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Spring In France

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Spring is in full swing here in France. Four months of dark, foreboding skies filled with rain, sleet and snow have been taken over by warm, and sun filled blue skies. The French anticipated this season eagerly a few weeks before it actually began. Just as the temperature began to warm a slight amount, though the sky remained gray and bleak, I noticed a slight cheerfulness going around. The dress began to change. The thick, long, black coats were changed into lighter, sportier jackets. Scarves began to come down from nose level, and once in awhile you could catch sign of a bare leg. It was all as if the people knew spring was finally arriving and were ready to shed the oppressiveness of the long, cold winter.

Now that spring has truly arrived the change is more dramatic. Bare flesh is everywhere. The lovely French maidens have brought out their sexy wear. Their tops are tight and cut for maximum flesh and curves. All blouses seem to be sleeveless and low cut to show the most bountiful décolletage imaginable. What cloth there is fits firmly around the bosom and cannot seem to be stretched to cover the entire naval. Not to be outdone, the pants fit so low on their torsos that they expose the curvature of their hips and expose their delectable, lacy panties. The pants also remain so tight as to determine each girls personal likes, dislikes, and religion.

That’s if they wear pants, normally these lovelies prefer to wear a wide variety of skirts. Long skirts, short skirts, tight skirts, loose skirts, skirts of all colors and shapes now wander the streets flirting with whoever will watch. There are long skirts with slits up to places my mother warned me about. They have tight denim skirts that might as well not exist they are so short. Or they saunter about in short loose numbers that fly high above their navels whenever the tiniest breeze flutters about.

The men, not wanting to be left out have also deck themselves in the skimpiest of fashions. The light button-up shirts are buttoned down to expose the hairiest of chests. Or if their pectorals are peaking, they don skin tight pastel colored t-shirts to give everyone the best view of their long worked after, bulging muscles. Their pants are, of course, skin tight leaving nothing to the imagination. Unless of course they are at the park, then the preferable attire is either the skimpiest of jogging shorts, declaring their thighs to the world and barely covering what god never meant to see the light of day, or the mandatory Speedos.

Yes, gone are the days when the streets were filled with walking masses of bulky clothes. No longer are the massive coats covering every curve from neck to kneecap. Winter scarves have left the remaining neckline and facial features below the nose. Where once all that was visible were blacks of their eyes, the French have come out, so to speak, and announced their glorious bodies to the world.

It is a sultry, sweaty, flesh filled landscape these days. It is quite a change, and frankly, not one I’m sure we can all take. The American stereotype of French people is that they are curt, rude, and snobbish. Perhaps it is not a cultural anomaly, or a hatred of all things American, but rather something more simply. Perhaps they are simply sexually frustrated and must take it out on someone.

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About Mat Brewster

  • Elias, the good Dr. said just about everything I could. Personally I find going solo without a tour is better, as you get to see things you wouldn’t on a tour, and spend as much time as you want, but it can also be quite a hassle. I once got stranded in Frankfurt in the middle of the night with no place to stay, very little money and armed guards telling me I couldn’t get into the train station without a ticket.

    Absolutely do tons of research before you go. Decide the place you want to go and what you want to see. Certainly look at the tour packages (and I’ll also plug for Rick Steves as I love his show and have heard good things from family about his tours.)

    No matter what you decide, understand there will be setbacks, and you won’t see everything. Don’t stress the setbacks and plan on a second trip sometime.

  • Elias, it really depends first of all on how much time you have and secondly on your comfort zone. Some travelers love to go it alone and figure the trip out for themselves. You can take your time in places that really interest you and wander off the beaten track a bit. But Europe can be bewildering and unfamiliar, especially if it’s the first time you’ve ventured outside your own cultural/language sphere. With a tour you’re at least guaranteed to see all the things you want to see, even if it’s only for 10 minutes before being herded back onto the bus.

    Whichever way you decide to go, do plenty of research before booking anything. An excellent source of information for Americans visiting Europe (I’m assuming you’re American) is Rick Steves – either check out some of his books from your local library, visit his website or watch his TV show on PBS.

    Have fun!

