This is probably my 20thvisit to Paris. More if you count multiple visits during the same trip.
I know … that’s kind of excessive. And possibly boastful. Maybe even obnoxious. Especially to all of you have never been here. I apologize.
I have learned a few things during my visits to Paris, and figured I’d share a few. Here we go … some thing you don’t read in the normal guidebooks and websites…
Take it easy
You can’t see everything, so don’t even try. You’ll just exhaust yourself.
Pick one, perhaps two things a day to do, walk as much as you can, and then…
Find a quiet spot, a park of some sort to just sit and relax and recover. Our go-to quiet spot is usually Luxembourg Garden. There are comfortable chairs. Today, we walked through the Louvre and out the other end … and sat quietly in chairs in the Tuileries for a while. There are also comfortable chairs here.
Bring a snack.
We recently discovered the Jardin des Plantes. And have done some yoga and taken a nap or two there. No chairs … but there’s grass.
Ou Sont les Toilettes?
Go easy on the water … because toilets are few and far between. Sure, there are plenty of McDonald’s. But you can’t use the bathroom unless you’re a paying customer. I know, isn’t that the point of McDonald’s? Same deal at cafes, although you have a better chance of getting past “security” at a café than at a McDonald’s.
Using the toilet accounts for the half the business at cafes.
In an emergency situation, I walk confidently into a high-class hotel, acting like I’m staying there or am meeting someone (it helps if you look around impatiently and talk into your iPhone), and head to the bathroom. It usually works. The bigger the lobby, the better your chances.
Public urination is a problem in Paris.
I go easy on the water all day, staying barely on the right side of dehydration and passing out. And then, when I get back to the hotel at 4 or 5 p.m., I drink an entire, big bottle of Volvic, confident a toilet is only a few feet away.
The answer to this question (How much does this cost?) is: A lot. No matter what it is.
Be prepared, everything is really expensive here in Paris. It starts with the hotels. They’re crazy expensive, and the rooms are all quite petite. Especially the bathrooms.
Earlier today, we stopped at a café and had a hot chocolate and a Perrier: 11.30 Euros.
So, try and accept that everything is going to be expensive. Otherwise, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
I’ve been trying with moderate success over the years to accept this advice. I’m kinda there. Almost. But come on, 11.30 Euros for two lousy drinks! That’s crazy.
Speaking of hotels, location is the key. We like to be within walking distance of a lot of stuff, and have found that a good spot is around and between or near the Sorbonne and Pantheon. Lots of hotels, hundreds of restaurants. Can walk to Notre Dame, the Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Luxembourg Garden, the Latin Quarter, Musee Cluny and St Sulpice.
The Pantheon is a very underrated attraction.
We also like this area because it’s close to the Luxembourg Gardens RER station. You can get the RER from the airport to this stop for 11 Euros, compared to 40 or 50 Euros for a taxi.
Here’s another café tip…
So, if you’re only stopping in for a drink … sit at a table that doesn’t have a napkin and knife and fork. As we’ve been told by a café server: These are the tables for the people eating lunch. You must sit there, in the front row by the street, with all the smokers.
Speaking of smokers…
Ne Pas Fumer
It seems as if almost everyone smokes. And e-cigs are catching on. Big time.
The other morning, I was waiting at the top of the Luxembourg Garden RER stop for Susan to arrive … and it was amazing how many people, as soon as they got on the escalator up and out of the station … lit up.