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Soaking Up Paris

Ok . . . This is not a "practical" question, and here's the preface: . . . . I'm well aware that being in Paris for 5 days for my 60th birthday is barely enough to give me a taste of the city. I'm working on selecting my hotel (thanks again for all the recommendations) and my 5-day itinerary. I'm a lover of art, music, history, architecture, gardens (yes, the 1st week of March isn't prime garden season)--and while I may have a temptation to pack in all that I can in those 5 days, I also desire to just be there. Here in the upper midwest we've had a winter of suffering through multiple polar blasts . . . and, I'm hoping that perhaps I'll be lucky one afternoon while in Paris and I get a sunny, warm afternoon. (45 degrees & sunny will seem like heaven to me.) I will NOT spend such an afternoon inside a museum, and in fact think I may suspend whatever is on my itinerary and give myself time to relax at a café, sipping some wine, people-watching, and just soak up Paris. SO, you Paris veterans and experts -- if you had such an afternoon, tell me the neighborhood, the street, the block, or the café where you would spend it?

Posted by
16863 posts

I was there last weekend, and though it was overcast, 45 deg F was the temperature, so March should not be a problem. I like the area along the Canal St Martin. There are some interesting shops in the neighborhood to the east side of the canal. The cast iron pedestrian bridges are a prime photo op for lots of people. Featured in the film "Amelie". A stroll on the Promenade Plantee might be in order.

Posted by
8299 posts

I absolutely love the Luxembourg Gardens. I've spent entire days there. I love to walk through them and see the beautiful landscaping, watch the neighborhood guys playing petancque/boules (bocce ball), watching children play in the playground, see the guys playing chess, and most of all just sitting in one of their comfortable reclining chairs people-watching and hearing French spoken. Or, you can easily find an area where there is no one around and have it all to yourself. They have two cafes, my favorite is the one by the bandstand where I've enjoyed many lunches. For me, the Luxembourg Gardens are a slice of heaven.

My favorite cafe in all of Paris is La Flore en l'Ile which is on Ile St. Louis (the little island east of Notre Dame) by the pedestrian bridge behind Notre Dame. Great food, great service and sitting outside (often for hours) people watching and pinching myself that I'm in Paris is also heaven for me.

And thirdly, I really enjoy walking all around Ile St. Louis, Ile de la Cite (where Notre Dame is) and along the river to the Grand Palais and back again along the other side of the river.

If I went to Paris and could only do these three things, I'd be very happy. Enjoy!

Posted by
8412 posts

Ruthie, You are in luck. France is having its warmest winter on record. Go figure. It seems our polar vortex coming down from the Artic is like two arms reaching around the globe, stopping just outside western Europe on both sides.

Posted by
2000 posts

As already mentioned, strolling Luxembourg gardens is wonderful, virtually any time of year. I also love strolling the Tuilleries, from the Louvre to Place de Concorde. there are a few small cafes there where you can sit and take a break. But for a wonderful cafe experience (as a single mature woman) I really enjoyed.
Hotel du Nord bar, on the Canal St. Martin -- wonderful, authentic old-time decor, you really feel you are in romantic, old-time Paris.
Cafe de Flore and Cafe Deux Magots, on Blvd. St. Germain - famous places, pricey and touristy, but still a wonderful experience.
(perfect places to have a glass of champagne.....)
Cafe de la Marie, nice cafe on square out front of St. Sulpice.
Bar du Central, rue St. Dominique (6th arr). Nice decor and food, drinks, low-key place I've enjoyed a few times.
A Petit fer a Cheval, rue Ville du Temple (Marias) very tiny place, only 4 tables out front, but if you can snag one, people
watching can't be beat, also Les Philosophes, their sister cafe/bar down the street is good too.
Le Nemours, Place Colette. another great place to sit outside and people-watch.
La Belle Ferronniere, 53 rue Pierre Charron (off the Champs Elysees) nice bar, upscale people watching
These are my favorites, but there are so many cafes in Paris, you will see many inviting ones, Just pick one and Enjoy!

