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Trip Report Paris: 2-Week Stay in the Latin Quarter

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My husband and I (mid-50s) and daughter (mid-20s) traveled from southern California to Newark the night before we would fly to Paris for a 2-week vacation in mid-October. We opted to do this over flying non-stop from LAX as I dreaded the idea of spending more than 7-8 hours on a plane. I also thought that one night in an intermediate time zone might somewhat lessen the effects of jet lag.

We used Priceline to bid on a room in Newark and got the Wyndham Garden Airport Hotel. It was quite an ordeal to navigate through EWR to get there, but we finally boarded our shuttle after a 30 min wait - not bad given that some had been waiting an hour.

The room was okay, an older but decent 3.5 star. The restaurant served up a very good diner-style breakfast, and the tiny but well-stocked convenient store was great for last minute purchases.

Our flight would depart at 9:30pm, and as recommended we got to the airport 3 hours in advance. This allowed us plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely dinner. We chose a restaurant called Riviera, and despite the bad reviews on Yelp, we found our meals to be quite good.

The flight was delayed by 30 mins, but we told ourselves it could be a lot worse. We had booked Economy Plus seats on United, and though the width of the seats are the same as coach, the pitch/leg room makes for a much more comfortable flight.

In the few weeks preceding the trip, I'd tried to gradually adjust my sleep schedule to sync with France time. Once on the plane, I set my watch to Paris time, read for a bit, took some Theanine and Tryptophan supplements, and donned my eyemask and earplugs to get into sleep mode. The duration of the flight was only 6 hrs 45 mins (the pilot said he gained time), and though we didn't get a full night's sleep, we didn't care - we'd arrived in Paris!

(More to follow...)

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    PART 2

    We made our way through Immigration (where the Mademoiselle was so busy chatting, she stamped our passports without even looking up at us 0_0), found baggage claim by following arrows that looked upside down to us (pointing downwards means ahead, not below), and were glad to find an ATM just to the right of baggage claim in Terminal 1. We took out about 100 euros (where is the symbol for euros on my keyboard?) and followed more inverted arrows towards ground transportation. We asked for a taxi that accepted "une carte de credit" (many don't), and were excited to be on our way to the Latin Quartier.

    We rented an apartment on Rue de Bievre in the 5th arrondissement through parisrentalservices.fr. The quiet and charming street is right near the Seine, dates back to the 1200's, and houses Francois Mitterand's old private residence.

    Our check-in wasn't until 1:30pm, but the Monsieur at Soumamm, a "restaurant Berbere" a few doors down, beckoned us in for dejeuner and was kind enough to store our luggage while we lunched on tagines and couscous. The meal was quite good, the atmosphere warm and cozy.

    A bit of background: I am a Canadian now living in the US (the last 6 years), and though I attended French middle school as a child, I have had little opportunity to practice the language here in SoCal. Though my husband proudly tells people his wife is fluent in French, I elbow him and inform them that it is quite a struggle for me to master whole, coherent sentences.

    In preparation for the trip, I brushed up on the language by reading Le Petit Prince (St. Antoine de St. Exupery) side by side with the English translation. As many of my fellow Canadians and Quebecois know, there are vast differences between Canadian and Parisian French words and expressions.

    My husband is English but speaks some French and understands most of it quite well. My daughter very little, but her love for all things French makes her an eager student.

    What I have found to be most challenging is how fast the Parisians speak. We asked our cab driver a few questions, and with his back to me, I could only understand some of what he was saying.

    When it came time to order wine from the Monsieur at Soumamm, I'd forgotten how to decipher the liquid measurements on the menu - 25cl, 75cl ? To add to the confusion, I was taught metric measures in grade school, but had to relearn imperial measures when I moved to the US. Throw in a bit of math dyslexia, some jet lag, and I have my work cut out for me.

    So I did my best to order my daughter and I each one glass of vin rouge. When the Monsieur came to the table with a brand new bottle, I tried to explain that we didn't want the whole bottle but only two glasses. In a fairly animated way, he explained that even if you order a single glass, reputable restaurants will show you the label and uncork a new bottle in your presence to ensure that the customer gets what they ordered. Having had a mere glass brought over to the table numerous times in N. America, I'd forgotten about this French custom, and quite like it!

    We linger over our delicious dejeuner while periodically checking the time to see how close we are to meeting up with "Alice" at the apartment. She calls my husband's cell and says she has arrived. We ask for "l'addition s'il vous plait", pay our bill, gather our luggage, and walk down the street - a little tired but much excited to check into our Paris apartment.

