Tonight, my friend and I decided to stroll around Sacre Coeur. I had found during my spring break adventure in Paris a cute piano bar and loved it. From the 14 euro three course formule, to the waiter, and of course the amazing piano player I finally have found a place that I can call “my own “in Paris. What upsets me about this neighborhood is the journey to get up to the Montmatre area. Sacre Coeur has a reputation for having some of the best scams in Paris. Especially one that involves having naïve women try on bracelets and then insisting that they buy them. Luckily, I’ve been to Paris before and was aware of what to do. My plan of action is the following: (1) Speak French (they usually target tourist, aka not les français), (2) Swerve, and (3) Don’t make eye contact. Tonight, like the numerous times before I made my trek up the stairs with my rules in mind. Being a Wednesday night, and a lack of tourists, this plan did not pan out. 5 guys walked up to my friend and I, blocking the stairs going up to the church. I politely (while looking away) said no, and tried to swerve in the other direction. Somehow , out of insane logic that meant grabbing my writ and cornering me. To say that I was livid was an understatement. Thankfully (and unfortunately) I’ve encountered similar situations and knew what to do. I started cussing in French.
So now, after a full stomach with French food, I’m sitting here on my laptop. It’s nothing terrible that happened to me, but I am pissed that the situation happened. I realize that I can’t control others, but I damn sometimes wish I could have tried to prevent it in some way. I love seeing the Sacre Coeur and Montmatre neighborhood. I shouldn’t have to consider, or even stop seeing my favorite place in Paris because they decided to make cheap ugly string bracelet scamming a living. I have no sympathy for people like this. What makes it worse is that these men use their origins as an excuse for their behavior. Just because you state that you’re from Africa does not mean you can (or should regardless of where you’re from) in a rude fashion. If I don’t like random people smiling at me, how do you think I’m going to react when you’re forcing me to try a tacky bracelet?
The situation overall just sucks. I want to feel comfortable walking around the streets of Paris. If I can’t feel comfortable enough to walk at times with my friends how I am supposed to feel comfortable walking around with myself? I also don’t want to have to rely on asking 1 of the 5 guys in the program for “protection”, because let’s face it, I hate the idea of being dependent on someone else. I want to use this interaction as a learning experience. I have to remember that as much as I hate to say it, there are some rude people living in Paris. Like every city, there are going to be some bad apples wherever you go. Yes, I might be a little flustered from the situation that happened tonight to me, but it was a wake-up call for me to have a watchful eye and to realize that there’s a reason why some places like Sacre Coeur are called a tourist traps.
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<div> My name is Sabrina Kennelly. Currently, I am majoring in French and Communication Studies with a certificate in International Journalism. My interests include journalism, learning foreign languages, communication studies, social media, photography, and of course traveling! </div>