Posted by
5262 posts

You've had some great suggestions from others, but don't feel like you have to follow them. There are hundreds of cafes all over Paris. My wife and I love to stroll through the city, stopping in a cafe whenever we get tired or need a bathroom, and watching the scene with coffee or wine, depending on the time of day (wine is usually cheaper!). Pick the scene you want to watch and there will be a café or three or five to watch it from. A cheese plate makes a nice lunch too.

Here in the NW we feel a little guilty about this winter, virtually no snow, not even much rain, thinking about our friends in the east and Midwest. But we'll surely pay some karmic price, maybe an earthquake? ;)

Posted by
2246 posts

I'd head for Montmartre. You can do your own walking tour through a charming neighborhood rich in art history, great food and people watching too. You can plan a walk though Paris Walks, this was a highlight of our own five days in Paris last year , see them at

http://www.paris-walks.com
Take a stroll through Pigalle afterwards to revive yourself; it's all very alive and fascinating. Enjoy!

Dave

Posted by
8412 posts

I, too, highly recommend Paris Walks.
However, Dave forgot to mention that Pigalle is heavy on the sex shops.
On Montmartre, the cafes on the top are geared to tourists, but the ones on the streets going up to Montmartre are where the locals go.

Posted by
8293 posts

You needn't worry about the sex shops at all. Just walk on by (or not if they interest you). No one will oblige you to enter them or in any way bother you. They are an intrinsic part of Pigalle.

Posted by
11450 posts

yeah but the area is a bit scummy and its not true they won't bother people.. if you are a female alone perhaps not.. but we were constantly accosted by young ladies and some men trying to hand us flyers for the clubs or trying to entice my mate in.. and I was walking with him .. I can honestly say if you never get to that area of Paris you have missed nothing in my opinion.. I have relatives who live there and would never bother to visit the area.. and guess they don't feel they are missing anything..

Posted by
9110 posts

Speaking of the north end of town:

For decades I always stayed pretty close to the Sorbonne, since that's where I landed as a kid and it was pretty cheap. When wives and family came along, it was generally in the same area, but up a couple of notches. Eventually I aged, grew tired of seeing the same streets, started taking more solo and guy trips - - and branched out to the more unstereotypical parts of the city. Somewhere in there I'd spent a lot of time in northern Africa and the Middle East. For the last ten years or so, unless traveling with adult supervision, Paris has just become a stopover or a place to spend a couple of nights while I showed somebody around. I've nestled in on the north side of the 18e / the south side of Seine-Saint-Denis - - and I like it.

You won't find anybody out of Gigi up there, but they're still French and just as interesting - - and just as helpful to bunglers. The food is a welcome change from the crappy street crepes in center ville and, since the area is quite Muslim, you can get some really good coffee. Probably the average tourist only heads up that way for the flea market on the weekends.

Which brings up my impression of Montmartre and Pigalle.

From where I stay, it's only a short walk up the back (north) side of the Mont and in the cafes and brasseries on that stretch have nothing but locals (regular 'French' ones - - the food tends to be excellent and the prices more reasonable.

I hadn't walked Pigalle for eons, but did a couple of years ago with a buddy who wanted to see the area. It wasn't real late, but it was dark. We had to pick our way among gaping tourists with young kids in tow. The sex shops all have painted-over windows so that you have no idea everwhat's inside. I read something a while back that says the apartments above the stores have now become some of the more expensive residential properties in town and are being bought up by the newly affluent younger people. We saw a few hookers (probably), but just as many regular people running down to the grocery store to get whatever they'd just run out of to fix supper.

Posted by
38 posts

You folks are the greatest, giving me so many good suggestions. I'll be staying kind of on the border of the 6th & 5th, about midway between Notre Dame and Luxembourg gardens -- so Susan, your "three things" that you'd do will fit in perfectly. :) BG, you have some great suggestions and I was considering Hotel du Nord for lodging so I definitely want to consider swinging by there. Montmartre is about 5K from my hotel (and I regularly run 5Ks) so this will be part of my itinerary! Hmmm, Pigalle!?!--I'm thinkin' about it!

Posted by
3463 posts

If you can manage it , before you go , try to have a go at David Lebovitz' charming and hugely entertaining book " The Sweet Life in Paris " . One American expate's experiences in this , arguably , the most beautiful city of all .