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    Hi... Just one thing my mind locked in on. You withdrew only 100 Euros? My first thought, the more times you withdraw from an ATM, the more times you're going to get dinged for Foreign Transaction Fees by your bank, unless you have an upgraded ATM status of some sort. Something to think about. If you're concerned at carrying too much money, split it up between you, different pockets, or put some in a money belt.

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    Thank you for your words of encouragement. For someone to say they like my writing style is a rare compliment!

    bitsy1- We took out 100 euros for ourselves and 40 for my daughter. My husband used a card that doesn't charge transaction fees.


    PART 3

    Our apartment is lovely and charming. We chose it because it has a separate bedroom on the top floor (daughter will sleep on pull-out sofa on bottom floor), and because it has a kitchen. As much as I love a fresh croissant or brioche from the patisserie, I need a protein breakfast to start my day. So a kitchen provided us the means to make eggs and toast and coffee each morning, something we don't mind doing even on vacation. Also, the washer and dryer meant that we could pack less clothing.

    Alice took us through a tour of the house showing us how to work various things. When she explained how the dual washer/dryer unit worked, she may as well have been telling me how to launch the space shuttle. But if we had any difficulty, there were instructions in the "blinder" - a term she repeatedly assigned to a white binder that contained additional info for the apartment. As a tribute to our dear Alice, we would continue to refer to it as the "blinder" for the remainder of our stay.

    When she left, we unpacked and then set our alarms to get up after an hour and half's nap. It was REALLY hard to wake up went it went off, but we knew we should if we wanted to adjust to Paris time and get a decent sleep that first night.

    note: there is a highly recommended supplement I brought called Jet Lag Reset (or No Jet Lag) which one takes on the first night in the new time zone. It doesn't cure your jet lag as much as it helps you adjust. You can read about it and its numerous good reviews on Amazon. I found that it really helped remove some of the fog the next day.

    We ventured out to find a restaurant for dinner, and ended up at a café/brasserie on Blvd. St. Germain. We sat outside at a café table and ordered light dinner fare. I had one of my fav French salads - salade au chevre chaud. My daughter ordered the cheese plate and I forget what my husband ordered. Blvd St. Germain is busy and the traffic quite noisy but we enjoyed our meal and people watching.

    An old dog kept wandering around our tables - I wasn't sure if it was a stray, but we later found out that it was the owner's dog. It came and went, in and out of the restaurant, and we found it to be quite sweet and unobtrusive.

    We strolled down the street and found a grocery store where we bought eggs, coffee, cream, sugar and orange juice for the morning. We would buy our bread fresh the next morning at the boulangerie "La Parisienne" just around the corner from our apartment.

    We stayed up as long as we could, then fell into a deep sleep as soon as we hit the hay.

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    I'll be interested to hear about your use of the washer/dryer combo. The one we used a while back took about 4 hrs. to complete the cycle and everything came out wrinkled. I think we did something wrong.

    I like the custom of bringing the bottle to the table even though you are only having a glass is such a nice way of doing it. You actually see what you are drinking instead of taking a chance on getting a lesser wine than you have ordered.

    Love all the details. They add so much to your trip report.

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    PART 4

    We'd been wanting to do Paris for some time, but trying circumstances in our family kept getting in the way of our making it happen. At the end of August, my daughter said that if we don't just go ahead and book the trip, we may never go. She had a point - and so we did.

    We'd agreed to do very little in terms of excursions so that our vacation would be one of leisure and refreshment.

    So each day was much the same as the other: we would wake up between 6 and 8 am, gingerly walk down the spiral staircase so as to not awaken our daughter, tiptoe to the kitchen to make our coffee, then sit at the dining room table to read. Our daughter was awake most of those mornings, and would later tell us that the sound of us coming down the stairs in the morning was something she would miss the most.

    I would then start breakfast while my husband went on a quest to find some fresh baked bread. Some mornings it was croissants, others brioches or a baguette. One morning I made "pain perdu" with our day old baguette. I soaked the sliced bread in a milk and egg mixture, pan fried it in hot olive oil, then spread a bit of honey on the slices. Served with sausage on the side, this turned out to be one of our favorite breakfasts.

    note: I read that baguettes with a rounded end are machine made, whereas the ones with a pointed tip are handmade. We would grab one of these whenever we found one.

    After our petit dejeuner, we would shower, get dressed and venture out on daily promenades to various sites or neighborhoods. One day it was Place des Vosges, another Rue de Mouffetard for a bit of shopping, another Pont Alexander III, etc. etc.

