My dear friend Kelly – who lived in Paris for nearly five years – recently told me that every year about a dozen Japanese citizens have to be repatriated from France for a psychological condition called "Paris Syndrome". It's thought to be caused by the extreme disappointment some tourists feel when Paris fails to live up to their expectations.
I practically have the opposite reaction. I was anxious about making my eighth trip to Paris. In fact, I would have skipped it, if it hadn't been for Kelly.
The source of my trepidation: seven years of taking French in school had left me with the ability to understand the nasty things the waiters were saying, but without the ability to come back with a snappy insult.
Fortunately I was insulate by Kelly's multinational bike-gang. We had an amazing day riding all over on borrowed Vélib bikes (Vélib is Paris' bike share program), visiting cute little bike shops, vintage fairs, and boulangeries.
Paris was characteristically overcast and threatening to rain. So Kelly and I wore our most colorful raincoats. (Although neither of ours held a candle to this one.)