Posted by
16863 posts

How about David Sedaris' "Me Talk Pretty One Day"

Posted by
3463 posts

Sam , Thanks , I love David Sedaris' writing , I read him in The New Yorker !! I just added that to my next Amazon order .

Posted by
2246 posts

Okay, so speaking of food in Montmartre, we had a really good lunch at Lepic Assiette, on rue Lepic before the hills to the top. Excellent creperie with a terrific owner. Great food, sidewalk tables and indoor seating.
And Bets, I really did not feel uncomfortable in Pigalle, nor did my wife-we were there late afternoon-I meant that suggestion as a "slice of life" in Paris after taking in lovely art and good food. I do enjoy the contrasts.

Cheers, Dave

Posted by
164 posts

Hi Ruthie, I was in Paris two years ago in mid-April - spent a lovely afternoon at the Place des Voges in the 4th arrondissement. It's a beautiful enclosed park. We took a picnic and a book and enjoyed a sunny afternoon with great people watching as well! I believe there are a few cafes and art galleries around the edges but can't give an informed opinion about them. Another favorite place is Place du Marche Sainte-Catherine, also in the 4th and not far from Place des Voges. We have eaten at Le Marche on that square and quite enjoyed the food and atmosphere! I'm sure there are thousands of lovely squares and cafes in Paris - enjoy the search!

Posted by
38 posts

Just a note . . . as to the suggestion of reading "The Sweet Life in Paris" -- I was able to check it out from my local library and am SO enjoying it this weekend. Entertaining, but some great practical tips too!--I haven't yet finished it but would recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Paris! Thanks for all the recommendations of places were I can just soak up Paris -- I'm compiling a lovely list.

Posted by
154 posts

Go to the Marais area for a half day. Then cross the river to the Latin Quarter around Notre Dame for the evening. Spend another day up at Montmartre Hill and take a day trip to Monet's gardens. Take the hop on and off tour bus the first day for an overview. The Louvre, Rodin, and Orsay for a tour. That's the highlights. Otherwise just enjoy walking around and finding new places.

Posted by
7616 posts

Ruthie -- I'm guessing that now that you have David's book, you've checked out his blog, but if not, be sure to do so ASAP!

Montmartre and Pigalle are fine, and certainly authentic, but if I only had five days (and one of those is arrival day, I assume?), that's not where I'd head for charming. Not that it can't be interesting!!

Also Ruthie, as Bets mentioned, it's been an incredibly mid winter here -- I'm not sure we've ever dropped below freezing in the city. Let's hope that the mild days continue for your visit. But do be prepared for cold rain, just in case. Then it won't bother you if it arrives one day.

Think about the smaller museums, too -- Nissim Camondo or Jacquemart-Andree or the Marmottan. Elaine Sciolino just did an article in the NYT about Paris's lesser-known museums. It can be nice to duck in, get a dose of culture, and dash back out again without spending all day stuck inside. The tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn at the Cluny Museum are newly restored.

Posted by
8412 posts

So glad Kim mentioned the Jacquemart-Andre because in addition to being a fine museum it has a very nice cafe for lunch: it's the mansion's former ballroom with a ceiling by Tiepolo. Salmon salad and a glass of wine in such grand surroundings! BTW, tip to anyone: you don't have to pay for the museum in order to eat in the cafe, and no reservations are taken, so be sure to get seated early.

Posted by
206 posts

To answer your question, I would choose the St. Germaine neighborhood, and Les Deux Magots is famous and has the best location and configuration. For sure.
I have done Paris in 5 days (and less) and you can do plenty. I must say that if you love gardens, I would highly recommend that you go to Giverny (Monet's House and gardens). They are breathtaking. We left Paris on a train at 8 am and went to Giverny and returned by 1:00 for lunch and a walk on the Champs. Tres magnifique!!!!