    However the one thing we definitely wanted to do was the Louvres. We'd never been because the one day I had planned to go years ago happened to fall on France's Memorial Day, and it was closed.

    The older I get, the less I want to do things that involve crowds or lineups - things synonymous with the Louvre. However, we got our heads around the fact that these would be a necessary evil if we were to go. After some research, I determined that the best time to go would be Wednesday evening, when the Louvre stays open til 9:45pm. When we arrived, we were delighted to see that there was virtually no lineup by the glass pyramids. We also got through security quickly, and were well on our way within no time.

    We located the "vestiaire" to store our coats. It was a bit of challenge for us (and many others) to figure out the security lock, but we discovered that you have to find one that is already unlocked and swings open. Many are empty but no matter what you do, you can't open/unlock them.

    Our wish list was to see a Vermeer, the Mesopotamia exhibit, Napoleon's apartments and the Winged Victory statue. We saw all of the above within 1.5 hours. There is something about the latter that I find quite mesmerizing. And Napoleon's apartments are a must see. My daughter's tongue-in-cheek caption for her pics of it reads, "Minimalist".

    Though we didn't really care about seeing the Mona Lisa, we wanted to get a picture of all the people taking selfies/pictures of it as we'd heard that this frenzy had become an exhibit in and of itself. We were somewhat disappointed to see that relatively few people were there. Ironic that we got an up close and personal viewing of a revered painting we hadn't really cared to see.

    The one thing I regret is not getting there early enough to visit the store at the lower level before it closed. Museum and art gallery stores are some of my favorite places to shop and we'd been told that this was one of the best places to buy souvenirs. Tant pis!

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    I don't know how long the cycle on the washer/dryer took as we always loaded it just before venturing out. However it was complicated to figure out, and yes, the clothes often came out wrinkled and slightly damp.

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    PART 4

    This post is dedicated to dining and eateries.

    As I mentioned earlier, we ate our breakfast "at home" every morning. For lunch, we would either eat at whichever caféa our promenades led us to, or we would have charcuteries, bread, cheese with wine at home.

    We would purchase the above at the open market on Rue Monge or other markets like on Rue Mouffetard. We remember enjoying a cheese in Normandy years ago called Pont L'Evesque, and were delighted to find some at the market down from our street. It has the look and consistency of Camembert, but the flavor is slightly more pungent.

    We ate dinner out every night and would sometimes research a place with good reviews on our tablets before heading out. There were a couple of places we ate at that we wished we had've checked the reviews for. One such place was L'Atlas on Rue de Buci. The atmosphere was decent, the wait staff nice, but the food was mediocre.

    Another was St. Victor (possibly on Rue Monge?) - though we'd had a nice lunch there one afternoon, the steak we'd ordered for dinner on another night was as tough as leather. We couldn't get past two bites. The waiter could see that we'd eaten hardly any of it when he gathered our plates, and to our chagrin, he didn't comment on it.

    My husband ordered a Caesar salad, as we often will for an appetizer in the US, but they always come with a chicken breast, and are sometimes served as an entrée. ("Entrée" in France is an appetizer and "plat" is the main course.)

    In one case, we enjoyed a dinner at a restaurant on L'Ile St. Louis that had bad reviews - Le Chaumiere. Yelp users gave it only 2 stars out of 5, but I thoroughly enjoyed my poulet roti (roast chicken) with haricots (green beans) and pureed carrots. And my daughter loved her canard. My husband's fish dish was just okay.

    Chez Gladines a is reasonably price Sud-Est/Basque brasserie on Blvd. St. Germain. The atmosphere is super casual, but the waiters are friendly, and the dishes copious and good, if a tad rich. My husband and I each ordered a salade chevre chaud avec lardons (thick salty bacon) but we couldn't finish them due to how large the bowl was and how rich and overkill the lardons were. One bowl with 1/4 of the lardons would have sufficed for two people.

    One night when my daughter stayed in, she asked if we could bring her home some chocolate mousse. The patisseries were all closed, and French restaurants, resistant as ever to letting you do take out, refused our requests, but the young waiter at Chez Gladines was kind enough to let us take home a "mi-cuit" (semi-baked) chocolate dessert - similar to a chocolate lava cake. When he had trouble finding a container for us to carry it out in, he actually said that if we were staying close by, he would put the desserts on plates if we would return them the next day! How's that for service?

    There is a non-descript restaurant down towards the Seine on Quai de la Tournelle called L'Oie Qui Fume that we enjoyed dining at. Nothing fancy (red plastic tablecloths), but the service was good and the food decent and well-priced. Our 2-course meals with two glasses of Bordeaux came to 36 euros.

