In June, I went to France for a work trip. My husband joined me for the first leg, a weekend in Paris. We were both so busy with work following up to the trip that we didn’t plan anything, except our air travel and hotel stay in a residential neighborhood in the 7th Arrondissement. We spent the weekend walking around the city and stopping at restaurants or cafes that looked good. I needed to check my email often for work, and had difficulty finding WiFi much of the time. I started to realize that I was the only one on the street or in a café with my iPhone by my side.
I didn’t see any French men or women talking on the phone as they walked down the street. No one was checking in to Foursquare at restaurants. Kids weren’t texting or playing handheld games. It was refreshing to see, and it was civil.
On Sunday, we read books in Luxembourg Gardens as we watched Parisian children launching boats in the water. Shops were closed on Sunday, so families had little choice but to have a quiet day with their families. I thought about how in my Boston suburb, Sundays are filled with errands to stock up on groceries, a run to Home Depot and prepping for the week.
Another thing that caught my eye (maybe because I have a 10 year old girl), were the elementary school-aged girls walking hand in hand with their parents and often carrying dolls or other toys that most American kids would deem too babyish after preschool. It was sweet to see, and I wondered if French children get to enjoy being a child longer that American children.
Paris is Paris and one could argue that their economy isn’t what ours is, however- the French know how to live. If only we all put our smart phones away and slowed down a bit. Let’s bring a little France to America.