Paris can be difficult. It’s easy to get lost. If you need something essential, you will probably have to go to five different supermarkets to find it. Because everyone is always getting lost and it’s taking them longer than they expected to buy toilet paper, everyone is always late.
But when you are really frustrated, Paris will surprise you with something small, but nice.
Most importantly, there are free public toilets. Everywhere. These are clean, single-stall pods that open automatically when you press a green button. Really, they’re the least Parisian thing that you could possibly think of, and I’m sure there are Parisians who hate them. But if you are ever lost in Paris and really have to pee, you will be grateful for these toilets. They all have maps on the side, which not only let you know where you are, but also where to find the other toilets nearest you.
If you order a tiny French espresso, you will probably get a tiny French cookie with it. A really, really good cookie. At this point, the cookie is still always a surprise for me, although perhaps now that I’ve written this I will be expecting the cookie next time I order a coffee. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the same kind of cookie twice.
The Mystic Clementine:
Finally, there was this morning. I had just gone to the other side of town to cash some travelers checks, only to discover that the commission at the American Express office was actually higher than at the Banque Postale two blocks from my building. I got back on the metro to go to the bank. I felt that I had wasted my time, but at the top of the escalator there was a clementine trapped in motion where the escalator belt slides under the ground. The clementine was spinning like a globe. It did not veer off course and everyone stepped around it on their way out into the street. Although i suppose that this could happen to a clementine anywhere, I felt like there was something especially Parisian about this spinning clementine. Maybe I’ve just seen Amélie too many times.