Posted by
4 posts

Just want to second (or third?) what others have been saying... Luxembourg Gardens is the best place in Paris to soak up the sun, to get a taste of nature as well as to people-watch! The area in front of the Notre Dame and the pedestrian bridge next to it are also great places to be outdoors and people-watch. I personally like going up to the Gare du Nord area to sample some of the new immigrant cuisine such as Sri Lankan food. I live in Chicago (and completely empathize with you, Ruthie, re: the horribly cold Arctic weather the Midwest has been having), and we too are a city of neighborhoods. I always feel that tourists who visit us and never stray off the well-beaten tourist paths downtown are missing out on the real essence of a diverse city like ours. On my first visit to Paris, I stuck to the center of the city but on my second, I made sure I strayed far and wide as I might if I were living there, and I loved it!

Posted by
38 posts

Julie, thanks for your neighborhood and café recommendations--wonderful. I'd love to visit Giverny, as I've taken in Monet exhibits in Minneapolis and Chicago . . . but, the house/gardens in Giverny open APRIL 1 and I'll be there the first of March. :( Will have to save this for another visit. I know that the timing of my visit won't allow for much color, but I should be missing some of the springtime-in-Paris crowds. Mona, I love that my hotel is a 5-minute walk from Luxembourg gardens . . . again, I know there won't be the color, but I still expect to enjoy the surroundings. I'll be in Paris for my 60th birthday, and hey--that's when it is! Just want to add that it was -16 when I did chores this morning, with a high temp today of 2 degrees above zero. It's about 50 degrees warmer in Paris at the moment, so I think I can stand it!

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Ruthie-it is very fortuitous that I saw your question and read the wonderful responses. I too am going to Paris the first week in March and I am about your age. I am staying near La Gare de L'Est and will certainly check out Canal St Martin for strolling and eating. As a history major in college I favor checking out the museums. I will sure to purchase the Museum Pass as suggested by Rick Steve's. The highlight of my trip will be my day in Versailles.
I have traveled alone in the United Kingdom with no problems. I was wondering about communicating with the Parisians. I have my high school French and I can read French better than speaking it. I am also interested in any tips for using the Metro.

Posted by
1 posts

Traveling in Paris without speaking French is not difficult, many people speak English. Be sure to learn the polite greetings and use your manners! I have never had a problem when I was polite and tried to use some French words...I learned Hello, goodbye, how to order coffee, where is the bathroom, basic numbers and thank you.
When using the Metro, buy a Carnet of tickets. You get 10 tickets at a better price. Study the Metro map and remember the trains are marked by the "end of the line" destination. Be brave and ask questions and you can't go wrong. Have a fabulous Parisian experience. It is my most favorite place too. I am going in April to celebrate my 70th birthday!!!

Posted by
11450 posts

janetkelly.. one tip I have for using metro is within reason I like to plan my routes ahead so I am not stumbling along the long passageways looking for maps and looking like a prime pickpocketing target.

The night before.. or at lunch for an afternoon activity .. I just look at metro map,, and jot down the main things ie : the main stop, the direction ( that is the important one.. you either are going one way or the other.. know the name of the LAST stop on a line to know the "direction") and the transfer points. I can jot that on a slip of paper like a post it note and just glance at it as I travel to keep me on base and not wandering around with that look in my eye ( the where the heck am i look and where the heck am I going. lol )

Posted by
12 posts

Go to the Marche des Enfants Rouge market in the Marais. Wonderful "market" restaurants and it's in a lovely "north" Marais neighborhood near a beautiful park. It's a covered but open-air market. We had a fabulous lunch there after a lovely walk through the Marais, our favorite Paris neighborhood. The Bastille market is also fun, Thursdays and Sundays.

Posted by
12 posts

Go to the Marche des Enfants Rouge market in the Marais. Wonderful "market" restaurants and it's in a lovely "north" Marais neighborhood near a beautiful park. It's a covered but open-air market. We had a fabulous lunch there after a lovely walk through the Marais, our favorite Paris neighborhood. The Bastille market is also fun, Thursdays and Sundays.

