La Diversité

Paris, I've found, is quite diverse.  It is a fact that makes this place so appealing to me in several respects.  The city and its suburbs are demographically varied, but what surprises me is the variety of activities, food, and scenery.  Each neighborhood has an identity, homegrown businesses, pittoresque parks and much more to keep its dwellers content.

sandwich in the cafe window
There are cute conceptual businesses like Cosy Corner in the 4th arrondissement with a view of La Tour Saint-Jacques just across the way.  Cosy Corner is a sleek, silent internet café perfect for studying or writing blog posts. For €5 an hour, visitors have access to wifi and silence along with unlimited tea-time beverages and eats.  A great spot to take your date if you're nervous about having a conversation.  wink wink 

I'm sure I will return often to study, write and have a piece of cake.  Obviously, like all things in my life, I'm in it for the cake.

Chocolate cake at Cozy Corner

Do you spy La Tour Saint-Jacques?
Human diversity played a role in my enjoyment of the New Year's Eve festivities in Paris.  I went to the Champs-Élysées to see the light show on l'Arc de Triomphe.  My group consisted of a Parisian, five Italians and yours truly.  Not only was my personal circle diverse and interesting, they opened doors for us to have funny encounters.  Like the Japanese gentleman who spoke to us in an enthusiastic smattering of French, Italian and English.  I also enjoyed the apparently typical group of Algerians who were chanting patriotically for their country even though patriotism is fairly irrelevant in terms of ringing in a new year.  

Champs-Élysées on New Year's Eve
I am becoming more comfortable with the language barrier, although I hope at least the French one will begin to fall, and I find it amusing to communicate through facial expressions, gestures and an odd word or two.   

This was supposed to be a food blog, right?  So, I guess it's necessary to have a bit more discussion of food and the different choices one has in Paris.  I've had authentic-tasting Middle Eastern, North African,  Indian, and Portuguese food and approximations of American specialties, but as of now, I think that the Mexican food is lacking.  

Upon my arrival last Sunday I was guided to O'Tacos in Saint-Denis which is a chain here that specializes in tacos, right?  Don't be fooled by the fact that this establishment is literally named after tacos.  The concept is French influenced tacos - which turn out more like burritos - and I'm not saying that they are displeasing.  However, my first Mexican (?) food experience here did not make me feel like I was in Texas eating outside of a hoppin' food truck.  I was just eating cordon bleu wrapped in a flour tortilla.

excuse this horrendous photograph
Paris is obviously a hub for culture, so it makes sense that plenty of activities are available to the common man.  Okay, maybe not everyone attends the opera or the ballet.  It is, however, likely that anyone could.  There are all sorts of discounts for students, employees of certain companies and specific day-of-the-week deals to make the arts and activities accessible for all.  Museums, landmarks, shows, you name it.  Last week, I had the privilege of attending a contemporary ballet at Palais Garnier.  The seats were the cheap ones, but by no means undesirable.  The view was unhindered and the performance immensely enjoyable.  I recalled trying to find tickets to a ballet at the Kennedy Center several months ago and the only available seats were upwards of $80.  Here it's more like $30.  I was even able to visit the tower of Notre Dame de Paris free of charge as a student.

Come out of the metro and BAM: Palais Garnier

Spectacular views from Notre Dame de Paris - free for students

Visit Paris and see for yourself everything it offers.

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