Because the people make the culture of a place. They give us our first impressions of a place. The people are the ones who made me fall in love with France, laugh on a train, and blush in the Caribbean. They are the ones who travel with me, welcome me, and say goodbye.
Seeing the way other people live and find happiness is one reason I love traveling. And Simon, in Paris, is one of the reasons I love the world.
IF THE FRENCH ARE RUDE, SOMEONE FORGOT TO TELL SIMON.
After a mad-dash to the Eiffel Tower on a Paris trip with my mom, we made it to the tower, jumped in line and anxiously waited for our trip up. It had been a crazy day, involving stolen cell phones and long lines. By the time we got to the tower, we hadn’t eaten in about eight hours. My mom spotted a cotton candy stand and mentioned that we’d have to stop for some when we came back down.
We lost track of time on the tower, spending a couple hours up there wandering around, drinking champagne, and snacking on sandwiches. Once we made it back down, just in time for the light show, we headed straight for the cotton candy (mom doesn’t forget her cotton candy).
We waited in line, watching as a man standing next to the stand laughed and chatted with the people in front of us. When our turn came, we were waiting to order when he started talking to us.
The jovial man next to the cotton candy stand said we should order in French, which we haltingly attempted to do. He taught us that in France, cotton candy is named for Santa’s beard.
“BARBE A PAPA – IT MEANS THE CHRISTMAS MAN’S BEARD.”
He went on to tell us why there was a giant tennis ball hanging on the Eiffel Tower – the French Open was going on – and made some suggestions for our itinerary that week.
As we got our candy and were about to leave, he asked for our names, shook our hands, and gave us our first “enchante” in France. (Don’t say I told you so, but I’m pretty sure mom blushed.)
I snuck a picture of Simon so we could remember him. Little did I know I’d have another chance later on – we actually saw him TWO more times! He was hanging out with the cotton candy man every time. The second time we saw him he asked if we’d visited the French Open. The third time, he just winked as we passed.
Simon – thanks for teaching us some French, why there was a tennis ball on the tower, and being one of the hundreds of people to blast away rude French stereotypes during that trip.
Thanks for making Paris a great place to be. You are one of the reasons I love this world.