What’s French for ‘Where’s my money?’

“I see Paris, I see France, but I speak English” The bank machine had eaten my ATM card. I had been in Paris for only fifteen minutes when the worst of worst case scenarios came

“I see Paris, I see France, but I speak English” The bank machine had eaten my ATM card.

I had been in Paris for only fifteen minutes when the worst of worst case scenarios came true: My access to money had vanished in a foreign country – one where I didn’t speak the language. Excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais?

You may not know what that means, but if you were me in Paris last weekend, you knew its meaning very well. The translation,

“Excuse me, do you speak English?” was my life-saving phrase. Thanks to these words my ATM card was rescued, but in a different country with the same scenario, I may not have been so lucky.

Getting to Paris from London, where I am studying abroad for the semester, is like jumping to New York City from Philadelphia. Unfortunately there’s no $20 Chinatown bus that takes you there, but the price is reasonable and the travel time is about two and a half hours by train. Before my weekend stay, I had no knowledge of French culture whatsoever, and my perception of Paris was based on what I had seen in the final episodes of “Sex and the City.”

Since Carrie returns to New York in the end, I figured visiting Paris would be no big deal – kind of like crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge to New Jersey.

Once over the bridge, you like the area for its unfamiliar quirks, but at the end of the day you’re ready to pay the toll to come back. I learned fast that Paris is definitely no Jersey. A majority of the population looks like they just stepped off the runway – even men my father’s age are attractive. Mullets and tight pants on guys are hot.

While in Paris I sample some scrumptious
delicacies. Escargot (snails) and steak tartar (raw steak) are two of the most delicious meals I’ve ever consumed.

I also learned that the Eiffel Tower was built not as a monument, but rather to kick then-European rival England’s butt in the 1901 World Fair. It costs 3 euros to purchase a bottle of good wine, but a glass with dinner costs nearly 8. The Moulin Rouge is commercialized and overrated (it costs 120 euros, or just a little under $200, to see a show), and its accompanying
Red Light District sadly lacks male strip shows. Seeing the flagship Louis Vuitton store is like fighting your way into an exclusive club – you had to wait in line outside just to see a $1,000 purse.

And did I mention that all French men are beautiful?

It’s true that French women don’t get fat, and it is no wonder why – their average lunch consists of one shot espresso, a cigarette and half a baguette. Not only does this save calories, but also money for the fabulous clothes everyone, and I mean everyone, is seen wearing.

I cried when I sat in mass at the Notre Dame, the cathedral that inspired the story of the legendary hunchback. I randomly wandered into a graveyard, learned it was a national cemetery and found the crypt for the inventor of the saxophone – and yes, his last name was sax.

Finally, I went all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve seen the beaches of Hawaii and the Caribbean and I hail from the untouched beauty of Amish country, but when the sparkling lights of the tower turned on that night, I couldn’t help but proclaim, right then and there, that it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen (besides the hot French men, of course).

Travel, travel and travel some more – that’s all anyone told me when I spoke of my plans to study abroad in London. A self-proclaimed clothes aficionado, I figured I would spend more time adding to my closet than traveling the continent. But after seeing Paris, I may just join CA (“Clothes Anonymous”) and put my retail addiction to rest.

Next stop: Amsterdam (and hopefully more hot men with mullets and tight pants).

Sammy Davis can be reached at s.davis@temple.edu.

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