Posted by
38 posts

Hi!--I've been "away" for a few days and just checked in and see a few more thoughtful replies and tips -- thank-you so much for your contributions! I'm less than two weeks away from departure--can hardly believe it. Regarding language -- I've been reviewing my French and I'm actually pretty surprised/pleased at what I remember from my three years of study (2 high school + 1 college) many years ago. Got a set of 10 Pimsleur CDs from the library, breezed through those, plus some other CDs (but far preferred the Pimsleur). Think I'll feel fairly comfortable beyond greetings, basic conversations, questions, responses, etc. I have NO problem being laughed at a bit -- perfectly willing to attempt to carefully speaking and understanding, and in my experience, people who are both trying will muddle through. Over the years I learned enough Japanese to get around Japan on two separate trips just fine (shopping, trains, staying with families); Spanish (Latin American) both in Mexico and here in the Midwest working with many immigrants; even a little Danish for travels there and relatives visiting here. And I know far more French than any of those other languages. I am plotting my 5 days, trying to prioritize, while continuing to resist the urge to overschedule. Do have another question that I'm going to post separately . . . .

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you for posting this, Ruthie! I'll be in Paris in mid-October and will use many of the suggestions people have offered here. I'll be joining one or Rick Steves' tours three days after I arrive, so I'll have a few days on my own to explore. Not to hijack Ruthie's post, but does anyone have recommendations particular to October? I've read it is cooler and rainier. I'm not really concerned about that, as I'm an art history/history person and plan to spend a good deal of time in the museums. But I also do love just strolling cities and gardens. But I recognize October may not be the best time for that.

Ruthie, please check back in upon your return! I can't wait to hear about your experiences in Paris!!

Posted by
4 posts

Enjoy your trip, Ruthie! Since my earlier post, I found out that a year from now I will actually be living in Paris for 5 months (thanks to my husband's work). I can hardly believe my luck!!! Your Pimsleur recommendation is much appreciated... I need to spend this fall brushing up on my barely-existent French. Language actually isn't as much of an issue there now as it was years ago. In 1990, I transited through Paris for 30 hours and was so traumatized by the experience and felt so unwelcome (mostly owing to my lack of French which I didn't think it was necessary for a 30-hour visit) that I swore I wouldn't go back. But I was so, so pleasantly surprised when I finally went back in 2009. I of course spent 2-3 months learning French before the visit but I found that most people, especially the younger generation, speak English now --with varying degrees of fluency of course. And more importantly, the attitude towards English isn't the same as it was 24 years ago, much to my relief. Even so, I would never, ever start off a conversation in English there or anywhere else in continental Europe for that matter. My one recommendation in terms of communication is that if you have to communicate in English or urgently need information that your French is too poor for, approach someone who looks like they're under 30! I think that they learn it in school and, thanks to TV/music/internet, etc, they have had more exposure to it than older people have had, and they don't mind the opportunity to practice speaking.

Posted by
164 posts

Keith, any time in Paris is a good time for strolling! Just make sure you watch the weather and take the appropriate clothing! I love strolling Paris in the cold, in the rain, pretty much anytime except a torrential downpour! Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
9 posts

You may be lucky, and it will be warm in March. If it is warm, there will be roses in the garden at Musee Rodin...beautiful! The first time we saw them it was March :-) You may want to take a day trip to Giverny. The gardens there are lovely, though that said, when we went last year there weren't many flowers blooming. The year before, the flowers were in full bloom. Same time of year.

Sandy

Posted by
9 posts

Ruthie,
Sorry about my recommendation to see Giverny -- I forgot that it didn't open until 1 April :-( You will see plenty of gardens just in Paris. One I have always wanted to go to is in the Bois de Boulogne. It is the Parc de Bagatelle, and it's supposed to be a beautiful rose garden! Bus 43 or 244 from métro Pont de Neuilly (on Line 1) will take you there, though check on the website www.ratp.fr to make sure what Zone you will be traveling through. You can get fined if you're in Zone 3 or 4, and your transportation pass is only for Zones 1-2, though it looks to me like Pont de Neuilly is in Zone 2, so you should be alright.

http://tinyurl.com/http-www-paris-fr-english-pa

A lesser known, lovely parc -- I rarely see tourists in it -- is Parc Monceau, and it is near the Musee Jacquemart Andre and the Musee Nissim Camando. You can easily stroll to the Parc Monceau from the Arc de Triomphe. Have a wonderful trip!

