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Going to Paris with a man who doesn't get it!

In May we are going to Paris with my husband for 3 days. We are going to visit family and Frankfurt and will be doing this side trip with just the 2 of us. I've been to Paris once when in college and will go again in a few years with my mom and daughters. My husband has not been to Europe. I love absorbing the culture, the museums and famous landmarks, and casual strolls just enjoying the atmosphere. He loves beer and sports. He has always looked at France as very girly. So I'm trying to come up with ideas of things to do that will be more interesting for him. So far, he wants to go up the Eiffel Tower and I planned to visit Notre Dame and do the tower climb and go down below. Any other ideas for more "manly" activities. I know there are things I will wait and do in a few years without him. But trying to find a way for us to enjoy it together. Thanks,
Jennifer

Posted by
21 posts

And by the way, we are staying in the 5th District about a block away from the Seine just across from Notre Dame . . .

Posted by
671 posts

Since you have been to Paris once and plan to go again in the future with your mom and daughters, maybe you should spend only one day visiting the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc. Then, head out of Paris and go to Normandy! Spend two days visiting the D-Day Beaches and related sites (e.g., St. Mere Eglise, American Cemetery, German Cemetery, Pegasus Bridge, the WWII museum at Caen plus the Bayeaux Tapestry, etc.). Mont St. Michel is also awesome and worth a visit. If this itinerary does not interest your husband, then he is not really very manly after all and deserves to spend all 3 days with you shopping in Paris.

Posted by
11450 posts

A city or country is "girly",, er ,, weird. It does show me he has some pretty "interesting" attitudes for a man whos never been abroad. He thinks french men like don't like beer and sports too? Or does he figure they are all traisping about sipping perrier and going to fashion shows. Perhaps we should introduce him to my father,, at 76 he'd beat that nonsense out of him with his bare french hands,, and most likely die in the process( he is 76, lol ) Take him to the Catacombs,, stacks of bones,, underground, tunnels used by both the French Resistance and the Nazis during WWll. Also,, both my teen boys and ex husband( who at 6'4" 200lbs is about as girly as a sledgehammer) loved the Invalids Army Museum,, who can call a War Museum girly? Its actually an interesting museum for you too, I enjoyed it too. I am sorry for your problems.

Posted by
2193 posts

Girly? Hemingway was pretty manly & he liked Paris a lot. Paris is a city with millions of people...there are bars everywhere...he can get his beer fix no problem. And unless something has changed since I was last there, he can drink his bottle of beer walking down the street. He probably likes to eat...no better place than Paris for good food. What about a Paris SG football match...there will be tens of thousands of manly dudes there. How about a bike tour or even a guided walking tour so he can learn something about Paris? That's funny about Pat's dad...I'm reminded of that scene from Ricky Bobby where a "girly" (and French) Sacha Baron Cohen beat the crap out of Ricky. Maybe your husband is thinking about those ballet guys from Cirque du Soleil dancing around in tutus...those guys are Canadian, not French. :)

Posted by
774 posts

An entire country being "girly?" He has some misconceptions to get over! And I don't want to engage in stereotypes that wars and war museums and places where battles were fought are "manly" and what - museums and art (most of which, of course, was created by men)? - are girly? What kind of activities has he enjoyed on past vacations (in the U.S., I assume)? I'm guessing that he's done more on vacations than drink beer and/or participate in sports. Or do you mean the "manly" activity of watching others participate in sports? Anyway, build on those experiences that he's enjoyed on other vacations. If he likes sitting on the beach, maybe sitting at a cafe would be a good alternative, with either a beer or a glass of wine in hand. Or you might be able to find a soccer game or something similar to attend while in Paris. If he's a runner, he could go for an early-morning run - that's something I love to do while I'm in Paris. Also, it helps the rest of my family (who doesn't have the zest for researching destinations like I do) to watch travel videos, either Rick Steves or others. That may give him ideas of things he'd enjoy (without anyone engaging in stereotypes).

