Overheard in Paris


The things people say when they think you don’t understand their language.

At the Doisneau exhibit at the Hotel de Ville:

“Mira, ella está sacando una foto de la foto. ¡Ja ja ja!”
Translation: Look, she’s taking a picture of a picture. Ha ha ha!  

The picture is of poissoniers, fish sellers, in the old markets of Les Halles. A and I were wondering if they really, actually kept a seal around as a garbage disposal for leftover fish. What did they do with him at night, drop him off in the Seine? It was so hilarious, I couldn’t help it. I needed a photo. No ill-will here; I totally see the irony of taking a photo of a photo.

But what makes the faux pas hilarious is that it happened again five minutes later.

We stopped by the gift table to look at some collections of Robert Doisneau’s work. A was looking at the Les Halles special edition, while I was looking at a volume of his broader work. When I told A to take a look, a French guy next to me said, “This is very interesting, no?”

“Yes, it is,” I responded.

I don’t understand French, but A does, so she translated what happened next:

French girl: Why are you talking to them?
French guy: I like talking to people. It’s cool.

The famed Parisian snootiness! Hahaha. Everyone I’ve come across in two trips to Paris has been surprisingly friendly, but maybe it’s just because I don’t know what’s being said behind my back!

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