PDA

View Full Version : Suggestions for Paris please!


SauceyBlueConfetti
08-16-2008, 10:41 AM
ok, starting to get closer...we leave Sept 9th and are starting to plan what we are doing on the "free days" of the trip.

Already planned:
Versaille Seine River tour
Effeil Tower
Notre Dame
Louvre
a couple of chateux for wine tasting and tours
Normandy


Any suggestions? Any travel tips? You know, like, don't buy the visitor pass for $gazillion when you can get a cheaper version at the bus stationor something???

Any place you have been that you think is a must see???

Sarevok
08-16-2008, 11:07 AM
Advice from my sister, who was there with her bf last year:
Don't give the street salesmen the impression that there's even the smallest possibility that you might buy something.

Davian93
08-16-2008, 03:41 PM
Keep a lock on any backpack (one of those small travel locks on the zipper) you carry...a friend of mine got robbed when we were there when he didnt' listen to me.

Oh and speak German at them...that frightens them;)

Brita
08-16-2008, 04:34 PM
Musée d'Orsay Hands down my favourite part of Paris!

I only had a couple days to whirl through the city- but to see the impressionist paintings was just incredible- I found it much more inspiring than the Louvre.

And bring comfortable shoes- you can see so much in along La Seine by walking, but your feet feel it by the end of the day.

Ozymandias
08-16-2008, 11:34 PM
Not to be a downer, but don't go. Paris is without question my least favorite city in the world. Its a shithole. I saw more pickpockets there than anywhere in my life, the place is literally an open sewer most of the time (they flood the streets to get rid of the trash every so often), and they're anti-Semites to boot.

To my mind, the joy of climbing a big metal tower, if you can call it fun, is far outweighed by the rotting atmosphere of the rest of the city. The food sucked, the people were highly unfriendly, and it had a fake cosmopolitan feel which sacrificed the culture of the city to cater to tourists.

The only good thing? Great cheese and fresh baked bread every morning was delicious.

1Powerslave
08-17-2008, 06:43 AM
I'm sure you've already intended to do this with the sights you've planned. But the 2 kilometer straight line walk from Lourvre to the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees to Arc de Triomphe is very beautiful and impressive. The architecture is very nice IMO, and the whole straight line thing is cool and grand. I'd say walking this is a must.

You could also go to Sacre Coeur, which is a pretty cool old church in Montamarte. Lying on a pretty big hill it offers a good view of the city.
You could then continue to go see the Moulin Rouge, in the redlight district, which is close to Montamarte.
Definatly no must these two, but it might be fun. View of the city you'll get if you go up in the Eiffel Tower. Might be fun to have been at the Moulin Rouge if you like the movie. ;)

Don't forget to take time to stop at small cafes when you get tired of walking.

Yes, the french can be very unfriendly and unserviceminded. Especially if you don't know french. It can be irritating, but can also give fun stories. You have to look at it that way.

Like when Mattias and I accidentally walking into a 1st class sleeping car. Two tired and unshowered interrailers with huge packpacks shortly ran into a middle aged frenchman in a nice uniform. It soon became clear that we didn't belong in that particular car. The "owner" of that car began shouting in french and then "GET OUT OF MY CAR!!". It took a while to get out since we couldn't turn in that narrow aisle with our backpacks and there were people crowding in behind us. We were certainly glad to get out of "HIS" car.

Anyway. It looks like you some great trips planned. I pray for good weather on that!

ETA:
Also, should you happen to pass a Creperie don't hesitate! I love Crepes and Galettes. My recommendation for a galette is one with emmentaler cheese. Yum. Some cider with that and you'll wear a stupid smile for a while.

Ishara
08-18-2008, 07:29 AM
Wow Ozy. That wasn't negative at all...:rolleyes:

I had a fabulous time in Paris when I went in May/ June of this year and found that people were very helpful and very friendly. Not once did I encounter the famous french rudeness. People helped carry my luggae, opened doors and smiled all the time.