    This was also where I learned how to order steak. When I asked for medium-well, the young waiter somewhat impatiently replied, "Medium-well n'existe pas en France", and told me that the choices were "bleu" (super rare), "saignant" (rare), "a point" (medium), or "bien cuit" (well-done). After finding my steaks too under cooked when asking for bien cuit, I learned to ask for "TRES bien cuit" - which is the French equivalent of med-well. All stages of cooking are slightly rarer than N. American standards.

    My favorite restaurants were Le Procope, Beaurepaire, and Le Petit Chatelet.

    The first is said to be the oldest café in Paris. The décor is fancy, the service impeccable, and the prices are quite reasonable given the ambience and quality of food.

    An interesting thing happened when the serveuse cleared our dishes to make room for dessert. She picked up my bread plate and tossed the bun that was on it onto the table in front of me and walked off with the plate. I found this odd until I got back home and read that one of the many differences between an American and a French person is that the former puts his bread or bun on a plate, whereas the latter puts it on the table.

    Beaurepaire is in the same area as L'Oie Qui Fume and is another not-so-fancy but good eatery that serves up Basque-style fare. When the waiter saw that I couldn't finish my undercooked steak, he said I should have told him and he would've returned it to the kitchen "avec un sourire". The lady next to me ordered l'agneau (lamb) au jus and it looked very good.

    Le Petit Chatelet (French for little cottage) is a sweet, cozy little place right beside Shakespeare and Co. They cook a very large steak over a wood fire that's large enough to serve two. The two profiteroles they serve as dessert are as big as baseballs. As with many French restaurants, the tables are closely crowded together, and the waiter had to pull the entire table out for to get in/get out. We don't mind this though as it lends itself to conversing with other diners - (should we desire to do so.)

    Interesting thing a young Washington D.C. woman seated next to us there said - she was looking forward to trying McDonald's French fries in Paris because the ones in the US have a multitude of ingredients in them, whereas the ones in France have only 10 or so. Leave it the the French to have high standards even for fast food.

    More confusion with my wine order at Chatelet - I asked for 50cl of Cotes du Rhones wine for my daughter and I. The waiter brought us the whole bottle, uncorked it, had me taste it, then after pouring our glasses, he left it on the table. Well we ended up drinking more of the bottle, but were relieved in the end to see that it only cost 25 euros. So much cheaper than buying a whole bottle in the States!

    Our one splurge meal took place the night before we had to leave. My daughter googled something like "Paris restaurants with ambiance" and arrived at choosing a place on the right bank with great reviews called La Fermette Marbeuf. The sumptuous style of Napoleon's apartments at the Louvre influenced her decision to choose this restaurant because of its "belle epoque" style and décor.

    The service was fussy the brushing of bread crumbs off table) and the food was top notch. I'd ordered the scallops which were very good, but the dish my daughter ordered was the best of all - homard bleu en feuilete (lobster in puff pastry). Apparently this is their specialty, and understandably so. Two appetizers, three entrees and wine came to 140 euros for the three of us.

    I almost forgot to mention that we had lunch at Café des Deux Magots. My daughter wanted to sit at one of the outside tables to write and people watch but there were too many smokers. The menu is limited and a bit overpriced, but of course you're paying for the tradition of eating here. I'm glad we checked it out but despite the number of locals that were there, I didn't find it particularly special in any way.

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    Sorry that the above post was a little on the long side.

    DonTopaz - I'm thinking that Berthillion is the ice cream place on L'Ile St. Louis? If so, no we didn't sample any. Even the best of ice creams hold little appeal when the weather is on the chilly side!

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    >>>No Jet Lag<<<

    This stuff is absolute rubbish. Save your money. This is a homeopathic concoction and therefore contains no worthwhile active ingredient. If you look at the picture of the box it comes in you'll see the ingredients with a number and the letter "C" after each. The number is the dilution rate. All have been diluted 30 times. What does this mean?

    "30C means 10 to the 60th power! On average, this would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any patient." Wkipedia. Yes, yes, I know about Wikipedia but you can look this up elsewhere if you like. Or watch a video on Youtube of James Randi swallowing 4 boxes of homeopathic sleeping pills in one go.
    Guess what? He doesn't fall asleep! ;^)

    So can it work? Of course not. Any effect is strictly in one's mind. It's called anecdotal evidence. I'm sure you think this helped you but odds against are billions to one!
    So save your 11.95 next time but do take the other preventive steps you used... that's what beat your 'fog' the next day.

