Let me just start of this travelogue entry by saying that I am absolutely blown away by the kindness of the French. These must be the warmest, friendliest group of people in the world!
Just kidding. They are horrible.
If you can make it down the street without being tripped by a sneering Frenchman, though, you're in for a treat, because Paris has something going for it that the USA certainly does not: lots and lots of history. (Well, the US does have history, but France has more.) In France, it seems like every corner has some kind of monument, museum, or other historical landmark on it. These landmarks date back hundreds--sometimes thousands!--of years, and they are certainly worth a gander. The French have a lot to be proud from and, judging from the way they look down on the rest of us, they sure know it!
The French economy seems to be driven by three main industries: 1.) People standing on the street and forcing you to let them draw your portrait; 2.) Performance artists who paint their bodies to look like statues and then stand absolutely still so you can take a picture with them and then put change in their basket; and 3.) Pickpocketing. Don't even worry about seeking these vital tourist experiences out, for they will surely find you first!
If you only have time for one of those three activities, I recommend being pickpocketed. Posing with a peformance artist is out, because performance art is not the kind of behavior it is ever acceptable to encourage. Getting your portrait drawn on the street will cost you roughly seven Euros and take about a half hour of your valuable time; during that period, you will have to endure an excruciatingly awkward conversation with a skeezy street artist. Additionally, the 'portrait' you receive will invariably look like crap. At least getting pickpocketed is quick.
What a pleasure it has been to experience French culture! I'm really looking forward to the next spot on our fabulous trip. (It's in Asia!)
Previously: Day 1