people don't really use cleaning cloth or rags here to clean tables and such (like in Finland we do), but instead they use the little sponges that have a harder layer for scrubbing on its other side.🧽
- Ah! France. The promised land of Italian showers, American kitchens and sporty loaves of bread:
- The most amusing part of searching for apartments online was to find a normal shower being described as an Italian one (the kind without a bathtub) in an apartment's description. So I'm calling out to all Finns who think they have a normal shower where you stand on the floor while showering, it's much fancier than that: it is, in fact, Italian! My apartment here doesn't have an Italian shower, but I don't mind, because for me a bathtub is much more exotic and I think I'll find Italian elegance here also in other realms than solely in bathroom design.🛁
- Kitchens on the other hand are frequently called American here, but I'm not entirely sure what it refers to. Maybe a more open and sleek design than in the French rustic style kitchens?🍴
- And finally, I find it fun, that a loaf of bread with nuts, seeds and dried fruit in it was called a 'pain sportif' at Lidl. Who wouldn't want to have a taste of a sporty bread!🤸🏼♂️
- I was once again reminded of the fact that the neighborhood of Les Halles is an exception to the rules of pronunciation in French as it doesn't have a liaison in between the two words. So in comparison to the cases of 'les hôtels' and 'les hôpitaux', where we pronounce the liaison, 'Les Halles' and 'les haricots' (green beans) don't have a liaison. There is probably no specific reason for that, but we just have to play along with the rest of the French-speaking people and accept these weird exceptions!😅
- I also learned that A) a bus, that is ordered for a specific occasion to transport people, is called a 'car' in French, B) that a bundt cake or a pound cake is called a 'cake' in French, but just pronounced in a French accent, and C) that Rue Foch where Maria Callas (and among others: Aristotle Onassis) lived, is pronounced with a sh-sound in the end ('fosh') in French.
- Many seem to be a bit confused about the Nordic countries, because I've had many occasions where people recall that I come from either Sweden or Norway, and not Finland. And often people aren't so sure which capital, Helsinki, Oslo or Stockholm, belong to which of the countries. So now I realize just how much Finland is considered to be in the periphery of Europe, as not even international-minded Parisians really know where I'm coming from.😂 The only thing that has really reminded me of Finland, is the square 'Place de la Finlande' on the left bank of Seine.
- I am just overjoyed by the fact that when you put on a really warm coat here, it means that you actually won't get cold outside. For the first time I understand that my coats have the ability to be warm enough, because in Finland you can never be quite sure if what you're wearing will be enough to keep you warm. It feels refreshing that I can wear my coats with confidence in the fact that they can keep me warm for the whole day. Then I also find it a bit cute that Parisians think -3 degrees celsius is so cold that you almost can't leave the house, whereas Finns were suffering from -15 or even -40 degrees last week, and only at that point they made arrangements to stay home during the day. But as we know, people aren't that used to coping with snow and cold weather here, the buildings aren't as well insulated here either, and there are a lot more homeless people to shelter during such weather.
There you go! Those are my random observations for now, but stay tuned to hear more of them, as I am bound to notice them in the future as well.☺️
Have an elegant week!