My must see was pretty much Notre Dame. I spent the whole day there, touring the cathedral, taking pictures of the gypsies in front of the church - they didn't see the irony in that, and then climbing the towers. It was a real effort (the steps are very tight, very narrow and very steep), but so, SO worth it. Seeing Paris from the heart of the city was really life altering. And the chimeres/ gargoyles were epic.

I also loved the Musee du Moyen Age, where the famous Unicorn tapestries are. We did the Eiffel Tower at night, and I would suggest doing the same, since it's all lit up and the lines are substantially shorter.

I found the Louvre to be really overwhelming, and underwhelming at the same time. Too much to take in, and too many people to take it in properly. But Winged Victory made the trip alone worth it.

Um, if you eat nothing else, you have to have a crepe from a creperie, and a macaroon from Laduree. Best Treat. Ever.

For a guidebook, if you buy the Eyewitness Paris, you won't need anything else. Great maps, good tidbits and tips etc.

Davian93
08-18-2008, 07:33 AM
Yes on the crepes...love the crepe stands everywhere.

NotreDame is awesome as is the Louvre (which you could spend a week in)


I noticed the key with being an American in Paris:

1. Speak French whenever possible even if its to say please and thankyou...

2. Make fun of other Americans and our country to them. They loved that.

3. Watch out for pickpockets.;) There are a bunch of them gunning for stupid american tourists.

JSUCamel
08-18-2008, 07:42 AM
3. Watch out for pickpockets. There are a bunch of them gunning for stupid american tourists.

An addendum to that, which applies to every city you ever go to... act local. Watch how the locals act (cross the street, talk, drive, etc) and emulate them. It will make you look less like a tourist, and thus less of a target for pickpockets and such. Also, the locals will be much more likely to talk to you politely and help you have a good time. Speaking French whenever possible helps with that.

Davian93
08-18-2008, 08:02 AM
I love the people that wear big fanny packs and have blatantly USA sweatshirts or their college shirt or ~insert US stereotype crap outfit~ on. Those are the best..they're usually the ones that say foreigners are rude too. (Ozy being the exception to that rule...apparently he just no like Frenchies)

Gilshalos Sedai
08-18-2008, 08:06 AM
SBC, I am totally and completely jealous of your trip.


I hate you now.


OK, I really don't. But I'm still jealous. ;)

Brita
08-18-2008, 08:07 AM
Apparently the Versaille Castle is just amazing. I didn't have time to see it, but it was highly recommended by several people.

1. Speak French whenever possible even if its to say please and thankyou...
Agree.

I found the Louvre to be really overwhelming, and underwhelming at the same time. Too much to take in, and too many people to take it in properly. But Winged Victory made the trip alone worth it.
Agree. But it is worth going just to say you did.

I saw more pickpockets there than anywhere in my life, the place is literally an open sewer most of the time (they flood the streets to get rid of the trash every so often),
Agree, unfortunately. The city is dirty and stinky- just be prepared for that. All the pretty spots along La Seine are inhabited by the homeless- which makes it a little intimidating to leisurely enjoy a stroll along the banks.

the people were highly unfriendly
Disagree. On the flight over a man from France warned me how rude the Parisians were, and apologized in advance- yet I did not find this at all. But, like Dav said, they do appreciate you speaking French as much as possible, no matter how much you botch it up. And no, I did not wear a Canadian flag to win them over ;)

Oh- and did I mention this (http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html)?

Gilshalos Sedai
08-18-2008, 08:08 AM
SBC, do you speak French or have a phrase book?

Ishara
08-18-2008, 08:49 AM
I think I disagree on the speaking french thing as a necessity. I didn't find it to be - they're charmed for the most part if you try, but even if you open up the conversation with a "bonjour" and then use your english you should be fine.Paris is the most metropolitain city in the world. Almost everybody speaks some english.