  • Elias

    I’ll be headed to Europe for the first time this April. I’ve been told to go on a tour and I’ve also been told to go on my own instead of a tour. Does anyone have advice they can give me as to how to go about this trip.

  • Mat

    Of course the Germans have a good transportation system. They are so efficient at everything. I get nervous just throwing trash away over there. What with the fifteen different cans for plastic, glass, cardboard, etc. Throw something recyclable in the regular refuse and they lock you up!


    Germany seeems a bit easier to get around, I use buses and trains whenevr possible, and they go a bit more often. August is the month everyone is on holiday, fall is definitely better, or spering, as this column mentions.

  • Mat

    Here Here! Come to Europe Nancy! I would also not come during the busy summer season. Either spring or autumn will do just nicely. There are far fewer people wandering the streets, the weather is still nice, and getting here will cost you a lot less.

    I also recommend choosing a couple of places to go instead of trying to hit it all at once. You get a much better feel for a place when you stay a few days.

    Oh, and plan plan plan. I’ve taken too many short trips with too little planning. Europe has great public transportation systems, but you go to plan ahead to hit their schedules just right. My last short trip landed me in Amian, just a few short miles from the Normandy beaches, but I couldn’t actually make it to them because the buses weren’t running on Sunday. Or at least not early enough for me to catch my train back to Roeun and my bags.


    Nancy, you shold never wait to go somwhere you want to go. Europe is fantastic, and it can be done on a budget. I wouldn’t recommend the whirlwind tour, better to go to a few countries for several days, or one place for a week.

  • nick

    And also if you ask French people, you will see that the vast majority agrees with me.
    When Chirac opposed the war in Irak, his approval ratings sky-rocketted to all time highs. He has never been that popular before or ever after.
    This is the great difference between France and for example Italy, Spain and the UK.
    In those three countries people were against the war (Especially in especially Spain and Italy where about 90% of the population opposed the war) but their governments chose to back it without having any respect for the idea of democracy whatsoever. Why ? To please Bush.
    They are facing the consequences of their choices now.

  • nick

    Hey the proprietor it is quite funny, because I do loathe Chirac to but for his domestic policy only.
    I support his foreign policy 100% 😉
    And No Moulin Rouge is not closed

  • Mat

    Are you sure the Moulin Rouge closed? I was there over the Christmas break and it sure looked open to me.

  • nick

    hey Dave what do you know about the French anyway ? Only what you have heard of them on Fox news I bet.

  • Nancy

    Getting back to the subject, I would so love to go to Europe. I think when I die, instead of haunting somewhere dull, I’m going to haunt the Louvre, or the British Museum. Why waste my time on a drafty old house or nasty ol’ cemetary when I can go anywhere and see everything, even if I can’t sample the food!? 😉

  • Nancy

    You’re right. I MUST learn to spell French correctly. Also to get the correct phraseology. But I AM conversant in my native language, at least.

  • HW Saxton

    TP,A “surly model wannabe type waitress”
    just described half of the waitresses in
    Los Angeles. And teenagers are assholes
    in general no matter where in the world
    I’ve been. They don’t lack for attitude
    that’s for sure.Not all of course but…

  • I’ve vacationed several times in France and I would agree that the French are generally decent folk no ruder than anywhere else in Europe. We had one surly waitress in Paris (a model wannabe type) who snapped at my wife for daring to ask in English what ice cream flavors they had (I had ordered in French that evening, and she was pleasant enough to me), and some teenage punks were trying to annoy us on a train from Chartres back to Paris, nothing that couldn’t have happened on the Long Island Railroad. We had some wonderful experiences chatting with people, either in my miserable French or thankfully their much better English. While I loathe Chirac and most (if not all) of the French foreign policy, I remember my trips there and the people with fondness.

  • HW Saxton

    It closed down sometime last year sadly.
    It was kind of archaic though by todays
    standards.Definitely had the Las Vegas
    thing going on for better and worse.

    A lot of the topless revues in Vegas are
    seeming to be increasingly dated by the
    standards of todays entertainment.A lot
    of Vegas tourists are from the fly over
    country though and I’m sure it still is
    mighty racy to them.