Sandy

Posted by
8299 posts

Parc de Bagatelle is amazing! Love it. Parc Monceau also very nice. But if you're short on time, Luxembourg Gardens is my #1 favorite.

Posted by
7616 posts

Parc de Bagatelle is amazing, although march will be far too early for roses. But the spring bloomings there -- daffodils, crocuses (croci?), then tulips -- are simply gorgeous. Add to that the peacocks walking around the grounds, and it's delightful. But it is a bit "out of town."

Posted by
751 posts

Mona, regarding brushing up on French. Start with Pimsleur, but as someone that actually went thru the whole 1-3 series from the library, don't spend time going past the 1st volume. Pimsleur is fine for what it does, the phrases really become ingrained and easy to recall, but the rate of progress is slow. Do all of volume 1, and I found it helpful to do each lesson twice before moving on. Then get the Michel Thomas French from the library. It won't teach you a lot of vocabulary, its more focused on explaining how the language works. It would be a little confusing to start with without doing the Pimsleur first, IMHO. Then to expand what you can say & understand get the Assimil French. Its somewhat akin to Pimsleur but at a much faster pace. The instructions that come with the course are frustratingly vague; do a web search and you can find more detailed instructions by people that have used it.

Posted by
335 posts

I won't add any suggestions, since you've had plenty! Just wanted to congratulate you on deciding to suspend your itinerary occasionally and just "be" in Paris. The parks, the cafes, the people, the language, all are worth your time. I too visited Paris for the first time for my 60th birthday and hope you get to come back many more (I'll be there for my 9th visit next Fall). Bon voyage!

Posted by
43 posts

I second someone's post. Place des Vosges at le Marais where Victor Hugo once resided.
Metro-Bastille take Rue Saint Antoine.
Nice relaxing small park. Pick any cafe but check the prices. Or bring a picnic.
How about something unusual la Promenade Plantee 12th Arr.? It's like the Highline in New York City.

Posted by
38 posts

I'm so happy that I posted this question . . . all your replies make the greatest reading. I've copied & pasted it into a word document just to print and take along . . . highlighting your many wonderful suggestions. Which of course I can't do/see all the spots suggested, but love having so many personal recommendations to choose from. Thank-you all!--and, I hope others enjoy. My goal for tomorrow (Sunday) is to pack my small carry-on bag for my 5-days-in-Paris -- 'cause I leave toward the end of the week and won't have time to do it after tomorrow. I'm so excited! Thank-you -- and I will post a full report.

Posted by
8781 posts

Bon Voyage Ruthie! Have a fantastic time!!!

Posted by
7616 posts

Ruthie -- happy packing, and even better traveling!!

Posted by
8299 posts

You're going to have so much fun!! Enjoy!

Posted by
38 posts

So as of tonight I've had 2 days in Paris, 3 days remain. And as I'm walking around the Latin quarter tonight I'm thinking . . . that I just have ONE thing to say to you people . . . why didn't you WARN me? It was wrong of you to not warn me!!--you should have said "Don't go, don't go!!" Because now that I'm here, I'm addicted, and all I can do now is think and plot and scheme of how I'm going to get back to Paris.

Posted by
670 posts

Oh Ruthie, I'm so glad you're having such a great time! Happy Birthday!

Posted by
11450 posts

Oh Ruthie glad you let us know how its going.. and yes.. some of us have concealed a condition from you that we suffer from.
Its an addiction.

Sorry.. now every waking moment will be taken up with thoughts of how to get back for next visit.

Glad you are enjoying yourself!!

Posted by
2246 posts

It's true…last year after our first trip abroad we thought 'well we could get to Europe every two or three years and that would be great'. We'll be back in September and that's after getting about halfway into planning a trip to Vienna-Prague-Budapest for 2015 and thinking, wow we could go back to Paris this year. The thought of going back, knowing what we now know, was too much, Budapest shall wait. But being there, or anywhere, isn't the only thing that is a bit addicting, it's planning and shaping a trip for yourself, and doing stuff like this, talking with others about how to do it better. There are worse things to be addicted to.

