Ici on parle le français!

View from my tiny 16th-century apartment in the Rue de la Jusienne, Paris 2007I got off the plane and found my way downstairs to baggage claim and the trains. A kiosk promised tickets. I got in line. In front of me, a tall American man and his wife. Near the booth, a French woman, impossibly chic in her airport uniform.

As we inched closer to the kiosk, it became apparent that not only did the machine not take cards, it did not take cash. It took only coins. In order to use the machine you had to first stand in line to change your money into euros, or stand in the line to buy a ticket from a person. There was no sign. You had to wait till you got to the kiosk to find out.

As the man in front of me began to realize this he consulted briefly with his wife then signaled to the French official and began to ask a question, to which she waved a long finger quickly back and forth and said crisply, "Ici on parle le français!".

Welcome to Paris, y'all. Here we speak French.