Back in March, I wrote a post, Ruminations on Place, after a day walking around in Kyoto. I've been in Paris for a few days and I'm thinking more about Place, and what is a Parisian sense of place. Or rather, I should say, what is my sense of Paris as a Place. These are just some random thoughts.
I have passed approximately 50 - or it may be as low as 10 - souvenir shops selling postcards in distinctive black and white or sepia styles. Do an image search on "Paris France" - "Paris" gets you a lot of Paris Hilton stuff - and you'll see examples of it. It's a style that I realized unconsciously made up my sense of Paris as a Place, and made me long for a black and white camera.
Americans, I think, often have the stereotype that Parisians are rude, particularly when you try to speak French. Apparently, this is no longer true. Oh no, I didn't try to speak French, my partner is here with me and has a great accent, though not a lot of vocabulary, and it's be wonderfully fun. And everywhere we go, Parisians have been definitely not rude. I realize this too was part of my sense of the Place that is Paris, and strangely I feel a conflict between my internal sense of the Place and my current experience. At the same time I am of course happy to have that proven wrong.
Like many of my generation, I am used to relying on guide books for travel. My partner had one, which I will no name here, which had much inaccurate information. I am proud to say that the Google Places app on my Android device was really helpful in situations like "Oh, I need a place to eat now that I have time before the concert I just decided to go to." It was not so helpful in finding a breakfast place because breakfast isn't a big deal here like it is in the US. So we found a restaurant nearby, but not one that served crepes, which we wanted. Because apparently Parisians don't do that. But nothing in Places, or an online search, or a guide book would have told me that. So, still work to do.
Speaking of Places, and to earn my keep, the Places API is now open to everyone and has some really cool capabilities, check it out.