Enjoy, and congratulations on doing it.
Dave

Posted by
1958 posts

Ruthie, so wonderful you are having great time, Good for you but don't rub it in please, here on East Coast we are waiting another darn snow storm, about another 10 inches. Have a glass of wine and think of us. Isn't Paris WONDERFUL!!!

Posted by
8299 posts

Welcome to the club Ruthie! SO glad you're loving it!! Happy Birthday!!

Posted by
50 posts

There is no place that I would rather spend a beautiful day in Paris than the gardens of Versallies. I am a huge museum/castle buff, but I actually enjoyed the gardens at Versallies more than the palace. Be sure to grab a panini at the little kiosk by the canal to munch on while walking. They were the best we ever had.

Posted by
335 posts

Welcome to the club Ruthie - the Paris Addicts club! On my first visit for just 3 days in 2005 to celebrate my 60th birthday (like you!) I never thought that I'd be back. Well, 8 trips later, with the 9th trip coming up for 3+ months this coming Fall, it's apparent that I'm really hooked. Everyone asks me why I keep going back to the same place when I could be discovering new places. But there's still so much to discover in Paris, all the behind-the-scenes places, all the nooks and crannies. My birthday wish for you, Ruthie, is that you'll also fall in love with this beautiful city and return many times! Joyeux anniversaire!

Posted by
1501 posts

RE: Speaking French

We were lucky enough to host a French High School student for two summers. His advice to us for visiting Paris is to ALWAYS begin with si vous pla (spelling?) which means PLEASE when asking a questioin. I am sorry for my ignorant spelling, as I do not speak any French, but I did find this advice to be worth millions in how I got treated when in Paris.

I speak passable Italian and Spanish, and my brain cannot hold another language, so this works. If you say "bon jour" when walking into a shop, cafe, bakery, etc., and begin with "please" people will treat you warmly. Also say "thank you" when departing, even if you do not buy anything.

Contrary to what I heard about the French being rude, we found them to be warm, fun, hard working people.

Posted by
2353 posts

Thank you for this thread! I had so much fun just reading it and like others I will copy it into a document and take it with me on my next visit! Sadly that won't be until next year (unless I win the lottery) and even though it will be my 9th time in the city there is always something new to discover!. Happy 60th Ruthie and from what I've read you had that magical time in Paris!

Posted by
38 posts

Once again -- to all of you who made suggestions -- thank-you, thank-you. You'll find my TRIP REPORT over there (yes, I know, it goes on and on and on . . . ) but I hope you'll agree that I did "soak up" Paris, I'm thoroughly addicted. I have saved this thread as a document in my PARIS file and will be using it again -- and I hope others will too.

Posted by
2000 posts

Ruthie,
I'm glad you are addicted to Paris as I am! I just read your trip report. You did some of my favorite things -- except riding a Velib bike! I can't believe you attempted that on your first visit. You are more adventurous than I. Glad to hear you are plotting your return. I'll be there for about the 10th time in May.

Posted by
3 posts

Paris must be the place for celebrating 60th birthdays. I will be there over Easter to celebrate mine. Thanks for all the tips. I only have 4 days before heading to the Loire Valley for a week, but now have some great tips on how to enjoy the 4 days. Too bad we need to sleep at all, there is so much to enjoy.
thank you, everyone
Janet

Posted by
3 posts

I'm so glad you started this thread--can't thank you enough, and I hope that your Paris adventure is memorable. We're heading to Paris for 10 days at the end of March and plan to spend many of these days simply walking around the arrondissements and enjoying the ambiance, while other days will be devoted to seeing some things that we didn't see during our previous visit. It's been our experience that some of our most memorable days in Europe have been days when we've simply just bummed around and immersed ourselves in the local café/bistro/trattoria scene...while we enjoyed a beverage, started a conversation with local people at the next table, and (of course) people watched. Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions to Ruthie: we will be checking out many of these in the next few weeks. Happy Birthday Ruthie!

Posted by
8299 posts

Ruthie, your Trip Report is not too long! It was wonderful!

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1501 posts

Thanks, Ruthie! Happy, Happy 60th and thank you sooo much for your delightful trip report!