Last weekend in Paris
Its not often that my wife and I are not with our children on Shabbat. It is even less often that we are out of town. For only the second time since we started having kids soooo many years ago, we spent the weekend on vacation. This time, it was Paris.
Paris is an interesting place. First, we stayed at the Best Western Axel Opera in the 9th Arrondissement. The neighborhood is a bit strange. On the one hand, it is a wonderful jewish community with synagogues, bakeries, two butchers and at least five kosher restaurants. It was a very quiet place at night, but an exciting place to be during the daylight hours.
On the other hand, right in the middle of the neighborhood is the Follies Bergere, a music hall known for the frequent nudity of its women dancers. Today, the hall is used for musicals and performances. Yael Naim is playing there this November. Its a bit strange to find such a public place in the midst of a jewish neighborhood, but hey, its Paris.
The metro system in Paris is cheap (1.6 Euro anywhere in the main Paris area) and its clean and efficient. We went everywhere on the metro. The one drawback is that it is not even close to handicap accessible. Don't try this in a wheelchair. We went up and down many stairwells.
Paris as a whole is for people watchers. The excellent public transit system and reasonable weather mean that there are many people out walking. Small sidewalk coffee bars abound and usually have a row of seats facing the street.
The last time I was in Paris, I felt a bit uncomfortable. It seemed that everywhere I went, I heard arabic and saw women in headscarfs. I don't know why there was a difference, but this time I saw a heterogeneous city full of different types of people. White, black, ebony, indian, chinese, arabic and jewish. It was very interesting to watch the people go by and try to guess where they had come from.
If you are looking for a weekend getaway, Paris is a very nice place. It helps to speak French. I don't and neither does my wife, but we got by with English and Hebrew. As one comedian noted, the education system in France must be excellent. Even the two year olds speak French!