    Sorry to sound so grumpy... enjoying the rest of your report immensely.

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    PART 5

    Shopping:

    Monoprix is the Parisian equivalent of Target, albeit much smaller. There were a number of them on the Left Bank, my favorite being the one on Rue des Rennes near Café de Flore and Deux Magots. It was here that I bought...

    - shampoo, conditioner (apres-shampooing), and bubble bath. I love the ones that are made in Marseille.

    - my husband needed another sweater, so we bought him a wool one for 39.99 euros

    - the rectangular mitt-like facecloths they use in France. We love those and like to give them as gifts.

    - a hair straightener. I brought an older from home thinking that if it got ruined using an adapter/converter it would be of no great loss. Well it happened to work perfectly! However, I did buy a new one that looked good (a Babyliss that cost 29.99 euros), but didn't like it as much as my old one. Also, my daughter mentioned that we had one at home that had a switch on it for duel voltage. This is something I'd never noticed so you may want to check to see if the one you have has that too.

    The numerous tacky little souvenir shops had a few items I liked - a Paris mug, a little makeup bag with pictures of macarons and other patisseries, some playing cards, drink coasters...

    Besides food, the open market on Rue Monge had a nice selection of scarves, from polyester, to wool, to silk. Vendors also sold handbags, gloves, men's wallets, baby clothes, ladies' clothing, jewelry...

    We noticed that many men in Paris wear scarves - either wool or a more lightweight striped kind. When my husband heard my daughter and I praising the look, he later said, "I'd to buy a scarf." We helped him pick out a grey plaid wool one at the market. He wasn't sure of how to wear it so we showed him how others were wearing theirs: fold it end to end, place around back of the neck, pull the loose ends through the looped one, et voila - you've never seen someone strut their new French look more proudly.

    My daughter bought several gifts for her friends from a shop called Blue Lemon. They have very nice jewelry (around 7-20 euros) and handbags in several colors. Even though it has an English name, the mademoiselle informed me that it's a French company.

    She also told me about a place near Rue de Buci that sold soap of every kind and color, cut with a large knife in front of you from large slabs. I will check it out next time as these would also make for nice gifts.

    Franprix is a grocery store chain that can be found throughout Paris. The one on Rue de Mouffetard was quite good, and there was a nice one on the corner of Rue des Anglais and Rue Dormas. I purchased some very tasty breakfast sausage here, as well as some butter, the taste and quality of which was superbe!

    Our closest boulangerie was La Parisienne on Rue Monge. This would be our go to place for bread or dessert indulgences. I never eat baguettes at home - I don't really care for them and don't need the white, refined flour. However the authentic French baguette is one I can barely resist. It is moist and delicious, and also very good toasted with butter and confitures (jam). The croissants are also very good - super moist and flakey.

    We saw "macarons' everywhere, but for whatever reason they just didn't look that appealing to my daughter and I. Perhaps because of the bright colors? We decided that we should at least try one to see what all the fuss is about, but ended up leaving Paris before we could. Et bien - a la prochaine fois!

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    PART 6

    Gypsies, Bands and Thieves

    When we walked home from the right bank Fri or Sat night, we came across a marching band of sorts playing by the Seine. It was comprised of about 25 young people with various instruments - and they were REALLY good. They played for a long time, in the cold, with virtually no breaks. We wanted to stay til the end but we were cold and tired. We did a search on Google to learn more about them but couldn't find any info. I think one of the kids told my husband they were a college band and play for fun every weekend. The best part of the performance for me was the sound of the odd horn that wasn't quite in tune with the rest of the band- it leant a subtle comedic element to the ensemble.

    When walking on a bridge near the Notre Dame on another day, we came across 3 gypsie girls all over a young Asian man. At one point he showed them his empty wallet as proof that someone had taken his money. The girls feigned ignorance and sauntered off. He went after them and poked them with his finger to get their attention. When they ignored him and continued on their way, he walked off despondent and dejected. We felt so bad for him. A bit further down we saw a similar situation unfold with another young Asian man. Both were traveling alone.

    I wanted so badly to park myself in that area to warn unsuspecting victims. In the two cases we witnessed, the young men were polite and innocent, and easily intimidated by these brash young girls.

    As a precaution against such thieves, I bought a Travelon satchel for my husband, and a neck pouch for myself that I wore cross-wise under my poncho or coat.

