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"One night I felt sick and had to go to the hospital of Paris near the Seine, for precautionary measures. The doctor who examined me was not only very kind but very pretty as well. She spent quite some time with me and showed real interest in my problem. While I was waiting for my examination results we exchanged some pleasantries and she expressed her love for Greece. She told me that every time she meets Greeks she has a pleasant feeling, because we are considered impulsive people. She showed special interest in me to a point she excited me and made me wonder".
The young Greek University professor, who had been sent to Paris for six months for research, then left the hospital and decided to take a short walk along the banks of the Seine before going home. He couldn’t get the doctor out of his mind. Her name was Marisol, it was written on the badge hung on her white apron. A beautiful name, especially when pronounced by the French.
During the next months, every evening after work, he used to walk near the Seine, an activity which relaxed him. When he happened to pass near the hospital, he always had the secret hope that he would accidentally bump into the beautiful and kind doctor. But in vain, not once did he see her again over the following months. He may have not met his object of desire near the river; nevertheless, he met all types of Parisian people and observed their behavior. Families with children, couples in love, clochards (homeless people), pensioners, cops, rowers, paddlers, athletes, teenagers and outdoor artists.
The Greek professor was impressed by the kindness and the tender words that the French exchanged: "Mothers call their babies ‘mon petit chou’, which means my little cabbage. The same phrase was also used by some couples. When I first heard it I found it funny and laughed. Their love of children will also remain unforgettable to me. I observed the women who took babies for a stroll by the river. Most of the passers-by would stop to say a few sweet words to the babies.
The French greet all the time, even if they don't know each other. If two men, for example, meet at the entrance of a building, it's unthinkable that they will not say hello to each other. The French also like to speak in low tones, dislike exaggeration and indiscreetness, and avoid tension. It is considered rude to persistently gaze at a French woman or talk to her loudly. Outbreaks are rarely observed in France, because people are naturally low-keyed and have learned from birth to live and react calmly. Most of the children are obedient and before they go to sleep at night, they hug and kiss the adults one by one. They then go to sleep without any further discussion and without dispute".
It's a pity that travel agencies only promote the famous wide boulevards of Paris and not its backstreets. The real magic of the city is not only in its great monuments and its museums, but also in the refined nature of its people. Everyone has good manners in Paris, even the scavengers. Their sensual language allows them seem even more polite. This language is incompatible to rudeness. That is why it is not extensively spoken in the rest of the cruel and competitive world, at least not as much as it was in the old times.
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS