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Trip Report May 24, 2013. How to avoid lines in Paris, and other observations

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We avoided lines yesterday by taking a combination of RER B and bus 48 to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Lots of school kids on outings, but no lines. We walked from the top of the park to the Canal St Martin via the Hopital St Louis to see a street in the Tenth where we are thinking about renting another time. We continued to walk down the Canal to the east of Republique, where we caught the 96, our favorite bus, to the Gare Montparnesse. No lines, though there were lines at Monoprix when I bought food for dinner.

Today, we took the 88 bus to the end of the line to explore the Cite Universitaire, a place I had wanted to visit for years. About halfway through the walk, it began to get windy, then to sleet, then to pour. We took shelter for a while under an entry, then in an old telephone kiosk. Finally, it settled down to simple rain showers, and we walked to Place de Rungis to catch a 67 bus to lunch all the way over in the First. There were crowds in the Place d'Itallie, along with the wisteria trees, but we weren't among them. There didn't seem to be any lines in the Butte aux Cailles, but this wasn't our destination.

The 67 runs the gantlet from the Hotel de Ville to Rivoli Louvre. Who were all these grim-faced people? We had to get out and hustle down the rue Ste Honore to get to the restaurant before all the tables filled and they ran out of food. Here were the crowds, here were people from every nation and race jammed together in groups to block the sidewalk. Some of them probably had been standing in lines. It was the first place we had been where the forum fear of pickpockets seemed a possibility. We're they all converging on the Palais Royal or on the Louvre or just converging?

After a nice lunch -- rillettes, brandade, tarte aux poires, a pichet of Brouilly, and coffee -- we decided to be real tourists and took the uncrowded number 72 bus to Pont d'Iena, the stop for Trocadero. We admired an older man in a raincoat negotiating the Place de la Concorde on a bicycle, like an older Jacques Tati. At Trocadero, we walked up to the palace, taking pictures of a wisteria allege that gladdened the heart of my gardener wife. We took silly pictures of each other in front of the Eiffel Tower. Plenty of others were doing likewise, but there were no crowds, yet you could see the crowds at the Tower itself, churning away, toing and froing to their buses, checking off another site. No lines for the museums at Trocadero, only modest crowds at the Metro station, and we got seats all the way to Denfert Rochereau. We got soaked for the third or fourth time walking the block from the station to the Monoprix on General Leclerc. I learned there that you can avoid lines at the supermarket if you go at 4 rather than 5!

So the secret of avoiding lines is to go to interesting places where others aren't at -- at off times in the rain! The only crowds were in the major tourist centers, and we were only passing through!

Other issues: the change shortage continues. They love me in the bakery because I always have my 90 cents in correct change, and I have counted it out in advance. I learned the first day when they had no 5 or 10 cent coins and charged me a full euro! Besides, carrying around all those one and two euro coins is enough of a burden without all that minor coinage. I hope the US sticks with paper

The buses and Metro are much less crowded than I remember them, but then we aren't riding the No. 1 line. Is it the economy? Fewer tourists? Any suggestions?

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