    My daughter heeded my warnings about thieves by carrying her small crossbody purse under her large coat, and avoided setting her smartphone down on outside café tables. However, after doing some shopping on Rue de Mouffetard, her bag of vinyl records went missing shortly after she settled into a café at Place de la Contrescarpe. After ordering her food, she reached down to get her purse, and immediately saw that the bag was gone.

    In her broken French she told her waiter what had happened. In his broken English he offered his sympathies and made an effort to help her locate the bag in case she misplaced it somewhere nearby.

    She was pretty upset because it had taken her some time to choose these records. The store owner spent considerable time helping her choose unique ones to add to her collection.

    Confused and somewhat resigned, she ordered some lunch.

    While she ate, there were further exchanges between her and the waiter as she continued to express her sadness and disappointment over the loss of these records. She had no doubt that they'd been stolen on the premises because she'd looked through the bag in the café before it went missing.

    Out of the blue, the waiter walked out of the restaurant towards my daughter's table - with her bag of records in hand.

    He said nothing in reaction to her astonishment, but merely smiled and handed it to her.

    No explanation given.

    My daughter said that, in that moment, it was mutually understood that he had something to do with the theft, but that something moved him to have a change of heart. Perhaps seeing her upset? Perhaps because she is pretty? He gave her his phone number shortly afterwards so it's not so much of a stretch to think that it may be the latter.

    The café is called Le Contrescarpe. My daughter said that, unlike the other cafes along the square, it had very few patrons, that the staff was rude, that she had to wait ages to order, and at one point, the manager came out to berate a couple of customers for something.

    My daughter is not entirely sure he acted alone in the theft, but she is certain he was involved somehow. His countenance and smile when he handed her the bag said, "Don't ask."

    Who knew that thievery by wait staff was on the list of things we needed to be wary of while in Paris.

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    Great report!

    Two wonderful sentences among much wonderful reporting:

    "We made our way through Immigration (where the Mademoiselle was so busy chatting, she stamped our passports without even looking up at us."

    This has always been our experience, in contrast to the UK and US. I can see her now!

    Also loved the part about the differences between Canadian and Parisian French. We watched a Québécois police show in Paris once that had been subtitled in standard French so the locals could understand it.

    As I understand it -- and I could be wrong -- Québécois, in comparative isolation, is much closer to 17th and 18th century French as Australian pronunciation is closer to 19th century London pronunciation than today's London.

    Keep it up. You observe and write really well.

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    interesting report,
    entree meaning main course is peculiar to North America.
    Lush is a UK company -love the products.Available in many countries.
    Ackislander -Australian pronunciation being closer to 19C London pronunciation- haven't heard that before . I do know that as an Australian I have never have difficulty being understood anywhere in England whereas I'm not understood always in US.

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    PART 7

    Uber:

    We would use this service periodically, such as when we had dressed up for a late dinner on the right bank, or on late nights when we ventured out too far to walk back. The cars were always clean, many provided candy and bottled water, one even had smartphone chargers, and most of the drivers were professional and courteous.

    At our initiation, we had many nice conversations with the drivers. They were all either immigrants or else children of immigrants raised in France.

    I enjoyed speaking with those for whom French was a second language. I was able to understand most of what they said because they spoke more slowly.

    One young man seemed to enjoy our company so much that he sought ways to maximize the ride.

    It was our second night there and my daughter wanted to see the Eiffel Tower before turning in. The driver pulled up in front of a spot where we could get out to take pictures. He asked, "Voulez-vous que je vous accompagne?" We thought it was kind of him to offer and wondered if this was a service unique to Paris. He seemed nice and we sensed that he just wanted to hang out with us, so we said sure. After taking some pictures, we got back in the car to head to the apartment and he asked if we were in a hurry to get home. We said somewhat because we were still a bit jet-lagged and just wanted to go to bed. When he dropped us off, he gave us his card and said that if we needed another ride, to please contact him. I wasn't sure about how I felt about this, but my gut told me it might be best to just cut ties.

    Another young driver whose family emigrated from southeast Asia told us that he'd just gotten his Uber license 3 months ago. Further into the conversation he said that he had been in medical school for 5 years when he suffered a stroke that damaged his memory. He could no longer continue his studies because it would take him one hour to memorize a page, only to forget it soon afterwards. He had a positive manner about him, and his experience was recounted to us without any trace of self-pity. He said he enjoyed his new job, and that should his memory improve, he would return to school.

    We enjoy using Uber over a taxi service because the cars arrive minutes after paging them, they are clean, the drivers decent and there is no exchange of money or need to figure out a tip - these are built into the app through your credit card.

