Thursday, June 12, 2014

Things the French Like and Do Not Like. Also: War!

Welcome to Part Deux of "Gila & Donny Take Paris (But Then Give It Back Because It's Cold and Rainy and No One Speaks English)"

Things the French like:

Pharmacies. There are about 3 pharmacies per block (“rue”) in Paris. I do not understand why Parisians are hurting themselves all the time. Perhaps they are falling down the stairs in the Metro system.

Espressos. They really love their dark, bitter coffee drink. Even Donny and I kind of appreciated it by the end. Donny more than me, though, I’m still a milk girl. Examples of espresso-lovin': McDonald's ads feature an Egg McMuffin next to an espresso. Nespresso ads also feature espressos only. Not a milk frother in sight. (We got to see lots of ads during our numerous hikes to and from the staircases in the Metro stations.) If you order an espresso, they make it for you using the fancy coffee maker. Order a latte (“hafuch”), and you get coffee from a machine. 

Mumbling. How to speak French: Find a word. Place all the sounds at the back of your throat and gurgle them out.  

Things the French do not like:

English. English is not as beloved of a language as we anticipated. In fact, in the Louvre (“Mona Lisa”) which is one of Paris’ top tourist attractions, the little descriptions next to each piece of art are written only in French. But, we were ok with this because it allowed us to make up our own stories about every painting.

Being Audible. When we asked the nice lady in the amazing kosher chocolate store the name of a certain kosher bakery, she said ... something. I couldn’t make out any recognizable vowels or consonants. See, “Mumbling,” above.

English. The French simply do not appreciate how easy it is to speak in English. Even the people in the hotel did not like talking in English. And they DUB grown-up movies! And TV shows! I turned on the TV in the middle of an episode of Greys, and there was Bailey, yelling in fluent French! It was tres (totes) disturbing.

Surrender. This brings us to one of the highlights of our trip, the War Museum.

The War Museum: Fancy Uniforms and: Jews? What Jews?

First, let’s just say that the existence of the EU is nothing short of a miracle, considering that for hundreds of years all these guys did was kill each other and hold grudges about it. But, only at the War Museum can you get a real French perspective on all the battles. Each battle is commemorated with: guns, knives, paintings and uniforms.

I like guns and knives so that was pretty cool. Adding the paintings of war scenes was a bit strange, but I’ll admit that I enjoyed it. But, the uniforms.

Conversation, circa 16th century:

“Jacques! 1517 called! It wants its uniform style back. Forget your red uniform with gold trim and silver buttons. 1518 is ALL ABOUT the blue uniform with the red trim and gold buttons!”

We were very curious to see what the French had to say about World War II. (Like, “What did they wear?”) Here's what we learned:

The word for “surrender” in French is “resistance.” It turns out that the French fought bravely throughout the war. (And they had very nifty uniforms. In a modern sense, of course.) Especially brave was Charles de Gaulle (“Sharle the Gew”) who spoke bravely about bravery from London.

There was no discussion of French life under the occupation, but I suppose that makes sense after all that brave fighting. But, then it occurred to us: What about the Jews?

Clearly, after fighting bravely for so long, the brave fighters returned to Paris, only to have this conversation:

“Where is Shmuelik? Have you seen him?”
“I could have sworn he was just here yesterday.”
“Huh. Now that I think about it… didn’t we use to have a lot of Jews?”
“Ah. You’re right. I think we did.”
“It sure looks like they left in a hurry. It appears that they didn’t even have time to turn off the gas in their houses of worship which appear to have been completely destroyed in a terrible accident.”
“Strange. You think they would have fought bravely, like us.”

But these were brave fighters. They certainly would have hopped right into their Renault (“Rue”) tank and bravely travelled east looking for Shmuelik.

“Let us grab a quick espresso and be on our way. We need not worry that our extreme tank will break down, as I’m sure we can find an out-of-work German mechanic who could fix it for us. If we hurry, we can follow safely behind the Americans who are only here because they raised a lot of money with E-bonds and have not in any way taken away from our bravery.”

Then, as they bravely followed behind the Americans liberating the concentration camps: “Shmuelik! There you are! You look very hungry. Baguette?”


To be fair, at the very, very end of the World War II exhibit, there was a single wall dedicated to the concentration camps and the Final Solution. This one had English that went something like this: 

“Thereusedtobe76,000JewsinFrance. Theyallgotdeported. Only3percentcameback.” And then, “To learn more, visit our Shoah Museum!" 

Join us tomorrow, or whenever I remember to post, for our final installment: Highlights from Our Trip. (Here's a clue: It rhymes with "dice bream.")

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm following your trip report very carefully Since we'll be there in July. So how did you guys dress, (especially harcoveringwise) so as not to be identified as targets, I mean Jewish.

Gila Rose said...

We dressed normally, kippot, headcoverings, etc.

Eliana said...

Love this post!