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1st time London/Paris traveler- just back...

My family and I just returned from London/Paris. First let me say that Rick's book was invaluable! I only had it for Paris but as I know he's said MANY times- get the museum pass- it is WELL worth it!
Couple of general comments...
The "sneaker" thing is ridiculous. I saw MANY locals with sneakers on, not so much w/shorts but as someone else pointed out... as soon as you open your mouth they'll know your an American. Be gracious and comfortable.
I was rather paranoid about the whole pick pocket/mugging thing to the point of not wearing my wedding ring. At no point did I ever feel threatened and we rode the tube and metro extensively. Coming from Boston, maybe I'm just generally "street" smart.I never felt it any different than being in a major US city. That is what you must keep in mind. Keep things in your front pocket or use the money belt. Someone was pick pocketed right next to us at the changing of the guards. A NIGHTMARE of pushing tourists, perfect scenario for this kind of thing.
One thing if you are traveling to Versaille- not sure if Rick has mentioned this- but I felt it was impt.
It is under construction and the "pass" window has been changed. The french attendant was obnoxious and completely unhelpful as I tried to figure out where to go. Fortunately, there was an English speaking guide who came to my aide. The pass entrance keeps changing so keep looking and don't let anyone tell you to wait in the general line. AT LEAST 500 people long in the blazing sun!
Can't say enough AGAIN how incredible the guidebook was! In Versaille, they ran out of English maps and it didn't matter because we have Rick's book. Thanks again!

Posted by
11503 posts

Many of those wearing white sneakers are just as likely to be Brits.. of a certain age mind you..that is what is so funny..

As for "first timers" and comfy shoes,, well I think that may not be correct, many first timers have no idea how much more walking and stair climbing they will do in Paris and London, but the experienced visitors well know ,, and pack comfy shoes, which are often , but not always runners.

Posted by
11503 posts

Michelle glad you had fun.. still don't agree about the need for a museum pass though.

I did buy the Forfaits Losirs for Versailles, and that is a great time saver.. one ticket for everything and line skipping ability.

Posted by
286 posts

Glad you hear you had a good time. Great tip about Versailles! Friends were told the same thing about having to stand in the line with everyone else because there was no pass line.

As for the sneaker thing, I think it is the white sneaker look with shorts/capris that is the dead giveaway they are American.

The only 'locals' (if you are referring to Londoners and Parisans) I see wearing sneakers are adolescents and they are usually branded with the latest trend.

Posted by
408 posts

Thanks for your thoughts on your trip. I will be in Paris next April/May and do plan on going to Versaile. I have been to Paris before and have seen most of the museums. I was not planning on buying the pass, do you think it is a mistake? Is it worth buying it for just Versaille?

Posted by
9363 posts

Jenufa, a year or so ago when I was in Ireland with my son, a couple was walking toward us on the sidewalk. They were wearing white sneakers, and I said to my son that you could almost bet they were American. When they passed us and we could hear them talking, though, it turned out that they were British. And they were probably in their late 50's, early 60's. So you never know.

Posted by
360 posts

Rick mentions a Versaille one-day pass that covers everything including travel if you buy it in Paris. It has by-pass privileges as well. Take a look at his book for information.

Posted by
4555 posts

Darla, if you're not planning to visit other museums, then the Paris Museum Pass isn't worth it. Instead, purchase a "forfait loisir" pass from any rail ticket office. It includes metro and RER to Versailles and back, and admission. See for details and prices. It's 21.65 Euro weekday and 25.95 Euro weekends this year...but will likely go up a bit next year. Don't purchase one now though...since they all uniformly expire 1 Nov/08!

Posted by
286 posts

Obviously we are speaking in generalizations when we speak about the white sneaker fashion.

What is most distinct is that for some reason, most but not always, first time European travelers associate a lot of walking with having to buy a new pair of comfortable shoes... usually white sneakers. That is what is so funny.

Posted by
160 posts

Thanks for the replies! Great call about the one day Versaille pass. Definitely don't buy the pass for only one attraction. We had never been to Paris so we did many of the major attractions and at this time of the year it is very crowded. It was well worth it. I looked into the London pass but didn't feel it was worth it. Many of the major attractions were not included.
I would also like to comment on how incredible the mass transit systems were in both cities, especially London. Once you get the general hang of how they work, they are highly effecient and very clean. My kids loved the double decker buses in London and it saved us a ton of money not being on the tours.
I laughed out loud with comment about the comfortable shoes and walking! I actually LOST weight on this vacation- it was great!
One comment about the sneaker thing... My husband and I were actually asked for directions twice in London so I guess we didn't look "too" American-LOL!
(Although I wasn't wearing sneakers- he was :))
I think, as someone else pointed out, it is more of a certain age demographic. I actually made it a game trying to pick out the "Americans"- sometimes it's a DEAD giveaway other times not so much.
Just be pleasant and enjoy the experience!

Posted by
12154 posts

"as soon as you open your mouth they'll know your an American."

I've just had an epiphany. Rather than trying to learn the language have a set of cards printed with basic phrases. Use them and pretend to be mute. LOL!

I'm glad you had a good trip and thanks for some useful information.