The Watering Hole Blog

Non Madame – Parisians Say No

Non Madame – Parisians Know How to Say No


MA in raspberry beret (found in a second hand store), waiting for the Metro

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Bonjour Mesdames et Messieurs!

Parisians know how to say no. I lost count of the times Heather and I were given a polite but firm no over the past ten days.

Me (in a restaurant): “Can we sit here?”

Waiter: “Non Madame.”

Heather (en francais, in grocery store): “Can I pay for my groceries in this line?

Cashier: “Non Madame.”

Random tourist in front of Sainte Chapelle: “Can I go in the church?”

Security guard: “Non Madame.” (fair enough – it was closing for a concert)

Sometimes the reason for the no is clear; other times not so much. But it doesn’t matter. No is no. I love it. As a woman who has struggled with the art of saying no for (gulp) half a century, I loved the ease with which the Parisians could do so – politely, firmly and with no obligation to provide an excuse or reason.

So when the cashier at the boulangerie around the corner from our sweet little VRBO (Mon Petit Maison) tried to give me a tattered and torn 5 euro bill in change, I shook my head, smiled and said, “Non Madame.”

She was NOT pleased. But you know what? That’s just too damn bad. If you can give a no, you can take one, too.

And that, mes amis, is a little lesson on boundaries for today 🙂

Here are some more photos from the ever so lovely (except when the streets are on fire during protests, as they were the night before we left) Paris:

Grande Roue de Paris at Place de la Concorde
Strolling the Jardin des Tuileries


Behind the iconic clock at Musée d’Orsay


Gorgeous courtyard near Place des Vosges


Unbelievably beautiful Hall of Mirrors at Palais Garnier (Opera House)


Love this shot of Heathe outside the Palace of Versailles – rather Alice in Wonderland!


Gold as far as the eye can see at the Palace of Versailles
MA & Heathe in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles
The back of the Palace of Versailles…here comes the rain!

A few more Paris photos to come in next week’s blog…


Related blogs by Maryanne

Salut Mes Amis!

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life

Share this post

10 thoughts on “Non Madame – Parisians Say No”

  1. Bonjour! My only experience in Paris was at the airport, where we heard no, also. Especially when we asked if they found my daughter’s wheelchair! They finally found it a few hours later. Thanks for sharing your trip and the awesome photographs!

  2. I love the opening quote; reminds me of this one: “Wherever you go, there you are.” I’ve told a friend over and over…. “If you’re shy and anti-social in Nassau, you’ll be shy and anti-social in Italy.” And you thrifted that baret… Maryanne, I’m a thrifting junkie….I opened a reseller’s rack! Recycle and help save the environment! Your post was very cheeky and funny by the way.

  3. Oh, isn’t that the truth, Sherelle? Wherever you go, there you are.I have learned THAT over and over again. Things don’t change until we do.

    I was a bit self conscious wearing the beret at first but then I realized the material was perfect to keep my head warm but not hot. And it was made in Canada! You sound like a pro-thrifter…fantastique 🙂

    Glad you liked the blog!

  4. ACK! The airline (or airport) lost your daughter’s wheelchair? Oh my goodness. I am VERY glad they found it again a couple of hours later. But wow, eh?

    Next time you are in that neck of the woods you will have to go see some of the Paris sights!

  5. I was laughing all the way through this! You write with such a great sense of humour Maryanne and this is a wonderful twist on the lessons we learn and the things we observe when we’re on our travels. And you’re absolutely right…if you’re going to give it, then you have to be able to take it. Loving the photos too. Elliot

  6. Hahahahaha…glad you liked this blog, Elliot, and it gave you a laugh! The Parisians certainly have THEIR way of doing things 🙂

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.