As for the dirt and the stink, I didn't encounter that either! I found it to be an extraordinarily clean city, with garbage cans literally every twenty steps. There was a lot of dog poop on the ground, but apparently that's different. ;) It wasn't stinky when I went, but it wasn't that warm either.

The homeless are very populous, and very sad too. I was shocked that most of them were stinking drunk and either fairly aggressive or sleeping. very different from our homeless in Canada. People pee everywhere and occassionally, you'll want to think twice about sitting on the bridges if you catch a whiff. The homeless just pull up a cardboard mat and sleep wherever, so it might be best to move on for another view elsewhere.

The subway system is amazing, taxi drivers are helpful and with Eyewitness, I never once needed to ask for directions.

yks 6nnetu hing
08-18-2008, 08:51 AM
Sacre Coeur on the Montmartre and the Latin quarter I think have the most character. Paris isn't really a soulless imperialist monument like London but sometimes it does come close.

Chestnuts roasted and sold on the street. Yum! And a squeeze-toy made of flour and a balloon, also sold on the street. Fun!

The Champs-Elysee and the Opera Theatre.

Versaille I found rather over-pompous and not nearly as splendid as i had hoped, so I guess actually not over-pompous enough. But then, I guess i've been spoiled with the Winter Palace of St. Petersburg so close ;)

Also, when you go to the Louvre, decide in advance which part (antiquities, classical or modern) you want to really see and do that one first. That way, whatever else you have energy for will just be a bonus.

also, yes, you can pick the american tourists out in a crowd without them ever opening their mouths. Very strange, that kind of mass dress code.

Brita
08-18-2008, 09:16 AM
Oh no- I never meant to say speaking French is a necessity- I just mean they seem to appreciate it when you try- that's all.

And yes, I think the stink is worse in the summer heat. The homeless peeing wherever is definitely a contributing factor.

Davian93
08-18-2008, 09:33 AM
Oh no- I never meant to say speaking French is a necessity- I just mean they seem to appreciate it when you try- that's all.

And yes, I think the stink is worse in the summer heat. The homeless peeing wherever is definitely a contributing factor.


That's all I meant as well. As a general rule of thumb (and I've visited a ton of foreign places)., if you attempt to speak the local language even for courtesies it goes a long way. It shows you respect their culture and country. Also, don't be afraid to ask how to pronounce things and smile when doing it. If you have to communicate in English with a non-native speaker, speak slowly and clearly...try to enunciate...DO NOT SPEAK LOUDER when they don't understand. That just pisses people off as you are now yelling at them. Don't use American slang because if they do know english it won't be American english and most definitely not our slang...~story time~

Dav and his woman love Thai food, we go to an authentic Thai restaurant at least once a week here in the Green Mountain State. When we first started going a few years ago, we spoke no Thai whatsoever and as all of hte wait staff and chefs are 100% Thai, this made it difficult to make requests. Their English is borderline understandable. However, every time we go we ask how to pronounce certain things and how to say things in Thai even if its simply the Thai word for pepper or salt or soysauce etc. Now we can basically order our entire meals and converse at elementary level Thai with them and they absolutely love us there. We get the best table, extra food, and we often get seated in front of other "whitefolk" (Though soon to be Mrs Dav is half-Mexican-Indian) that eat there. And the chef has many times tried out new dishes on us as we both love spicy Thai food and can handle our curry. We also witness newbies butchering the menu and basically yelling at the waitresses (which really annoys me as they are just doing their jobs). This often leads to one of the people at the table trying to impress his/her date and ordering a really spicy dish and saying "Please make it spicy". The Chef in this situation oftens piles a bit more curry powder than is absolutely necessary on the dish. Put it this way, the food comes in 3 levels of spicyness. Level 1 is "wow, that's pretty spicy but tastes good (average gringo can handle it). Level 2 is "ouch, man I'm sweating but it still tastes so good I must finish it. Level 3 is "Probably shouldnt order it, but you can handle a bit of it if possilbe...get extra rice to mix in or you'll be hurting. They usually give them Level 3 to show them what true spicyness is...its very fun to watch.;)