    Most of the route fares were from 5 to 10 euros. The taxi we took from CDG to our apartment on the day of our arrival cost 56 euros (with 3 euro service charge built in). The Uber ride to the airport on the day of our departure was 50 euros.

    The older monsieur that took us on that last journey was very kind and dignified, and upon parting ways asked us to convey greetings to the next Uber driver we hired in the U.S. :)

    Keep in mind that if you use Uber for transport to the airport, you may need to request a larger car if you have a lot of luggage.

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    "This stuff is absolute rubbish. Save your money. This is a homeopathic concoction and therefore contains no worthwhile active ingredient. If you look at the picture of the box it comes in you'll see the ingredients with a number and the letter "C" after each. The number is the dilution rate. All have been diluted 30 times. What does this mean?

    "30C means 10 to the 60th power! On average, this would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any patient." Wkipedia. Yes, yes, I know about Wikipedia but you can look this up elsewhere if you like. Or watch a video on Youtube of James Randi swallowing 4 boxes of homeopathic sleeping pills in one go.
    Guess what? He doesn't fall asleep! ;^)

    So can it work? Of course not. Any effect is strictly in one's mind. It's called anecdotal evidence. I'm sure you think this helped you but odds against are billions to one!
    So save your 11.95 next time but do take the other preventive steps you used... that's what beat your 'fog' the next day.

    Sorry to sound so grumpy... enjoying the rest of your report immensely."

    All I can say is I took it once and it had a HORRID impact on my body I was literally shaking like a leaf for several hours after I took it. My blood sugar took a NOSE dive. (How low I have no idea, I don't travel with a meter!) So if you have ANY tendency towards hypoglycemia, I would avoid this at all costs. I do have such a tendency that is generally not a problem (as long as I eat somewhat sensibly) and this was AWFUL!

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    Interesting thing a young Washington D.C. woman seated next to us there said - she was looking forward to trying McDonald's French fries in Paris because the ones in the US have a multitude of ingredients in them, whereas the ones in France have only 10 or so. Leave it the the French to have high standards even for fast food. >>

    1. potatoes

    2. oil.

    what on earth are ingredients 3-10? or even worse, 3-10+++?

    a good reason to avoid McDs wherever it is, IMO.

    but I digress. A great report - keep it coming!

    [BTW the waiter who recovered your DD's records might just as easily have taken them back from a colleague as himself have been involved in the theft - what happened is consistent with either interpretation so far as I can see].

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    Spoken like a former barrister, annhig. ;)

    I enjoyed your Uber experiences, boots08, especially the greeting from a Parisian driver to your next driver in the U.S. Very cool.

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    I am enjoying your report. We were there for ten days at the end of September into October. Our apartment was on the corner of Rue de Mouffetard, across from St. Medard's church. Did you see the dancing on Sunday morning?

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    Spoken like a former barrister, annhig>>

    less of the former, if you please, LCB.

    One thing: McDonald's and BK spray sugar on their fries in North America to make them more "golden.">>

    and there I was thinking that it might be because they had been turned that colour by the simple action of being cooked in hot oil. silly me.

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    Ha!!! I was scanning the thread quickly and misread that comment as "Spoken like a former barista, annhig"

    Thought the implication was that annhig was personally familiar with accusations of pilfering.

    Now I see my mistake.

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    CarolA - I hear you. Though I and several others on Amazon had a positive experience with the no jet lag supplements, I had a bad one when I took Gravol. It gave me RLS for several hours of the plane ride. Different things work/don't work for different people.

    annhig - I, too, was surprised to learn that there were more than two ingredients in McD's French fries - 3 with the salt. However remember that documentary (Supersize Me?) that showed how they didn't go bad for several weeks?

    gomiki -No I didn't see any dancing. Peut-etre la prochaine fois! :)

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    PART 8

    Observations on French Culture and People:

    This would be my 4th visit to France and 2nd to Paris. Prior to this last trip, I read several posts on quora.com under the topics "Paris" and "Parisians", and several articles on an interesting (and slightly controversial) website called understandingfrance.org - mainly to learn more things about my favorite destination. In general, the comments were consistent with our own observations...

    For instance, how many will say that Parisians are more formal and reserved than North Americans. That they are less apt to smile at you on the street or start a conversation on public transit. That they are often rude.

    Our experience was that they were kind and friendly when they are shown respect for their ways.

    Paris is a small city. Its population of 2.2 million live in an area of 40 square miles. Streets and walkways are narrow. Stores and dwellings and elevators are small. Café tables miniscule. Throw in a non-stop influx of tourists (more annually than the populace itself), and one can appreciate how this might be a test of Parisian patience.

