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Postcard from France: An unsettling first day in Paris

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
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A view of one of the gardens at Claude Monet's house in Giverny.

Ah, the charming streets and bistros of Paris. Early in the day, I enjoyed a cup of Café Angelina’s famous hot chocolate and then paid a visit to Claude Monet’s house and exceptional grounds in Giverny. A perfect first day in Paris before Michigan’s football team arrives for a week-long of sightseeing.

And then, out of the blue, as I walked with three friends back to my hotel after dinner, a woman sprung up from the street and spoke loudly in French in my direction. She rambled angrily in French, and for whatever reason, I apparently was the subject of her diatribe. Her face was tight with rage and she kept her focus on me and stayed on my heels. I put my right hand down in a way trying to tell her without speaking to back off.

That didn’t help. I never saw it coming, but she punched me hard in my left arm and backed away. I turned and told her not to touch me again. She spewed more hate. In a weak, confused moment, I told her she was a “pig” — not a proud moment but I didn’t know what to think. I knew I was not going to get into a physical confrontation with someone who was so enraged. She spoke to me in English and called me a pig. Touche. And then, she spit at me. That was a first.

And with that, she backed away some more and I moved my direction. It was strange, but I didn’t experience fear. It was unsettling, though. Onward and upward and on to better days in Paris.



A view inside Cafe Angelina.
The L’arc de triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris.
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