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I'm a phony, and a charleton, and everyone will know it when I get to Paris

I'm a phony, and a charleton, and everyone will know it when I get to Paris

Old Apr 3rd, 2010, 06:13 PM
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But these days so many good restaurants have menues in English! The old days when her rule was true are long gone.
I am not much of a food snob, but every little local place I have been has served a nice meal. Maybe I don't know the difference, but even a simple ham sandwich in Paris is so good.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2010, 06:33 PM
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I had put Paris off but went a little over 3 years ago-3 nights at the beginning of our vacation & 2 at the end. Not sure why I was so nervous about it. It was wonderful.
I have a restaurant reccomndation-We stayed at Hotel Brighton-which is by Tullares Garden-walked past Notre Dame. I was looking for an ice cream place that was reccomended on Isle St Louis-we had just crossed the bridge on the island and saw a lovely little place called Cassoulet Maison. Tables outside-wonderful food. A couple of stewardess sat next to us & asked how we found this-just happened on it-they said this was the most resaonable good place they ever ate at & come back every time they are in Paris.
On our end of trip we were at Hotel Mougot-with an Eifel Tower view. I had made reservations at Jules Verne for lunch-over the top wonderful. Plus you get to go up free to the top
Bon Jour!!!
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Old Apr 3rd, 2010, 08:00 PM
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OK, you convinced me to give my buddy who loves Paris a call & then book us for lunch at Jules Verne as well. We'll go there on our 2nd to last day in Paris (will be in Versailles our last day before catching rail to Germany). She had only raves about it as well. It will be a splurge, but sounds lovely!

Will also try that lovely place you found near ND. Do you need reservations?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2010, 09:29 PM
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Loisde, the proof that everything will be fine for you is contained in your apprehension itself. It indicates that you are culturally sensitive and know that things might be different in other countries. If just this one little idea would work its way into to the minds of more first-time travelers, there would be far fewer 'ugly tourists.'
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Old Apr 3rd, 2010, 09:36 PM
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I am sure you will be fine. But I'd encourage you to make it clear to the other women that you are not taking responsibility for their trip. Just as you learned to travel and plan, so can they. Going to Paris is about 0.5 difficulty on a scale of 1-10 when it comes to travel.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2010, 09:49 PM
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Charlatan. Anyhoo. It is vacation in a touristy (depending on what you do) large city. You will be fine. Are you supposed to be an expert on a place you have never been? Half the people posting claim to be experts on places they have been once. Ten years ago.

You are overthinking
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 05:42 AM
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I can recommend a couple of restaurants. We love La Regalade in the 14th Arrondisement and the Constant restaurants in the 7th. My favorite for the past decade on almost annual visits is L'Epi Dupin in the 6th. Every meal there has been delicious and the welcome is special. For a special treat, try Ze Kitchen Gallerie which received its first Michelin star a couple of years ago - wonderful French/Asian fusion cuisine also in the 6th. For an old fashioned somewhat quaint French dinner, try Le Petit Troquet in the 7th.
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 06:36 AM
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You will find the French are super-polite...and they expect you to be, too.

If you start your conversations (including with sales people in shops and restaurant personnel) with "Bon jour Madame/Monsieur", and remember your please and thank you, you will find friendly people nearly everywhere you go.

[Note: The French are so polite that employees in shops spend the first five minutes of the day going through the shop saying bon jour to each other before starting the actual workday.]

The French will be very tolerant of your lack of language skills, provided that you do the greetings and other politenesses, and don't speak loudly in a restaurant...this is considered very rude.

One suggestion -- It might be worthwhile to study the Metro map a little to get an idea of the best ways to get where you want to go from your hotel. Links to two maps can be found here:


A restaurant suggestion - Equinox on Rue de Rosiers in the Marais (3rd arrond.). Inexpensive but good food. Have eaten there more than once on each of our two most recent trips. Three-course for 17 Euro before 8 pm (which is considered early-bird in Paris) -- as of our 2009 visit.