    I did not know that, haven’t been to Paris since 1994. It’s hard to travel, lots of places I want to see, and places I have been to, I want to revisit. The Wall been down for 15 years and I still haven’t been futher east than the Czech Republic

  • HW Saxton

    I’ve got a lobby card sized advertising
    insert from “Le Moulin Rouge”. I bribed
    one of the door men a few francs for it.
    Common practice I was told.You all know
    it’s closed down & out of business now

    I love Red Light Districts overseas,they
    are sooooo sleazy & interesting because
    of that self same reason.


    Nursing the kebab in the middle of the red lights? I know that story. Had to do the same thing in Hamburg when we ran out of cash early. You want to talk seedy, the Reeperbahn in Hamburg makes Frankfurt look like a church social. Funny thing is, during the day, you wouldn’t know that are was the heart of the redlight, the regular stores and markets draw typical shoppers in daylight hours.

    The Moulin Rouge is like a strip show in a museum, more like a topless Vegas review, which of course it was the inspriration for. Not a bad show, but I am glad I got in free.

  • Mat

    How’d you like the Moulin Rouge? We went by there, but everything was soooo SEEEDY! Which, when I thought about it, made sense, since the Moulin Rouge isn’t exactly a convent, but it was still a bit of a shock to see all the seedy sex shops everywhere.

    Reminds me of the time I got stranded in Frankfurt, Germany. The armed guards at the train station wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a ticket on me. It was three o’clock in the morning and the only things open were the sex joints, and one little kebab shop. I nursed that kebab for like three hours!


    Nancy, you might be able to pronounce “nuclear” but you misspelled “mais oui”, seems trivial, doesn’t it?

    On the language note, speaking just a little of the language of whatever country can get you pretty far. My limited French got me free entry to the Moulin Rouge in Paris, and a free bottle of champagne, good object lesson there.

    As for work, gotta pay the bills to be able to travel, I have a lot more than me, a hostel card, and a rail pass to worry about now. Now if these lottery tickets would just pay off…

  • Mat

    You’ve got to love the Italians!

    I’ve skirted many a political discussion. My wife has found that her students (she’s teaching English at university) love to rail against US politics, but avoid any controversy in the French government.

  • HW Saxton

    Mat,Thanks. It seemed to me that Euro’s
    in general were very nice to me in all
    of the countries I visited. The Swiss of
    all people seemed a little snobby if any
    one really was. Not enough to be vexing
    though.The Italians were absolutlely the
    most cordial people I met & the Germans
    not far behind.

    The only problem I found(if we can even
    call it a problem)was once people found
    out you were American they would try to
    pull you into political discourse. This
    mainly happened at pubs,gasthaus’s,etc.
    This was easy to side step though with
    a joke and buying a round of beers,LOL.

  • Mat

    I agree completely, HW. Far from being rude I have found the French to be a very nice bunch. That goes for the Belgiums, Germans and Italians that I have visited. Act like a jerk anywhere, and you’re probably going to be treated like one.

  • HW Saxton

    In all of the times that I have traveled
    to Europe, I didn’t find the French any
    ruder than anyone else. It all seemed to
    me that you were treated the way that
    you carried yourself. Take a stab at the
    language,learn about cultural difference
    and apply all those things that you can
    & you’ll be shown a much greater degree
    of hospitality.

    If you act like an asshole, you deserve
    to be treated like one.If you run around
    in ugly tourist garb(fanny packs et al),
    then you should be laughed at. On & on.


    Only you could turn a post about spring into another wasted political name-calling piece. There’s something called “rising to the bait” and you have done it.

  • Dave, I’m shocked? Glass half empty?

  • Nancy

    You read me wrong: I don’t HATE Bush. I don’t hate anybody. But I have no respect for him, since I see none of the virtues you do; and he has no credibility with me based on his actions, either – a common plight among politicians which I’m sure keeps them all up nights. I wish I could believe he’s a decent person, but actions speak much louder than words, and in Dubya’s case, his actions do not lead me to any sort of confidence in either his capabilities or his much-vaunted “moral values”. But – if you feel differently, I’m glad for you. Really.

