The tourist tribulations of three girlfriends

Estimated read time 6 min read

The tourist tribulations of three girlfriends

By dint of spending all my summers in Mallorca, I ended up making friends there. Believe it or not, I sometimes get out of my house and out of my shell. This is the case in Mallorca. This winter, it was my friend Anna who took the opposite path: to come and spend a few days in Paris and then in Lyon. So I partially skipped school to introduce him to our capital.


Anna is Chinese and has lived in Mallorca for a very long time. We talk to each other as we can: a little English, which she has a vague command of, a little Spanish, which I am currently learning, and when we start to tire of juggling, we take out our translator to speak directly to each other in French and Mandarin.

What I didn’t know — Mallorca is a small island for those who come from Paris, so I have never managed to get lost, despite all my efforts — is that it has a sense of orientation as whimsical as mine. I had given him an appointment at the exit of the Invalides RER, showing him the exit on Google Maps.

Except that with her friend Stacy, they arrived early from the Trocadero. So here we are all three launched into a treasure hunt around the army museum. Because, instead of asking her to share her geolocation directly with me, I had the absolutely grandiose idea of asking her to take a picture of what she was seeing. Brilliant idea: she was on the other side of the museum. Except that it was not visible in the photo, because I could only see the dome, which was strictly identical on my side. I had also not paid attention to the orientation of the sun. In short, I still have progress and parts of GeoGuessr to do.

After 45 minutes, we finally found each other. The three of us have left for a visit to the army museum, then an exploration of the center of Paris.

Language and cultural barriers

After all these years, Anna and I finally found ways to communicate quite easily. Usually, I guess and after all these years, she knows my facial expressions. But, there is still a cultural barrier. The first was to explain to him why there were so many policemen and gendarmes on the streets.

As I wanted to show him my “workplace”, after the army museum, we walked to the National Assembly, then the Concorde. I explained to him that we were in the neighborhood of ministries, but also, demonstrations. It was also necessary to explain to him that a terrorist attack had taken place on Saturday evening.

– “But, is it over now? ».

I could have lied to her, but I didn’t see the point. Fortunately, the sun and the beautiful Parisian buildings made it possible to quickly change subjects. Arriving at the Concorde, we walked towards the Tuileries Christmas Market. We did this walk more for folklore than anything else and Stacy was curious to see the Ferris wheel.

That’s when another cultural difference was born: food. I loved seeing his face when I explained to him what the tartiflette was.

– “Why put cheese on potatoes? »

– “Anna, in this country, food is a religion. There are things we shouldn’t try to understand, it’s beyond us. »

Thank you DeepL!

From the Invalids to the National Assembly, from the National Assembly to Concorde, from Concorde to the Tuileries, our walk had tired us a little. Direction a cafe at the exit of the garden. In such a touristy corner, I expected to find waiters speaking at least English, especially for such a snobby cafe.

Lost! You had to see the head of the chief of rank when I asked him if they had cards in Mandarin or Spanish. I would have asked to leave with the recipe of the day, that he would have had the same outraged look. Nevertheless, we manage to settle down and even order. The three of us were glad to have a translator in our pocket.

Quite tired by their visits of the day, Anna and Stacy wished to have an early dinner. They found a restaurant near their hotel. I propose to call to book. I ask at any chance — the neighborhood can lend itself to it, being very touristy – if they have menus in Mandarin or at least in English. The response was scathing :

– “Oh well no, we don’t have a card in Mandarin or English. We know our job and we explain the dishes to the customers”.

Obviously, the job, whatever it is, does not consist of being kind. The three of us left at the foot of the Concorde metro.

Poor tourists

I have been protesting for a long time against the Olympic and Paralympic Games that will land this summer in Paris. Especially since I live between an Olympic village and the Stade de France. I know it’s going to be a nightmare these three weeks. I even wonder if I wouldn’t rather have a real review of a complete finance bill — without 49 paragraph 3 — rather than undergo the Games.

If the army museum had signs in several languages, including Mandarin, all the other places where we walked barely had signs in English. Spanish is currently absent, as are German and Italian. The same applies to Arabic, Russian and Mandarin. However, at the Tuileries, we met people speaking Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Arabic and at least one Slavic language — I couldn’t determine if it was Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian or something else.

Now, the whole world is going to arrive in Paris in a few months and no, not all these people will speak French. What surprised me the most is that the places where we walked and stopped are tourist places. No one spoke English. I am sure that in my neighborhood, more foreign languages are spoken fluently than in the Golden Triangle, including Mandarin, Russian, Arabic, English, Spanish and Polish.

In fact, for the Olympic Games, I think I’m going to develop a mobile application so that tourists can survive in Paris, with maps, translation, decryption of menus in cafes, signs to “catch” a waiter and emergency number.

For the next evening, we left on a safe bet: Chinese fondue in a restaurant run by Chinese people. At least we won’t have any language or cultural barriers.

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