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Extended Stay in Paris: Dream Come True or Potential Nightmare?

Extended Stay in Paris: Dream Come True or Potential Nightmare?

Jan 14th, 2004, 05:03 AM
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Extended Stay in Paris: Dream Come True or Potential Nightmare?

The Parisians, especially the waiters and shop clerks, might be horrified to hear this, but me and the "little wife" are actually beginning to take action on a long held dream.

I know many of you are thinking that this idea is ripe for a disaster, so that's why I need your sage advice and experienced recommendations. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

TARGET DATE: Sep or Oct 2004.

GOALS: Take time to really see, feel & hear a great city during its many moods. Experience daily life at markets, cafes, supermarkets, and parks. Do city walks and in-depth exploration of museums, churches, and monuments. Find "Hidden Gems", take many daytrips. Host family and friends on short visits. Learn a little of the language and a lot of customs and practices. Take tons of pictures and write a travel journal. Come back to the USA wiser and eager for another extended stay in Europe.

ASSUMPTIONS: 30 days in Paris in an apartment with roughly a third of our meals taken at cafes/restaurants. Use public transportation. Apartment costs: 2500E for one bedroom apartment outside central Paris? Language skills need to be acquired prior to leaving USA.

REQUESTED PLANNING HELP: trip planning tools (websites & books) potential location of apartment, trustworthy rental agencies, estimated daily living costs, key customs and suggestions on ways to spend the time wisely. I'd love to hear from folks who have done this or are thinking of something similar. How did you do it or how are you planning to do it? And how much is this crazy dream going to cost?

MOTIVATIONAL THOUGHTS: You can't take it with you, you only go around once, seize each precious day, pass on with no regrets over things not done!

Jan 14th, 2004, 05:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 331
Mon cher Degas:

You and the little wife in Paris for an entire month? Aren't Franco-American relations already strained enough? Sheesh!!

Okay, I admit it; the above was prompted by pure jealousy. I'll bribe you to smuggle me along in your luggage, pleeease.
Robdaddy is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 05:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,617
Ripe for disaster? Why so?
I see it as ripe for a dream come true
and, it's a dream I have myself.
elaine is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 05:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I enjoy reading (and re-reading) these 2 books by Polly Platt:
"French or Foe" and "Savoir Flair".

Very in-depth information and explanations regarding French ways and thought-processes, dealing with bureaucracy, store clerks, etc. Many amusing but illuminating stories to illustrate her points.

She also has a web-site:
http://www.pollyplatt.com/ and provides workshops and consulting services for corporations doing business in France.
Travelnut is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 05:35 AM
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Robdaddy, I wish I could, but no free rides possible with the NASDQ still down! Talk to me when it hits 3000.

elaine, I don't take the subject lightly, even if I could not resist injecting, perhaps lamely, a bit of humor in the headline.

When do you see yourself doing something like this? Have you begun planning? I know you are superb in that travel department.
Jan 14th, 2004, 05:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,148
Hi Degas,

Lucky you.

One suggestion, find a local bistro, cafe, restaurant and become a regular, eg, Tues and Thurs at X Mon & Wed at Y.

That way you become part of the group.

As for language skills, let the locals practice their English on you. It will be to everyone's advantage.

Have a great visit.
ira is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 05:45 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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..I am envious...2 thoughts/suggestions. Have you thought about a "house exchange"? It would cut costs and truly integrate you into a neighborhood. re the language skills..think about alliance francais if you live near one..good reasonable courses in the language as well as a focus on french culture.
travelbunny is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 05:52 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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"Take tons of pictures and write a travel journal."

I dunno, this reminds me of all those times I said I'd get some work done while at the beach.

Okay, I admit I'm the sort of person for whom 'long stay' is a week, not a month. But are you sure you'd get more out of one 4-week stay than four 1-week stays? Or even three 1-week stays?
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:10 AM
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While we spent only a mere two weeks in Paris in 2002, I can pass along these tidbits which might be helpful:
*Knowing we had two weeks, we never fretted if we didn't do everything we planned one day....We always had tomorrow.
*We almost felt like we were not tourists....that our hotel (Grandes Ecoles) was almost like a friend's home.
*It was joyous for my wife and I to wake up most mornings and say to each other, "OK, what do you want to do today?"
*Even in two weeks, we didn't come close to seeing everything we wanted....but it didn't bother one bit (and still doesn't 20 months later). Hell, we had done and seen so much.
HowardR is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:19 AM
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Travelnut - thanks for the info. I'll check it out.

ira, good idea, but what cafe/bar would ever allow a guy like me to be a regular?

travelbunny, I like the idea of a house exchange, but have college kids and freeloading relatives from up north already asking about my place. You know - my loss is thier gain!