Posted by
31318 posts

Jennifer, It seems a bit "strange" to characterize an entire country as "girly". While the French do appreciate culture and the "finer things in life", they aren't "girly" IMHO. I've spoken with a few members of the Gendarmerie on past visits to France, and anyone that labels them as "girly" might end up with a Nightstick "up side the head"! I agree with a previous post about visiting the Invalides Museum as it's huge and covers military history across several eras. He can see everything from chain mail, swords and Halberds to WW-I and WW-II battle implements (all of which are "manly" weapons). The Eiffel Tower is definitely worth a visit. You may want to pre-book your tickets to save time. Depending on how many Museums you want to visit, a Paris Museum Pass may be a good idea (perhaps the two day version). Are you planning to visit the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Musee Rodin or similar sites? Don't try to see all of the Louvre, as it's enormous! If you just want to see the Mona Lisa, it's in the Denon Wing. With only three days, I don't feel you have adequate time to visit Normandy. It could be done with a day trip from Paris, but those typically don't allow much more than a quick glimpse of the sights. There's MORE than enough to keep busy for three days in Paris. As you haven't been to Paris in awhile, be sure you're both wearing Money Belts! You'll likely encounter "scammers" with the Gold Ring, Friendship Bracelet or other scams, so be prepared. Happy travels!

Posted by
1678 posts

The French Open is on in May. I understand it's quite a scene.

Posted by
7854 posts

If my (very) French husband can become a Hoosier, your Hoosier hubby will get it pretty quickly. Be sure he tries the good Belgiuim beer and the French blanche de Bruges beer. And don't miss the gyros shops in the 5th. He'll love the gyros with French fries flowing out of them for 5-6 euros. He'll need to bring his own ketchup packets, though. Good luck.

Posted by
565 posts

I am a woman who loves beer and sports more than most men and I had a fabulous time in Paris. There are many small pubs with hard-to-find beers from Normandy (near Belgium, so the beer is sweeter) and Alsace (near Germany, so the beer is clear and cold). In many of those same pubs, they will have a TV showing Paris-St Germain games. I watched one with the locals that got so rowdy, I swore I was watching the NFL. I second the Invalides and Army Museum suggestion. Lots of cool military artifacts. How about Pere Lachaise? Lots of important people buried there, and many memorials to the brave people who died defending the country. I'm sure you two will have a great time.
Emily

Posted by
3696 posts

If you decide to spend only a short amount of time in Paris I think the idea of Normandy is great. Number one, you won't be seeing someplace you have already been and you won't be trying to convince him to change his mind about his preconceived ideas of Paris and whether it is 'girly'. Plus, you get to experience a new place together. (I think I understand what he means by girly... possibly using the word 'refined' might fit it a bit better... but the perception that it might be different than the more 'earthy' Ireland is probably correct.) I am not trying to classify a whole country as a particular way... but one has to admit there are certain generalities that can help describe the culture of a specific country. France....the food, wine, manners, language, designer clothing, museums, art, literature, perfume, exquisite desserts....maybe a little girly? :))
Makes it perfect for me!

Posted by
30 posts

My husband is not a "city" traveler and was a bit weirded out by my sudden decision to throw Paris into our itinerary. Toss him a guide book and let him peruse it a bit and see what he likes. My husband loves sports so he likes the challenge of climbing to the tower of Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe and the 2nd bit of the Eiffel tower. If you man loves food, well, Paris isn't all frou-frou food and there are plenty of good markets to sample. If he loves history then Versailles and the crypt of Notre Dame would be great. It's all about knowing your husband and what interests him - if all fails, find a soccer match on the telly and leave him in the room! Just kidding, however, if worst comes to worst you can leave him to sample wine at a wine shop and tell him NOT to spit. Again, mostly joking. Paris has a great war museum that should strike at the heart of most testosterone levels! Sorry, getting long-winded here but my husband was hating the idea of going to Rome. We wandered around a bit and he ended up loving it. He loved the street scenes and just checking things out. He also loved being able to read the map and knowing exactly where we were and where to go (men love that sort of thing) and ended up disappointed we only allocated 4 days to the Eternal City. So hopefully if you toss a map in you hubby's hands and wander a bit, he'll "get" the ambiance of Paris.

