Traveling In Paris

Day 11 #WorldWatercolorGroup Paris Metro Sign

It’s now less than two weeks away that I’ll be traveling back to Paris, so for the public transportation prompt today we have the Paris Metro. Well, not the actual subway, but the sign that marks an entrance.  I typically shy away from anything with letters in it, so I decided to give this a go. And it’s the primary way of getting around in Paris cheaply and efficiently so I’ll be seeing this sign quite a lot soon. Although there’s an occasional issue, you can usually count on waiting only three minutes before the next train arrives. I was there on my birthday a few years ago and had fun getting off at various stops, arriving in completely different neighborhoods that I’d not visited before. Philippe was still working there at the time, so I was on my own a lot during the day. I love getting lost in Paris, but as long as I can find an entrance to the Metro, I know I can always find my way back.

When I first met Philippe, I began to study French and although I got rather good at reading it, actually speaking the language was a complete loss. No matter how I pronounced anything, it was nearly always guaranteed to be wrong. I spent months watching online videos of people trying to explain how to pronounce the French “R” in hopes I might be able to perfect it. Instead of sounding like a native, I sounded more like a chain smoker just getting over a bad head cold. I thought, perhaps then, I could simply make a concerted effort to avoid words with an “R” in them, but that proved stupid and absolutely impossible. Since that time, it’s been over two years since we’ve been back and I’ve not practiced my French at all.

With less than two weeks to go, I’m starting to look at those French lessons again, but it’s far too late to do anything meaningful. Thankfully, when I’m there and traveling underground, simply seeing the sights, I’ll never have to talk to anyone at all. This is the part I’m looking forward to most. The inevitable interactions with people there, on the other hand, are going to be perfectly awkward and thoroughly embarrassing as always. Maybe one day, I’ll finally figure out how to speak the language without sounding so ridiculous. Until that time, you’re far more likely to find me quietly observing everything from a safe distance. I’ll be sketching there for the first time now, whenever I can, while heading underground every so often, to travel by Metro.

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M. Graham Watercolors:  Gamboge, Pyrrol Red, Cobalt Teal, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.
Day 11 #WorldWatercolorGroup Paris Metro Sign
Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
40 Comments
  1. Teri C 9 months ago

    What fun! Paris has been on my bucket list for years and it will probably die there so I am really looking forward to seeing all your sketches.

  2. Jodi 9 months ago

    Cannot wait to hear more about your adventures in Paris soon! Another great post and doodlewash! 🙂

  3. hmunro 9 months ago

    *Swoon!* I love your painting — et je suis vraiment jalouse à propos de ton voyage ! Paris is my favorite city, even if every visit brings at least one mortifying linguistic gaffe. But at least we’ve made an effort, right? And I’m sure you’ll charm their socks off anyway with your beautiful sketches.

    • Author

      Awww… you’re too sweet! Thanks, Heather! 😃💕 We’ll see how it goes linguistically… probably not well, but that won’t stop me from having a lovely time! hehe

      • hmunro 9 months ago

        Pas de soucis, Charlie … talking is overrated anyway. 🙂 Bon séjour !

      • Author

        Hehe… totally overrated when one can simply smile! I’ll be smiling a lot to point of looking a complete idiot! 😊lol

      • hmunro 9 months ago

        It’s OK, Charlie — the French assume we’re idiots anyway. HA HA.

      • Author

        This is very true!! LOL

  4. Curious to the Max 9 months ago

    In my 20’s I spent 5 months in Paris. I relentlessly practiced saying “No, merci” so I wouldn’t have to talk to the sales clerks in the department stores when they asked if I needed help (I had NO money to buy anything). Luckily, I was living in the suburbs where all the people were really friendly, didn’t care about my accent and were just thrilled I was attempting to speak French. Paris remains one of my favorite places in the world. Haven’t been back so I’ll have to travel vicariously through you. So! . . . you’d better have a great time!

    • Author

      That’s fabulous, Judy! 😃💕 Glad you’re a fan of Paris as well. Yeah… I’m never in the city center much and more on the fringes. I do find people to be a little friendlier as long as you seem to be trying. hehe… Can’t wait to go!

  5. memadtwo 9 months ago

    Paris beckons! Looking forward to your sketches…(K)

  6. circadianreflections 9 months ago

    Your sign is neat! I wish I was heading back to Paris. It’s been awhile since I was last there.

    Oh my gosh the French R!! I practiced that R at the back of my throat for months! I found a good lesson and very nearly had it. I can read French too pretty well, but speaking it…I’m never going to be fluent, and I butcher an awful lot of words when I speak it, so I totally get it! Still I’d love to go and try! 🙂 Heck I’d even try plein air sketching and painting! Something I’ve rarely done.

    I’m looking forward to your posts from the city of Lights. Bon voyage!

    • Author

      Thanks, Deborah! 😃💕 Yeah… the French “R” is going to remain a mystery to me I think. I’m lucky to even remember enough words to get by. I’m pretty good at other languages, but for some reason French and I just don’t get along well. I’ll keep trying though!