Gilshalos Sedai
08-18-2008, 09:42 AM
"Authentic" Mexican restaraunts here often pride themselves on hiring "real" Mexicans as their waiters. One of them just opened up a block or so from our house and it's fairly cheap. My Spanish sucks, I keep wanting to say things in French, but Bryan's fairly fluent in conversational Spanish. He shocked the crap out of our server by giving his order in full Spanish, including his request for no lettuce on his taco. I don't know if anything will come of it, but our waiter seemed to pay extra attention to us!

1Powerslave
08-18-2008, 10:46 AM
I agree with the points made regarding the Louvre. It's huge and consumes energy. You might not want to go there at the end of a day of walking. And of course you will see Mona Lisa, but don't base a decision on which wing to concentrate on on her. Though a must see, she was nothing special IMO.

The city planning was a bit different back in the days. There is a huge roundabout with about ten connecting avenues shooting out like the spokes of a wheel from Place de Gaulle (on end of Champs Elysees). It was build thus because, in case of rioting, the ruler could put his cannons there and just shoot down the straight lanes to quell it.

Ishara
08-18-2008, 11:15 AM
Place D'Etoiles-DeGaulle is totally amazing. I have this sweet perspective shot of the street from the Arc de Triomphe down to the Louvre.

Another must see (for me) was the Obelisk. It's over 2500 hundred years old, straight from Luxor. A-MAY-zing.

So yes, we all agree, trying to speak is best. Actually succeeding is unnecessary.

Funny story, whenever anyone asked me how I was doing in French (i.e. Comment ca va?) I'd always, without fail, reply in spanish with a "muy bien." Could not stop.

Gilshalos Sedai
08-18-2008, 11:23 AM
I have the reverse problem, Ishara.

Sarevok
08-18-2008, 12:02 PM
I kinda have to disagree on the "speak French as much as possible", here. Sure you can say boujour, merci and au revoir, but don't start speaking full sentences in French... at least not when you can't understand when they start talking back in French at a normal pace.

I've found it much your usefull to start with "Bonjour, do you speak English?", or maybe "Bonjour, parlez Anglais? (or however you spell that)"
But don't say things like "Bonjour, je veux acheter ca pain. (I'd like to buy that bread)" wich you manage flawlessly after practicing it while standing in line, since the usual response it the person behind the counter telling how much to pay in rapid French... wich is (to me) impossible to understand...

Brita
08-18-2008, 12:11 PM
Haha! So true Sare!

I have a funny story about a Franaphone patient that I was very diligently trying to communicate with. This is when I was "floor nursing" still on the Oncology Unit, and I had to ask him a routine question. I tried my best 'en francais', and he went red as a beet and looked just mortified. He stared down at the floor and wouldn't make eye contact for the rest of the day. I still, to this day, have no idea what I said to him :)

Gilshalos Sedai
08-18-2008, 12:42 PM
What did you TRY to say?

Brita
08-18-2008, 12:51 PM
Well....I was asking if he had a bowel movement that day. Now before you think that he was just embarassed about the specific question, that is a very standard piece of info we need, and he had already been with us for at least a week, so he couldn't have simply been mortified about that, he would have been asked this before.

But given the general topic- argh, I can only imagine what I managed to butcher together. And no, I can't remember what I said 'en francais'. And just to add more complexity, our francophones come from one tiny community up North that have their own distinct dialect, so their particular phrases might be different than anywhere else.

I still cringe when I think about it. It's a funny story, but it is also weird to be embarassed and I don't even know exactly what for.

Davian93
08-18-2008, 01:04 PM
I kinda have to disagree on the "speak French as much as possible", here. Sure you can say boujour, merci and au revoir, but don't start speaking full sentences in French... at least not when you can't understand when they start talking back in French at a normal pace.