Posted by
8054 posts

I can't think of anything manly that hasn't already been mentioned but wanted to say....When I was married it took me two years to convince my then-husband to go to Paris. He had absolutely no interest in going to Europe at all, didn't see any reason to. We spent a month in Paris and he completely fell in love with it. He enjoyed every single thing about it - all the tourist things, Versailles, walks all over Paris, the parks, markets, the metro, the museums, the food, the people, everything. I remember being very happily surprised how much he loved it (he was also very manly and into beer and sports) He loved it so much we talked about coming home, selling our house and moving there. We didn't move there, but from then on he couldn't stop telling everyone we knew how wonderful and amazing the city, the country (we also visited Normandy and the Loire) and the people are. So you never know, your husband may end up loving it as well.

Posted by
1804 posts

Musee-erotisme.com in Pigalle. What man is going to complain about being dragged to that museum?! It's actually a very fun museum to check out for an hour and just a few blocks away you can snap a photo in front of the windmill outside Moulin Rouge (girly photo op) and then work your way over to Montmartre where he can climb up the hill to Sacre Couer (manly) while
you ride the comfortable funicular (girly) and then he can exhaust himself further by climbing the dome for a nice view of Paris. Or take him into Deyrolle - a shop full of taxidermied dead animals...manly men would always prefer to look at mounted & stuffed wildlife over some frou frou painting of water lilies!

Posted by
1525 posts

I was never "that guy", but I do remember when I was in my 20's - before foreign travel - I was put off by all the gushing I would hear about France and Paris in particular. It seemed more like sheepism than reality. Fortunately, I continued to grow up, and I went there for a long enough visit to let it sink in (a month). It remains probably my favorite of our five big trips so far. But then again, I don't drink beer (or wine!) or drool over every sport or own any camouflage clothing. On the other hand, I'm not generally in favor of forcing people into doing things. If he really doesn't want to go, he shouldn't. It'll make the trip less enjoyable for you. I don't think couples need to do everything together. Sometimes time apart can be wonderful.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi, As others are suggesting, I suggest also Les Invalides and the Army Museum. My first time there I spent the entire afternoon there, which was on the day I landed at Orly that morning from Calif. Also, I suggest the French Naval Museum (Musee de la Marine). Another sobering visit is Suresnes, ca. 8KM from the center of Paris, (that would be accessible) where you see the American military cemetery from both wars. If you had more than just three full days in Paris, I would recommend seeing Compiegne and places more to the north, such as the Somme and Nord Pas-de-Calais where you can see military cemeteries of the British, Germans, Canadians as well...all very poignant and sobering.

Posted by
1808 posts

Don't dumb down your trip because you think he won't appreciate Paris, let him see for himself. Have him read the introduction to the RS guide to understand the perspective of a country twice ravaged by world wars in the last century. Let him broaden his world view by seeing for himself. Insist that he learn "please" "thank you" and the most important "do you speak English" in French. Those words work magic as opposed to starting a conversation assuming they speak English. Those two simple things can make a huge difference in how you interact with the locals. If he doesn't have a different perspective after your trip, find another man.

Posted by
51 posts

France? Girly? Bugs Bunny's solution would be reaching for the biggest cast iron frying pan .... Many things already said about sights and beer. The French are sports fanatics and they have an excellent rugby (which is not girly in my book) team and a good national rugby league. I just read >>has not been in Europe<<. Sainte-Chapelle, Vaux-le-Vicomte + others sights will not fail to amaze even the most uninitiated. The cure: repeat visits over a longer period. He seems to just have no clue and this can be rectified by exposure to the many wonders France undoubtedly has to offer.

Posted by
12400 posts

"The French...sports fanatics." ? Certainly are...look at the passions generated at a Paris-Marseilles soccer game!

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks to all for the fabulous suggestions. I've started some lists just received my Rick Steve's Paris Pocket guide. And my hope is that some of the initial posters don't take offense in my description my husband's reaction to Paris as fearing it is too "girly". My husband really is not complete Neanderthal! I think I am just drawn to the parts of French culture that are more artsy and more feminine - therefore that has been what my husband has seen by way of me! I know that we will have a great time once he sees there is more to Paris than browsing girly boutiques and looking at 300 year old canvases. I think he will love the crypts below Notre Dame and an early morning run in Paris sounds fabulous. Thanks again!