Sue, good point. I still have those options are running through my mind. I do know 5 or 6 has been too short in the past. That's why I'd like to hear from folks who have done it before - maybe 30 days is too long and 15 might do the trick.
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'd recommend you opt for a residential neighbourhood rather than a touristy area, so that people don't just lump you in with all the "other tourists". Some areas of Paris are just so packed with tourists that local residents really don't have much time for them.

Take your time when food shopping (don't be tempted to buy everything at Monoprix!). Buy your bread from the same boulangerie every morning. When buying fresh fish, meat or vegetables, ask the fishmonger or butcher for advice on preparing what you purchase.

In bars/cafés, sit or stand at the bar when ordering a drink. People are far more likely to strike up a conversation. Ask waiters for wine recommendations (tell them your budget). Go to small neighbourhood bistros for lunch and have the daily special, whatever it is.

Find out what fairs or tradeshows are on at the exhibition centres.

FWIW, I don't think 30 days is too long at all! Just right to get into a more relaxed, "living there" kind of mood, but not so long you'll get bored.

Oh, one last thing: for added authenticity, borrow a small dog and carry it around.
hanl is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:34 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 705
You WILL enjoy...most people spend much too little time in areas...the only way to get to know it is to spend TIME!!!

I think your FIRST priority is to line up a place to live. Not sure about what you are looking for for your price. I think I would give www.vrbo.com a first try..these are all by owners...you can do some price bargaining for a month stay.

Take a look and come back for more help!! Half the fun is making the plans.

a bientot
gracejoan is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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HowardR, now that?s what I was hoping to hear. But it might be too much of a transition for me to ?go naked? without my prioritized daily schedule and detailed walks. Seriously, an extended stay would allow me to slow down more and smell more roses!

hanl, thanks for the feedback. Finding a good residential neighborhood rather than a touristy area is a key factor.

But, I?m not sure about the poodle. Won?t me wearing black pants, a blue and white horizontally-striped shirt, grey scarf, and black beret make me look like a real Parisian?
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Well, if you don't want the canine accessory, just make sure you have a baguette under one arm and a string of onions round your neck: you'll blend in perfectly.
hanl is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:52 AM
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And ditch the Weejuns....you'll never "fit in" unless you start wearing European shoes...but I'm not convinced that "fitting in" is the key in a sort of total immersion project such as this one, nor do I think you'll get any sense of the "real" city by hanging out in museums...not that you shouldn't do that..I certainly would. Rather, doing mundane activities such as shopping and even more importantly being able to read a local newspaper would be helpful.
A lot of the "mood" of the city will be political, like it or not and if the result fo all of this gives you a widened and more tolerant perspective into the lives of others, it will be time well-spent rather than a disguised journey into pure self-indulgence.
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:52 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 22
Lucky, you Degas!
30 days sounds perfect- you'll really get a flavor of Paris and the French lifestyle! Just make sure you venture out to the flea markets and some of the smaller cities/villages- Versailles, Auvers-sur-Oise, Giverny, Epernay (esp if you like Champagne!)- easy daytrips. Maybe even venture down to Provence (Avignon?) for one weekend to see what the South of France is like- it's different, but such a neat contrast to Paris. I'm fluent in French, can I come along??? ;-)
KH is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:52 AM
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Go for it Degas! Sounds marvelous. I don't think we would pick Paris for a loooong stay, but the idea of 30 days or more in a location we love would indeed be a "dream come true." To relax and go and come as you please (as HowardR suggests) is just next to perfect in my estimation!
Giovanna is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 06:54 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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Degas: You will first need an extended visit to WalMart to stock up (and I think you will need some more trite sayings, too!). Anyway, I think your biggest enemy will be falling into a routine or rut. People talk about "living like a local". Well, most locals (like we at home) have their daily routines, and sometimes locals are the last people to appreciate local amenities. I'd make an extensive checklist of what you want to do/see and maybe even plan out some full days (though you won't have to decide when to follow those itineraries until you are there). And I would consider leaving the city for a weekend to two. Again, this may shake up your routine and reenergize you. Just thoughts.
Bitter is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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Wonderful, Degas! It will be an adventure you and your wife will never forget.
Grasshopper is offline  
Jan 14th, 2004, 07:14 AM
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Thanks everyone for the encouragement and great ideas.

Note to self: lose 100 pounds, grow beard, cnx haircuts until further notice, increase wine intake, develop cover identity as liberal college professor, order european shoes, buy beret..... .

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