Perpignan locals: very helpful, very fun

The paranoia that my mother and her friends tried to instill within me actually seeped in the other night.

Thursday night, a bunch of American girls, tired of working and elated to be in Perpignan, went looking for a little nightlife — meaning more than a glass of wine.

A little alley in Perpignan

Got the scene?

The Perpignan Project ladies scoped the city and thought that we found an amazing little restaurant to grab a bottle of wine.

As we approached, a young, thin, beautiful stiletto-wearing French woman immediately perked up, “I speak no English, you want a disco, you want to dance, yeah, yeah?”

We did not want a disco, and we did not want to dance, “yeah, yeah.”

Apparently my horrific French did not work and all of a sudden my five comrades and myself were following this long-legged French woman through the streets of Perpignan.

All of the stories my mother tried to tell me were now beginning to flood into my memory. Scenes from the movies Touristas and Hostel flashed my mind.

Were we being taken to a back alley?

Were we off to some den where some guy was going to sell my kidney to a man in Russia?

A left here, a right there, natives staring at a large group of women. What in the world was going on?

And there, at a dead end of a tiny little street in Perpignan, was a Catalan flag.

We had arrived at the most local bar in Perpignan.

Notorious BIG blared and apparently Heinekens cost five euro.

Celine, as in “Celine Dion,” introduced us, “These are my American friends.”

She was amazing.

Her friends were kind and willing to practice their English and sit through our renditions of French; we little American girls were welcomed with open arms and warm beers.

The stereotype that French people “dislike” Americans is completely wrong. In fact, I have had many amazing encounters with the inhabitants of Perpignan and Paris. Celine stayed out with us, gushed about our humor and told us she loved American music and basketball.

I was warned to be scared, distrustful and aware with the native of France. Fortunately I didn’t do so with Celine.

At home in San Francisco I often give tourists my list of “hot spots” and “local treasures,” and that is exactly what she did for us.

Not only did we appreciate it, but also I think that we six girls got to experience some of the “real” Perpignan that many twenty-somethings do not ever get to see.