    It was only during my second week in the city that I noticed the bicycle lane on pedestrian streets. A young Parisian woman had come up behind me on her bike and rang her bell until I turned around to face her. I was met with an annoyed look - justifiably as I had forced her to come to a full stop on a path designated for bikes, and caused her to be separated from her companion. Contrite, I said, "Desole!", and moved to let her by.

    It dawned on me in that moment that I had peripherally heard bike bells around me during other walks but had been too engrossed in my own journey to pay them heed. No doubt I was one of many who would be oblivious to the need to yield and keep to the right.

    In N. America, it is customary to enter a store with no thought of greeting the owner/employee. One can pilfer through the goods and leave without notice. Totally acceptable.

    In Paris, a person establishes a relationship of mutual respect as soon as one enters the shop - by greeting the owner/employee with "Bonjour Madame (or Monsieur)", asking permission to touch something, saying "Merci" and bidding them "Au revoir" upon leaving. Friendly customer service is earned.

    Following this protocol may have been the reason why several shop owners and employees initiated friendly conversation with us. "Where are you from?" "How long will you be here?" "Does it ever get cold in California?"

    One such conversation with a mademoiselle in Blue Lemon led to an interesting exchange about tv programs. As many Parisians do, she would respond to us in English. When we told her she spoke it very well, she said that many French people pick up the language by watching the numerous American tv shows that air in France. Curious, I asked her which ones she watched. She replied "Friends", some other one I forget, and then "How I Met Your Mother". I think she said that they are shown in English with French subtitles. Apparently there are very few French sitcoms in France.

    This reminds me - we turned on the tv in our apartment from time to time to watch CNN International or to listen to French programs so that we could learn French. Well if my husband didn't get hooked on French game shows.

    Along with a French version of American Idol, these dominated prime time programming. One was some French version of Don't Forget the Lyrics, but the one that most captivated him was a quiz show where three contestants had to answer trivia questions and solve math problems. He got completely engrossed and solved many of the math problems correctly himself. (Yet another of his proud Paris moments.)

    Parisian waiters tend to be super aloof. We are just another tourist who might order a pot of tea before their meal rather than after, or once again ask "What's your favorite entrée?" (one sarcastic reply was "Un Big Mac"). On a couple of occasions, we were able to break through the cool exterior.

    Our favorite conversations with them took place at closing time - when the hustle and bustle of waiting on tables slowed to a more subdued pace of changing tablecloths, setting cutlery...

    where banalities led to deeper topics: life in Paris, housing costs, the steady stream of tourists...

    On the latter, the senior waiter told us that China now has "un million millionaires" (our Google search said it was double that), and that many of these come to Paris in large groups to buy "les marques" (name brands). He said they don't care about fine dining. They are content with budget eateries.

    All traces of standoffishness go out the window when he now fervently complains about the cost of living in Paris. His apartment, one street over from ours, was only so many square meters - smaller than the one we had just rented - and would cost over $250,000 to buy! Funny thing about the French - they come off as subdued and reserved, but where there is injustice...well, two words: French Revolution.

    Another thing we noticed is that Parisian men don't seem to stare or leer at women the way some do in N. America (and Marseilles and Naples). Of course this was just our observation, but whether it's wrong or right, it's interesting to know that one of the 12 rules of etiquette in the politeness manual for riding the Paris Metro is "Do not stare for a long time at beautiful women". The manual is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but lends insight into French society.

    Here's a link to a dailymail.uk. article highlighting the manual:

    http://tinyurl.com/kk8s2rb

    Years ago when we were in Paris, a young man boarded our Metro car and gave a rather ardent speech about how his family was homeless and had to live in the Bois de Boulogne...

    When he was done, he walked through the car to collect money from a number of people who were inclined to give a donation. The story may very well have been a lot of "Boulogney", but he could have been Cyrano de Bergerac for how poetic and eloquently the speech had been delivered.

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    annhig - I, too, was surprised to learn that there were more than two ingredients in McD's French fries - 3 with the salt. However remember that documentary (Supersize Me?) that showed how they didn't go bad for several weeks? >>

    I'd forgotten that, Boots, but if I had uncooked chips in my fridge for that long, they'd be walking round by themselves long before a week was up.

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    Nice report BTW and interesting comments - it's good to reflect on how we react to tourists in our own home towns, sometimes. I remember when I worked in London I used to be as irritated as the cyclist you annoyed but where I live now we are very dependant on tourists [and the pace of life is a lot slower] so I make a special effort to assist them when I get the opportunity.

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