Ah Paris, the city of romance. The city where you stroll hand in hand along the Seine with your chouchou. Then as dusk falls, you stand side by side to marvel at the beauty of the twinkling Eiffel Tower...
But what happens when the cliché doesn't materialise, when life is not so rosy? What happens when instead of landing Le Prince Charmant, all you seem to be uncovering are frogs who have a distinct whiff of garlic to them?
You're able to take the edge off by engorging yourself on macarons, chocolate, viennoiserie, cheese, stinky cheese, really stinky cheese and fabulous baguettes... and when that's not enough, wine, lots of wine.
Life's not all that bad, y'see.
... well... apart from all that cat-calling, whistling and unwanted attention you get on the street....
I'm not saying that if you're in a relationship, you don't get this. It's just that based on my experiences, I only really get attention in the streets if I'm by myself. And this is me who walks fast, keeps her head down, and doesn't dawdle on street corners looking at a map. I wonder what it's like as a single female traveller in Paris...
I'm also not going to deny that to a certain point, it's flattering. I was approached by someone this afternoon who complimented me and asked 'just if he could have a coffee with me' that I smiled, looked him in the eye but kindly said non merci.
However, I wish this was the norm. Unfortunately, it is often far more aggressive than that. There are shops that I don't go to, areas of town where I don't linger, places I will avoid... because I've been groped, followed, chased, been offered money for sex, and even have a guy threaten to kill me because I wasn't going to, err, acquiesce. (A friend of mine - who can remain anonymous if she would prefer - has been kicked in the back by a man on the métro.) How do you deal with that?
I wish these were one-off occurences too. No, I get chatted up EVERY SINGLE TIME I leave my apartment by myself. I wonder if it happens as often to other people? After a certain point you start to ask yourself, maybe it's something about me...?
And why do I put up with it? I often ask myself that question. It's because the food is just so good!
What are your experiences? I'd be very interested to hear them.
**Thank you to all who left comments before. Unfortunately they went wayward during the blog transition, but I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated your support.**