Posted by
96 posts

I don't think anyone mentioned the Conciergerie. We went to Sainte-Chapelle then went the Conciergerie (it is the prison where Marie Antoinette was held). It was interesting to see and was kind of a fill in at the end of the day. While we seem to hear of Notre Dame more, I thought Sainte Chapelle was just amazing. We didn't really know anything about what we were going to see, so when we got to the top of the stairs and we could see into the Chapel it was WOW. The stained glass is worth a stop and doesn't require a lot of time. You may want to figure out the cost of the attractions that you think you are going to see and check to see if you can save money by purchasing a Paris Museum Pass because it can help shorten the line to get into some sites. We were able to bypass the long line waiting to buy tickets and just walk right in.

Posted by
2949 posts

If he's a beer drinker, keep in mind that a lot of the touristy/fancy cafes around the Latin Quarter and other tourist sites are really expensive. But cheap beer in Paris is a possibility! We stumbled into a bar near our hotel (and not near much else!) in the Montparnasse area called "Le Breguet" which was informal, cheap, and fun. I am sure there are bars like this all over Paris, the trick is getting away from the more touristy stuff to find them. But if you're going to any of the big cemeteries (Montparnasse has the graves of Dreyfuss, Simon De Beauvior and Jean-Paul Sarte, Man Ray, and Serge Gainsbourg - then again your husband probably isn't into Extenstialism or modern art or famous French singers either...) the neighborhoods around them tend to be of this type, easy to find a bar where a small beer won't cost 9 Euro. And as others have said, the catacombs are a crowd-pleaser for sure. Get there early, the lines get long.

Posted by
54 posts

You could spend one of your days doing the Fat Tire Bicycle Tours day-trip to Versailles. DH and I did that last spring and it was a magnificent day. You bike, ride the train, bike, buy picnic supplies, bike, picnic, bike, see Versailles, bike, train, bike back to the bicycle shop. Easy bicycle riding and loads of fun!

Posted by
11450 posts

Jennifer,, just to be clear, ( which you may be ,, but just in case) the catacombs and the crypts are two different places/things.

Posted by
1020 posts

I've never met a man who didn't like Paris, so don't worry about it. He has preconceived notions about places he hasn't visited which will disappear when he's there. How many of us thought the French were supposed to be rude before we experienced how friendly they are?

Posted by
1020 posts

That's funny, James. I suppose I should have said "American" man. We don't have the historic enmity for the French that Germans and some other nationalities have.

Posted by
334 posts

Here was my man's list who didn't get it either; planned by his ex-tour guide brother in law: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Montmarte, Musee Rodin, Napoleons Tomb/Musee de l Armee, PereLachaise Cemetery/Jim Morrison's Grave, Pantheon.

Posted by
1986 posts

drop him off at the Lido with directions on how to get to Pigalle after that. you go off and enjoy yourself. Or threaten him with the opera if he doesnt enjoy the sightseeing

Posted by
334 posts

If you can get him to watch it, Billy Crystal in "Forget Paris", Billy plays a pro basketball referee who goes to Paris.

Posted by
334 posts

Here was my man list who didn't get it either; planned by his ex-tour guide brother in law: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Montmarte, Musee Rodin, Napoleons Tomb/Musee de l Armee, PereLachaise Cemetery/Jim Morrison's Grave, Pantheon.

Posted by
111 posts

The French Open goes from May 27 - June 10, 2012...I like the times I've been to the US Open in the early rounds because you can walk around and check out different matches and see several name players. At the French, it might be the only way to catch the US players! maybe check out some bike tours...a day trip to the D-Day beaches perhaps. The Orsay Museum is pretty interesting and not very "artsy". You don't get overwhelmed like say at the Louvre or the Uffizi- yes different country but still loads of paintings. I was in Paris last week and liked the Rodin Garden- only 1 euro! The Army Museum was ok. Myself, I wouldn't really like just going to a bar to see what sport they were showing unless I was actually interested in the sport. Heck, you can do that anywhere. Batobus boat hop on hop off boat makes a loop from around the Eiffel Tower and down past Notre Dame. Seine River cruise and you get off when you want and get back on again. Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, Les Invalded, Orsay Museum, Rodin Museum and garden, Notre Dame, bike tour, D Day day trip, maybe the Louvre, picnic lunch/early dinner...3 days over go to Germany!

