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Rich, delicious cupcakes from the Farmer’s Market in Waterloo/St. Jacobs. I could not find a good cupcake in Paris that was worth its price.

Those were the words uttered by my hubby this summer since arriving in hometown Toronto from our year adventure in Paris. Paris is hard to shake off our minds, it is so vibrant yet full of charm that modern cities lack. Don’t get me wrong — our first two weeks here were warm and fuzzy with the comforting familiarity of seeing our old neighbours, chatting with the employees at our usual grocery store, walking through our Danforth neighbourhood and seeing some new businesses  surface (particularly nail spas!) while old ones disappeared during the year we vacated. But the buildings are not centuries old, there are no pretty parks/gardens adorned by classic white statues, and the weather has been constantly blistering hot and humid, something I definitely didn’t miss while in scarf-worn Paris.

Danforth Avenue: the main street in my hood. There’s a lovely old Greek church among the shops and restos as you move further west but really, it ain’t Paris central.

Other notable differences: 1] People in Canada are generally larger. I don’t feel fat here because I am petite but in Paris, I was embarrassed to show my fat legs that couldn’t fit into ANY calf-high boot I liked (ignoring the trendy UGGS). Parisians are genuinely slender folk and wear well-fitted clothes–no baggy pants or oversized t-shirts there! 2] Parisians generally don’t wear hats for sun protection but more likely for a fashion statement.

Oh my Lord: I’ve got a floppy hat and shorts — completely dressed for functionality and not fashion — and I’m in front of a hotdog stand by the Canadian Tire for lunch. Any Parisian finesse has been completey thrown out the window…

3] European women in general don’t wear shorts, just kids and young men can get away with it. 4] Flip-flops and gymwear are only worn on the beach and during a workout respectively in Paris. North Americans will wear whatever is comfortable in public — flip flops, track pants, even pajamas (teenagers and that age group can get away with that). 5] I can stand in a queue without fear of anyone or everyone casually budding in front of me. 6] On the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway, I have no fears of being pickpocketed by gypsies, but will likely not be given a seat when standing with my young children. Paris was great for men, women AND teenagers giving up their seats for older persons or young children. I adore the French for their etiquette on public transit.

On the platform of the gated Metro (subway) “Line 1.” It is heavily-used and hence, gypsy-laden, between the stations most frequented by tourists.

7] We miss our fresh baguettes and pastry shops that were as common as green grocers in France. And why are the baguettes in Toronto so rubbery?!

My French neighbour in Toronto tipped me off to an authentic French patisserie just east of our hood. Ahhh, so I can still feel French by eating good flaky croissants and mouthwatering brioche.

Well it’s pretty clear that we miss Paris and that comparisons are futile. But I am still going to continue this blog outside the “City of Light” by showing more photos of Paris to relive old memories and make comparisons/contrasts with my life back in Toronto now. For instance, I couldn’t buy the long, baggy swim trunks that North Americans generally wear for swimming. In Europe, this style of clothing is reserved for surfers. So when we returned to Canada, I didn’t have time to buy my son new swim trunks. So the European swim brief made its first (and last) debut at a beach north of Toronto this summer. Luckily my son looks decent in them. Can’t say the same for old European men…

Memories of France: I had to buy “Speedo-ish” swimming trunks for my son in Paris because this style was required by his pool outings at his school.

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