I've found it much your usefull to start with "Bonjour, do you speak English?", or maybe "Bonjour, parlez Anglais? (or however you spell that)"
But don't say things like "Bonjour, je veux acheter ca pain. (I'd like to buy that bread)" wich you manage flawlessly after practicing it while standing in line, since the usual response it the person behind the counter telling how much to pay in rapid French... wich is (to me) impossible to understand...

That's basically all I meant by my comments...unless you're there for a couple months and are tryng to pick up the language. Don't be the classic American. "HELLO, DO YOU HAVE BREAD...HOW MUCH FOR BREAD!?!" "THANK YOU!" etc etc.

Gilshalos Sedai
08-18-2008, 01:08 PM
That's all right, Brita. Bryan (before his Spanish had improved) once asked a woman from Peru to put her face on the conveyor belt. He meant to say luggage... but....

Brita
08-18-2008, 01:12 PM
LOL!

Sei'taer
08-18-2008, 04:26 PM
She needs to eat a sandwich, get something done about her alien looking square face (she's rich, damn, get some work done, honey), Quit acting like a 'ho, leave the alcohol alone, stop prancing around like she is somebody, when all she did was blow some guy in a video, don't talk (unless someone else tells you what to say), and stay home and watch TV for a while and get out of the spotlight...oh, and get some sun, honey, those bags are coming back under your eyes.

I have more, but I have a headache...

tanaww
08-18-2008, 08:10 PM
Well....I was asking if he had a bowel movement that day. Now before you think that he was just embarassed about the specific question, that is a very standard piece of info we need, and he had already been with us for at least a week, so he couldn't have simply been mortified about that, he would have been asked this before.

But given the general topic- argh, I can only imagine what I managed to butcher together. And no, I can't remember what I said 'en francais'. And just to add more complexity, our francophones come from one tiny community up North that have their own distinct dialect, so their particular phrases might be different than anywhere else.

I still cringe when I think about it. It's a funny story, but it is also weird to be embarassed and I don't even know exactly what for.

You probably insulted his favorite hockey team ;)

Nah, I speak a little German, a little Spanish and a little Russian. Actually speaking them to a native speaker would scare the shit out of me.

SauceyBlueConfetti
08-19-2008, 08:27 PM
And of course you will see Mona Lisa, but don't base a decision on which wing to concentrate on on her. Though a must see, she was nothing special IMO.



as my name is Lisa this is a MUST SEE lolol

Gil, I took French in college but remember VERY little. My husband can speak it passably, but I did grab a phrase book. Mainly I wanted to be able to ask where the rest room is instead of do you have monkey socks for rent or something else equally pathetic.

We will be with a tour group for part of the trip, and staying at a college with American exchange students for part, so I am nervous, but confident enough with my French.

thanks for all the suggestions guys !!

Hopper
08-20-2008, 05:52 AM
Years ago (back in the early 70's) my uncle was working at a school for the deaf. One afternoon he was trying to ask one of the female students if she wanted to go to lunch. Her reaction was to just look at him funny. So he asked her again. To which she replied, "I'm thinking". It was at this point that he realized that the subtleties of American Sign Language had gotten the better of him and he was asking her if she wanted to sleep with him.

Ozymandias
08-20-2008, 06:11 AM
Years ago (back in the early 70's) my uncle was working at a school for the deaf. One afternoon he was trying to ask one of the female students if she wanted to go to lunch. Her reaction was to just look at him funny. So he asked her again. To which she replied, "I'm thinking". It was at this point that he realized that the subtleties of American Sign Language had gotten the better of him and he was asking her if she wanted to sleep with him.

More importantly than the lesson of the story is... did she sleep with him? Or was she "thinking" about telegraphing the police?

Brita
08-20-2008, 08:57 AM
LOL!!!

"I'm thinking"- haha!

1Powerslave
08-21-2008, 04:53 AM
as my name is Lisa this is a MUST SEE lolol:D