  7. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 9 months ago

    My mom lives in a residence for people with Alzheimer’s. One of the other residents was born in Casablanca, and having lived at this residence for at least 8 years, her illness has caused such a decline that she now speaks a lot of French. Trying to be kind to her and meet her where she “is” right now, I started talking to her in French. She never understands anything I say, but she smiles graciously.
    May you have the same warm response in Paris – a smile, graciously given. Au revoir – even if it’s a few weeks away.

    • Author

      What a beautiful story, Sharon! 😃💕 I think you definitely made her happy for trying. Hopefully I will get the same response. Even if they have no idea what I’m mumbling. And actually just a week from this Thursday, so not far now!

  8. Jill Kuhn 9 months ago

    I tried (sort of) to learn Spanish before my trip to Mexico but failed miserably. I learned to point a lot and say, Gracias when I was there. Lol! 😉 I’m sure you know more than you think! Look forward to your Doodlewashes while you are there! How exciting to have some time to wander and paint while you are there! 🎨💕👍

    • Author

      Thanks, Jill! 😃💕 I find Spanish much easier than French… at least you pronounce everything that’s there. But still have an “R” issue in Spanish as well. I think I was doomed when it comes to that letter. Even had to go to speech therapy as a kid to speak the English “R” correctly. Lol Hoping for lots of time to wander and sketch (without having to talk to anyone! hehe)! Can’t wait!

  9. Margriet Bierens 9 months ago

    A nice one this Doodlewash-metro-sign, very clear and you can see it from a distance, that,s a safe-feeling for many tourists!
    Paris is wonderfull and interesting.
    I have paint a serie of Paris, about 20 paintings, in acrylic, two of them making over in watercolor and I have the intention to make a few more in this medium. It is not so easy to watercolor a well known city as Paris but one day I will give it a try!

    For now Charlie have a nice day wherever you are at this moment!

    • Author

      Thanks, Margriet! 😃💕 Yeah… it’s a really lovely city. I hope to do it justice in my sketches while I’m there. For now, I’m still in Kansas City though… hehe… dreaming of Paris.

  10. Great sign, bold and vibrant….I guess it means it’s doing a good job, saying ‘ here I am’ .
    Enjoy Paris, and so good to know you will have time to paint 😀

    • Author

      Thanks, Rebecca! 😃💕 I don’t really have much else planned other than wandering and sketching… hehe… so should be super fun!

      • Sounds like a great plan….if you happen to pop over the water to the south coast of England, new forest in particular, give me a shout! He he I think that your trip to Paris will be crammed full of places to visit 😀

      • Author

        Awww… I would love to visit!! But yeah… I’m not sure we’re even going to leave Paris this trip unfortunately. 😥

      • I don’t think you will either…so much to do and see, and catch up on for Philippe ….are you going to take a break from blogging while you are away? 😀

      • Author

        hehe… not planning on it, but we’ll see how it all goes. I kind of like the idea of reporting live, if I can grab the time!

  11. Cathe 9 months ago

    I’m so happy to see your Metro sign. Before reading your post, I hoped it was going to be about your upcoming trip, so happy it is! Sounds like you have a perfect plan for a very enjoyable trip with or without speaking French!

    I look forward to seeing this lovely city through your eyes Charlie!

    • Author

      Thanks, Cathe!! 😃💕 Yeah, it should be really… no major plans and so hopefully lots of free time to wander and sketch. Not even sure what I’ll be sketching so it’s going to be fun to find out!

  12. Linda Murray 9 months ago

    Love your Metro sign, Charlie. It would be like a beacon in the fog for me. I got lost in Chicago trying to find the El. As an Iowa native, I find myself very intimidated leaving my “safe” haven. The rest of my family have no problem exploring. So, I admire your sense of adventure. Have a wonderful time while in Paris and I will anxiously await a peek into another part of the world I will never see!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Linda! 😃💕 I’ve only traveled to Europe, but keep wanting to see more of the world. Since my partner is Parisian, we go to Paris every couple years to visit friends and family. It gets more familiar each time, which is really nice.

  13. creatingincolors 9 months ago

    Can’t wait to read of your adventure in Paris and see what you sketch! I am sure you’ll overcome the language issue one step at a time as you explore. That Metro really does sound like an efficient way to travel and see many places, and only a three-minute wait! Enjoy every minute!

    • Author

      Thanks so much! Yeah… I’m pretty excited to go. And the Metro spoils me with it’s short wait times. In my city you’re lucky if you wait less than 20 minutes and can usually get places faster by walking! lol

  14. Carmel Campbell 9 months ago

    I love your sign! The lettering is very cool. But gosh I am very excited about your trip. I look forward to seeing your sketches. Remember to take a moment to sketch it day!

    • Author

      Thanks, Carmel! 😃💕 I never really have any time to sketch in public so that’s the part I’m looking forward to most! Never sketched there yet, so it should be really fun!

  15. […] via Traveling In Paris — Doodlewash […]

  16. Alyson Rich 6 months ago

    I have been living in Paris for over a year and when I try to speak to French I still get the, Como!? People don’t seem to understand my French.. It is not easy! Usually I resort back to my english.. Maybe one day I will get it. I hope you enjoyed!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Alyson! 😃💕 I truly appreciate hearing that!!! hehe… I think that’s why it’s more difficult to me than any other language I’ve tried. In those languages I was immediately understood, but in French nothing I say seems to register. Ugh!

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