A funny thing happens when you travel or live abroad.  In between eating chocolate and pastries, you become a sort of self-indoctrinated cultural anthropologist- an unofficial expert on a place and its people.

After spending the morning in intensive French classes at Langue Onze (http://www.langueonzeparis.com/?lang=fr) I met some friends at Le Loir Dans La Theiere to review our latest findings about French culture…

We talk about the trials of moving in Paris, different attitudes towards customer service, how the French language gives us more insight into how people interact with each other… and of course we discuss what kind of merengue we’re eating.

Is it French, Swiss or Italian?  And we all agree that no matter which variety it is- it’s delicious.

After lunch we headed down to the Seine to observe and take part in another Paris tradition:  Paris Plages.  Every summer, the city of Paris closes the road along the river to create Paris Plages- a beach in the city.

They’ve shipped in tons of sand, they’ve created a sunken treasure ship-playground for kids, they have bocce, foosball tables, ice cream and beer.

We had a great afternoon and this is where I had my latest revelation about Parisian life:  when the French commit to a new project they do it whole-heartedly- in a very big way.  They don’t skrimp on the details. This is something I can really appreciate.

So even though most days I feel like an outsider looking in, I can still have these moments where I feel like Dian Fossey being invited into the herd.  And as I lay in the sun, I find this comforting.  The French and I have a lot in common…  we love walking, shopping, eating, going to the movies… and of course, going to the beach.