Posted by
21 posts

Love all the responses! I know we watched the Billy Crystal movie when it came out on video. I will have to track it down and watch it. And thanks for the reminder on the Jim Morrison grave - that is one he will love to see.

Posted by
360 posts

Another vote for Les Invalides army museum. I love the place myself.

Posted by
1831 posts

Girly? I'm going! There are things some men just can't get enough of. I'm one.

Posted by
1636 posts

Mine was at least as bad, if not worse. You can only imagine the stereotypes he used to spout. He just made his 4th trip since 2000 last summer. He even prides himself on his minimal French and is trying to learn more. He gets very disappointed when he see others not even trying to use manners. The French love him, baseball cap & all. Check the rugby and soccer schedules and then find a bar showing a game. We've done all the suggestions and he enjoyed them all. He loved the Rodin Museum which is close to Invalides because it was quieter and there were things he recognized, but he loves the hustle of Montmarte as well. Careful, he may want to go with you on your next trip as well!

Posted by
703 posts

Jennifer, I know exactly where you're coming from. My brother in law is a HUGE sports guy, and I once tried to keep up with him on the beer front. I was sick for two days. When it was first proposed that he visit Europe (Italy, in this case), he was definitely against it. "Why visit there when there's so much to see here?" was his constant reply. Nonetheless, he went, and TOTALLY fell in love with it! He has been back 6 times since then, and is quite the Europhile. So, hold out hope and you might be surprised. If not, fortunately for you, you'll be back with Mom and girls soon!
I agree, Invalides in quite "manly". My favorite beers in France are Alsatian, and the Belgians from up north. Have Fun!

Posted by
3581 posts

This year I gave my husband the option of a month in the UK or a month in France. He said he would rather eat than communicate, so France it is. I do most of the talking, but he does know some of the basics and is learning more. These are two things he particularly liked on our first trip to Paris (his first to Europe also) that haven't been mentioned so far: visiting the Toyota showroom on the Champs Elysees (you can get in a formula style race car there and "drive" it), and the rekindling of the flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe (every evening at 18:30). The latter we stumbled on and found the ceremony very moving -- especially the veterens who carried the flags of their units. You can read about it online. The traffic whirling around the Arc completely stops for this daily event. These two things can be hooked together due to their locations. Being a car and racing guy (he has his own Formula Ford and is building a Cobra coupe), he already knew about the car showrooms. Maybe there is something similar that your husband is passionate about that would be fun for him to see in Paris. Although my husband doesn't do it himself, he loves fine woodworking. While I spent time with the Impressionists in the Orsay, he got wowed by the furniture. We met up later on the steps outside.

Posted by
12400 posts

I agree with going to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier...all very sobering and moving, see the list of battles on the walls.

Posted by
571 posts

I second Fred's recommendation of the Musee de la Marine. I always search out naval museums when I travel, and the Paris one is excellent. Friends also once took me to a show at the Lido. While I can't recommend it (either for the show or the cost), I can say there was nothing "girlie" about it except, of course, the nude girls.

Posted by
839 posts

Now I don't want to start fights, but how about going to the Marais and bar hopping? Sure the French produce vast quantities of wine, and it is often the least expensive drink available. But they sell beer too. I bet you can find a sports bar too. wayne iNWI

Posted by
12400 posts

Matt, As for "searching out naval museums...," see the Deutsches Marine Museum in Wilhelmshaven, connect there from Hamburg. If you're in England, take the ferry from Harwich to Cuxhaven (used to be to Hamburg), then the train to Wilhelmshaven.

Posted by
123 posts

You might also want to check out the Cluny, and the Musee de Moyen Age...Middle ages museum, tapestry, really cool -- near the Sorbonne.