It has been just over a week since we returned to the States. I’d like to pass along a few last tips about spending 30 Days In Paris.
Don’t rush…. You have 30 days! But do keep track of your time and create a list of things you really want to experience. 30 days seems like a lot, but as they say, time flies. Try and check one thing off the list each day.
Learn a few basic words and phrases in French. It is the polite thing to do. Younger locals were more eager to speak English, and more capable.
If you are standing on the sidewalk at 40 Rue Reaumur don’t expect 41 Rue Reaumur to be right across the street. It may be on the other side the street but it could very well be way down the block if not, sometimes, on the next block down.
At restaurants if you want something “To Go” it is best to ask for “Take Away”. They seem to understand that English phrase much better.
You will see very few children in restaurants in the evenings.
Pay close attention to the prices at restaurants that offer menus in a wide variety of different languages. Check the cost of a soda for comparison and use that as a gauge.
A service charge is included in the price of each item you purchase at a restaurant. No need to add an additional tip unless you have had exceptional service.
The Paris water has very high level of calcium and can dry the skin. Bring your favorite lotion from home.
Bring 2 copies of your favorite travel guide, our favorite was Rick Steve’s, buy it here http://amzn.to/rickstevesparis , one copy to keep intact and one to tear the pages out of and carry with you. Also check this guide for latest prices and details that can change.
The “Latin” quarter refers to the Latin language, not the region. The Latin Quarter was once the center of higher education in Paris.
If you look out your window and the streets are wet it doesn’t mean it has been raining. Morning street cleaning trucks spray lots of water.
Weather can be unpredictable. Pack a few things for cooler or hotter weather than you expect.
Parisians dress for everything, casual, but very fashionable.
Americans can often be spotted by their white tennis shoes, bright colored clothes, and loud voices. I think that makes them stand out and a possible target for criminals.
Shhh.. If you want to “fit in” listen to how the local Parisians are speaking in public and mirror them. A loud American always stands out.
In Paris they look at floors in buildings differently than we do in the US. They look at it as ground floor, then up to the 1st floor, then up to the 2nd floor. So our 2nd story apartment was really on what we would cal the 3rd floor of the building. And because many buildings have high ceilings each floor can equal alot of stairs. I don't know what senior citizens do. Now that I think about it I didn't see many...
Take a few Euros with you when you leave. For me my everyday bank had the best deal for getting Euros before the trip.
Also find out from your local bank if they have an ATM relationship with a bank in Paris. If they do you can save on transaction/service charges. During our 30 Days In Paris Euros from ATMS gave us the best conversion deal.
Take a Travelex Cash Passport pre-paid debt card charged with a small amount of Euros. Don’t carry it with you, leave it in your apartment. If you are pick pocketed or robbed you will have that card available to you. In the event of a emergency or major financial problem, like a medical problem, you can have someone in the USA charge up the card. Leave the cards 16 digit number with a friend or family member at home. Your contact back in the USA can go to any Travelex office and charge up your card.
Always be aware of pickpockets especially when you see signs, in English, that say “Beware of Pickpockets” at tourist attractions. Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket, women should keep purses closed and securely in front of their bodies.
Try not to take your wallet out in public places. Especially if a “local” has initiated a reason to do it. Someone nearby may be ready to run by and grab your wallet. Keep some change readily available for those transactions.
Check out the Museum Pass option. It didn’t work for us because of our 30 day stay. The Museum Pass requires you to visit the included museums during a set period of time. We figured we would opt for the pay as you go option and not kill our feet by trying to visit all the big museums within consecutive days.
Get a monthly Metro pass, or a book of tickets for the subway. It will take a few trips to get used to the way it works, but after you have it figured out it is a great system. Same for the bus system. Avoid using the RER for trips within the city.
If your forced to stand close to the door on a Metro subway car make sure you have a firm grip on your purse, backpack, suitcase, etc… Someone may grab it just before the doors close. When the doors close thats it, the train is moving before you know it.
Don’t try to enter a crowded Metro subway car when the door closing warning sound and lights have activated. Even if the car is not crowded, stay clear of the doors, be aware that the automated door close very fast and tight. Getting something caught in the door will most likely require the assistance of other riders to free it.
When the car is crowded do not sit in the fold down jump seats found near the doors of Metro subway cars. I is impolite and propagates the “ugly tourist” image. Signs are posted in the cars stating this rule.
When you come out of a Metro station and find yourself at street level you may feel very lost. It takes a while to be able to orient yourself. Every Paris intersection can look the same. Try and become familiar with your destination using something like Google Maps if you have a computer with you. If not check the Metro station you are exiting. Sometimes on the platform or nearby you will see a map of the surface streets that surrounding the station. In many cases one station can have multiple sorties/exits. These various exits are numbered to help you find your way to the best exit for your destination. Good Luck. Navigating the last 2-3 blocks was one of our biggest issues we had when getting around Paris.
Your US credit or debit cards will not work in the automated machines found at train stations. They use a European card standard that includes an electronic chip in the card. Note: Your US cards will often work at the automated ticket machines at museums.
Try and stay informed. Especially if you know things are happening in Paris, for us it was the strikes and terrorist warnings. You can find the English International Herald Tribune newspaper on many newsstands. Don’t expect your apartment to have CNN or other cable channels in English.
Get to the market. First time is challenging, but after that it is a snap. Buy some basics and you can reduce your meals out saving you lots of Euros during your 30 Days In Paris.
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