I will never forget when I went to Paris with my high school marching band. We actually took a 10 day tour of Western Europe, but it is Paris that made the biggest impression on me as a teenager. I was warned that Parisians are rude to Americans, especially if they don't speak French; I found this to be quite untrue. Armed with my 2 years of German, wandered the streets of Paris with a couple of friends one afternoon. We spent hours at the top of the Eiffel Tower, just taking in the scenery. We explored to the Notre Dame de Paris, gazing upwards at the weathered gargoyles and saints. We ate at various cafes along the sidewalk and explored small shops down the side streets. It was a beautiful time in a city that quickly became my favorite.
If I could, there is one thing that I would bring back to my current city; I would bring back the boulanger and the patisserie. The bread was the most delicious I have ever tasted; it was pretty much all I ate while I was there, with some cheese on the side. We would just go to a bakery and buy a baguette with some turkey, lettuce, and butter on it for lunch. As we walked down the street, we saw mothers and children stopping by to pick up bread for dinner. This availability of fresh, artisan, bread really made an impression on me. It was a little bit of the past right here in the present for us to participate in. No big grocery stores with harsh lighting, just a family selling their baked goods behind a counter. Friendly and welcoming to each person that came into their shop.