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This section presents my impressions of The City of Light.
The Second section is a report on What We Did while there.
The Third section is responses to these comments .
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PARIS: Impressions
May 9-23, 2000
San Francisco, a beautiful and exciting city in a magnificent setting with food of great variety and second-to- none quality, has long been considered the Paris of the Western Hemisphere. With all that it is, Paris it ain't! 
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One of the primary attributes of Paris is its absence of tall buildings where they ought not be. Oh, they exist but they're on the periphery where they belong. I'd wager that the vast majority of Paris buildings, residential and commercial, are no taller than sixty feet. 
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Paris, as London (and I presume Rome), except for the boulevards, has few long sight lines. The streets curve and come to abrupt ends. One cannot help seeing the loveliness of the architecture for if one doesn't, it's walked right into. 
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I cannot imagine a city more expensive to care for. Whither one turns there are public gardens, parks, and plazas. Each of them is clean and well cared for. Many of them have small gates apparently intended to keep out dogs. And always out and about are the men in green (even the brooms are green) keeping things in order.
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In addition to owners paying property taxes, renters also pay a tax similar to property tax. I'm sure there are many other taxes that are used to pay what must be a vast army of workers who care for the beautiful city. 
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Drivers maintain "a cigarette in one hand, a cup of coffee in one hand, and a telephone in the other". There are few lines indicating driving lanes and, at Place de la Concorde, I counted fifteen "lanes" of motor vehicles, seven four-wheel'd and eight two. It appears to be chaos but they seem to understand it. 
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The food, 'though different from that of San Francisco, is, comparing by price, disappointingly no better. Miss- ing from the restaurant diet is vegetables, a matter that became a concern for us. We looked for a vegetarian restestaurant but failed to find one. We made it a point to eat salad but they seldom contained anything but lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. The dressings, usually a vinaigrette, were consistently delicious. An unreliable source told us that vegetables are eaten at home, not in restaurants. The vegetables we saw at stores appeared, unlike London, to be of outstanding quality. 
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Paris is quiet! The street-level noise is far below that of any other city I've ever visited. Further, the Métro is also quiet. It's possible to maintain a normal conversational voice even when a train is entering a station. Try that in Manhattan! 
        We had no access to broadcast music so were unable to learn to what they were listening. In bars, res- taurants, stores, and even in elevators, we heard no French music, not even songs sung in French. All that we heard was familiar US tunes. 
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Unfortunately the graffiti that used to infect Manhattan have moved to Paris. They're everywhere and few, in that center of art, are anything but an ugly blight. Their presence angered and saddened me. Fortunately my memory of them is dim being overwhelmed by the magnificence and beauty that Paris exudes. 
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The French appear to be no taller than Spaniards or Italians and, I presume, Rumanians or Portuguese. They're probably not as tall as people in the USA, Canada, Australia, or Scandinavia. So why are their public urinals mounted at such a great height? 
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We were very favorably impressed by the public behaviour of Parisian youth as well as the more varied youth (we presume) sharing our visit to Parc Astérix. They were consistently well behaved and polite. 
        I must say, however, that the youth I encounter at US amusement parks are also very polite 'though not as well-behaved as were the French. 
        We also found no evidence whatsoever of the reputed rudeness of Parisiennes. Well, she thinks one woman was rude but I don't agree as her behaviour was not improper within the context of our encounter. 
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It is probably a reflection of French character that none of the museums had information on items in any other language. I approve of that. When in France, speak French! I didn't like it, though, as I wasn't able to translate more than a third to a half of what I read beyond the titles of objects d'art. One can, however, usually rent port- able sound machines in many languages. It's important to note that most museums in the USA are also unilingual. However, English is the fourth most widely spoken natural tongue on Earth and the most widely spoken second language. French is farther down both lists. 
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Although the proportion of Blacks in Paris is not as great as in London, my impression is similar to the one I got in London: There appears to be no separate Black culture and, therefore, Blacks are regarded as no different from other Parisians. Well, maybe a little but nothing that we could see. 
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We did a lot of meandering and, whenever possible, rode busses in preference to the subway. Both, by the way, were easy to use. I think we visited all the major sites. 
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On our final return home, we strolled rues Rivoli and Faubourg-Sainte Antoine from the Hôtel de Ville to Place de la Bastille getting angrier and angrier as we went for having not done so sooner. There were scores of small shops presenting exquisitely prepared foods at reasonable prices. I forget why it was that we didn't eat any of it; perhaps having just had a meal. Of all the must-do things when you visit Paris, place this stroll, with an empty stomach, very high on your list. You won't regret it! 
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Yes, I love Paris! And London. And Manhattan. And Buenos Aires. And Barcelona. And Rio de Janeiro. And Amsterdam. And Mexico City (as it was when its population was two-four million). And my wonderful home, San Francisco. I'm sure I'll love Rome (next year), too.
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So, what'd we do while there? You asked!
Comments of others.
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