  • Nancy, like the French you have the right to hate GWB for purely irrational and emotional reasons. I’ll keep liking him for having the integrity to at least try to do the right thing against all adversity. No, I don’t like the things which have resulted from the compromises forced on him by the nature of politics, but I see him every day still struggling to accomplish good things for the nation – like his doomed efforts on Social Security, and I’m confident that when his presidency ends – probably in dismal failure – 30 years from now people will look back and wish he’d been able to do the things he wanted to.


  • Mat

    Nick, it was a joke. The American stereotype of the French is that they are snobbish, rude, and dislike Americans. I thought it would be funny to pretend the reason for this supposed rudeness was not because of any real contempt, or inherit rudeness, but because of sexual frustration due to the near nudity on the streets. Sorry you didn’t get it.

    You are correct that not all French people don’t hate everything American. I’ve found they accept many things that are American. In the same manner that not all of the French hate Bush. I have some good friends who are very French and are big Bush supporters.

    SFC, Work? Who needs work, when there is so much of the world to see? LOL, I’m lucky enough to be taking the year off to live in France. Strasbourg is worth a visit, but you can see all there is to see within a couple of days, so I wouldn’t make it the crux of a vacation.

    The rest,this wasn’t really an attempt to be political, but I understand that sometimes you’ve got to lay those frustrations down where ever you can.

  • Nancy

    I’m American, I’m not deficient in common sense or good taste, & I gotta say I despise & loathe W too – and I’m not even a Democrat. I don’t know what he actually is (a plutocrat or oligarch, perhaps?), but he sure ain’t no died-in-the-wool Republican: he’s blown the deficit to Dante’s inferno, he’s made government more intrusive than ever before, it’s BIGGER than ever before, we’re no safer than we were 4 years ago, he still hasn’t caught Bin Laden or Zarqawi, we’ve spent $800+ billion on a bunch of losers overseas, who if they had an ounce of gumption would have gotten rid of Saddam themselves years ago, our kids still can’t read worth a damn, our borders are as porous as a saturated sponge, the left and right are even less unified than they were 5 years ago, the GOP has turned into a bastion of right-wing religious loonies, the left has turned into a bastion of ivory tower theoreticians and loonies, the US is the object of contempt and ridicule thanks to his cowboy bragadoccio, too many of our jobs are overseas, one in four Americans has no health coverage whatsoever even if they do have a job, drug prices are unaffordable to those that need them most thanks to our good friends in the pharmecutical lobbies, gas prices are going out of sight, and Bush STILL can’t pronouce “nu-cle-ar” correctly. I have to grudgingly agree w/(some) liberals: he’s a millstone around the American neck and if the consequences weren’t so heartbreakingly high, he would be a joke. There. Vented my spleen, & I’ll surely catch it from everyone else who blogs on for the next week or so, but sometimes ya gotta say what ya gotta say. In this case, I think, the French are, how shall we say? Mai oui!

  • >>French people do hate your president that is a fact, but hey, who doesn’t ?<< Anyone with a lick of sense - which generally doesn't include the French. Dave


    I have been all over western Europe, but I still have not made it to Strasbourg. Work keeps getting in the way of my travel, isn’t that a shame.
    Yes, I’d make it a point to jog through the park whenever possible.

  • nick

    You give yourself way too much credit when you think that French people hate everything American, or that the poor Americans become the victim of the French sexual frustration.

    French people do hate your president that is a fact, but hey, who doesn’t ?

  • Mat

    Yes, Nancy, as hard as it is to believe, I see more scantily clad lasses here than I did in the States (and I lived in Bloomington, IN a city overrun with IU Britney wannabees)

    SFC, I live in Strasbourg which is a stones throw from the German border. We go shopping there some (cheaper taxes)and even that close I can tell the difference in fashion sense. It’s a running joke actually how poorly styled the German’s are.

    Needless to say I’ve been walking to the park nearly every day 🙂

  • Nancy

    ROTFLOL! [recovering] But … you mean there are people in Europe who wear less clothes than all the little teenaged Brittany and JLo wannabes over here in the US of A, even in the winter? I didn’t think that was possible!


    Germany goes through the same ritual, but with less fashion sense. I spend a lot more time in the parks and cafes this time of year.