Paris : It's Not All Champagne + Croissants
It's not all champagne and croissants, this Parisian life. Cobblestones ruin your stilettos and the icy winter goes on waaaay too long, forcing you to start drinking vin rouge earlier in the day and longer into the night, thereby ruining any notions you had of going running in the morning in order to combat overconsumption of said wine.
And then there's the stinky métro, hellishly hot summers, le caca de chien (doggy-do) on every sidewalk and I'm not even going to start telling you about the beaurocratic merry-go-round that just the thought of makes me want a cup of tea, a Bex and good lie down.
But it is Le Good Life. Because I choose to see it through rose-coloured glasses ... and glasses of rosé wine.
No I'm not talking about eye candy. I'm talking about the true gentlemen in the métro who, when they see me enter the carriage and have nowhere to sit, offer me their seat. By the time I politely decline, Merci monsieur mais ce n'est pas necessaire, they've already stood up, gesticulating eagerly to where they have considerately kept the seat warm for me. Nice.
Free, unlimited, organic French wine? Um, the Aussie in me says "Yes, ploise!" I paid just 3 euros (AUD$4.50) to enter Salon Vini Bio, an expo of bio (organic) French winemakers and their produce. I made sure the complimentary wine glass I was given was full of as much free, exquisite champagne, red wine or white wine that I could consume over the next three hours. No bouncers, no curfew and no snarky bartenders refusing to serve you because you're a bit wobbly on your feet or asked for card-onnay instead of char-donnay. Hiccup.
In Australia my fun trips to the dentist and periodontist used to set me back around AUD$500 per year, before insurance rebates. In Paris, I pay just 100 euros (AUD$150) for exactly the same treatments and an X-ray. And when his hands aren't occupying my mouth, I get to practise my french with the rather cute dentiste.
Because Perrier isn't a luxury, it's a right, goddammit! Paris already has around 1,000 public water fountains and recently added eau petillante (sparkling water) to the mix. I sampled my first gulps at Parc Andre Citroen and liked it so much I wished I'd brought along a lot more bottles to fill. Rome has a 24-hour free wine fountain so I'm hoping one day Paris will upgrade from sparkling water and provide me with a 24-hour champagne fountain.
Walk into most Parisian stores and you'll be treated like royalty. I have a gorgeous pair of vintage-look sunglasses by French label JimmyFairly which needed re-adjusting recently. In the St-Germain-des-Pres store, not only did they give them a professional clean, customise them to fit my face and give me two complementary storage cases, but politely pretended to understand my crappy french while sipping an espresso shot they freshly brewed for me.