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I’ll wager that the typical young French professional—male or female—probably eats in restaurants more than he or she dines at home. And I will admit at the outset that I have no statistical data to support that claim. This is just my opinion, although it’s based on personal observation and a number of conversations with young Parisians.
For instance, a couple of years ago, I was having dinner in a typical Paris restaurant and the place was packed—small tables crowded together inside and spilling out onto the sidewalk outside.
I couldn’t help but notice that most of the patrons seemed rather young to me—late 20s and barely into their 40’s—but they were certainly spending money! There was one and sometimes two bottles of wine on each table and at least a couple of courses of food had been ordered.
I said earlier that this was a typical Parisian restaurant. That does not mean it was inexpensive. My meal was good, but not great. It included dessert, a glass of wine, an espresso, and the tip, which is automatically included. The bill came to about US$75. And I was dining alone.
My waiter spoke English and I remarked that this must be an affluent crowd here tonight. He shook his head. “No”, he said, “this is a typical crowd on a weekday night. Most of them will be back again this weekend.”
That surprised me. “Then where do they get the money?” I asked.
The waiter looked at me as though I was hopelessly slow. “This is Paris, monsieur! Here we enjoy the evenings with our friends and good food and a nice glass of wine.
“But,” I said, “where do they get the money to pay for all of this?”
“They don’t own automobiles,” he said. “Do you know what a place to park your car costs here? Then there is the cost of petrol and insurance . . .” He paused. “ . . . and repairs when the damn thing breaks . . .”
Of course he was right and I got the picture. But he was on a roll.
“If we want to go somewhere in the city, we take the metro. If we want to go anywhere in the country, or in Europe, we have the TGV.”
He shrugged and hurried off to take care of a foursome at another table ready to pay up and be on their way.
And all I could think was, the French really do have it figured out.
This article first appeared on www.trainsandtravel.com
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