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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 06:44 AM
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I envy you, Loisde -- Paris is so beautiful!

I never understand why people care about not looking (or sounding) like tourists when they travel. When I see people who are obviously tourists in my own city, I don't find them annoying or funny or anything like that. I'm glad they're there and I'll do what I can to help them enjoy themselves. If I see a couple standing on the street looking at a city map, I'll stop and ask if I can help. Why wouldn't I want visitors to feel welcome and appreciated?

Don't worry, you'll do just fine. Just be yourself, be polite, try a bit of French no matter how mangled you think it is. Read the Fodor's article. Take one small phrasebook you can keep in your purse or pocket. Take a small pair of opera glasses -- I never travel without them. Say bonjour, bon soir, merci. You'll be fine.
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 06:51 AM
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Charleton Heston?
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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Please read Polly Platt's two books; on page 31 of "French or Foe" you will find the magical sentence that works every time.
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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You are already on the right track. When I go, as others have noted, I "up" my politeness level. Every shop and restaurant is a 'bonjour' on the way in, and a 'merci au revoir' or 'bonsoir' on the way out. Most if not all restaurants if not all post their menus outside, so if you have a good translation book (several have been recommended here) you can at least get a good idea going in what's on the menu.

I would find a local cafe for breakfast, finding it cheaper than most hotel meals and better. Plan my day from sitting there. Lunch could either be a sandwich and drink, or a sit down meal on an outdoor patio.

(I'll put in a caveat here that I am bilingual and operate in french when I visit).

I can say that I have a hard time remembering having a bad meal in Paris, so if food is one of your fancies, you will be happy. There are some tourist places, with Enlgish menus that I would avoid (around the rue de Harpe area of Left Bank)). In general, I go with a list of restaurants that I have researched here, Chowhound, guide books,etc to at least have a starting point. Once there, walking around, talking to hotle front desk,etc.. I pick up a few hints of other possibilities. Dinner is ~7:30 PM onward. I've never reserved and have not had issues, others here do. As a rule of thumb, and others may disagree, I avoid restaurants on the big tourist tracks (like Champs Elysee, rue de Rivoli).

Dress code, I may be a bit more conservative, in that I do not weat t-shits, baseball caps, "BUM" sweats, running shoes,etc.. This is just me. Not suit and tie either, just casual neat.

I've been in the sitiuation several times of planning group trips, with varying luck. It is hard because usually each person on the trip has different needs or interests. So if you want to go to Musee Orsay, should the others tag along? They want to shop the designer boutiques and you don't...?
There can be a tendancy to clump together, all must travel together or else could get lost, not know language,etc..That's a tough one. I do recommend that you let them be part of the planning. That way each of you has ownership of the trip, it's not all on you. And yes, even with good friends, some time apart is not such a bad idea (I found that I never got any).

I've been 10/11 times, and still have things to see. So don't feel bad if you have to leave things out. It's just another reason to go back. I've found that having two aplnned activites in the day works for me. In the morning I may do a walking tour, and in the afternoon a visit to a museum, for example. Wrapped around this is just wandering and letting serendipity happen. Paris is truly a walking city, and you will do fine if you just get a good map and walk from to and from different locations.

The public transit system is also very good and cheap amd will take you everywhere that you might want to go in Central Paris.

Flexibilty and not feeling that I MUST be somewhere because it is in the plan...that's another key. If it's a sunny day, and there are old guys playing boules in a park by the Champs de Mars, I may sit there and watch for an hour, or perhaps I am in the Square dy Vert Galant watching the Seine, the boats, the views, I may decide to eat my lunch there and veg.

Let us know your dates, interests, etc.. and people here can help plan an itinerary
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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You'll be OK. Don't expect to be speaking French, although it is good to know pleasantries (greet shopkeepers, etc.). Paris is full of tourists from all over the world, many who do not speak the local language.

I'd be more worried about your 1st timem travel companions. Meet in advance of the trip and split things up, so they are involved in some of the planning. Not just looking to you to be their tour guide.

White sneakers are fine for all the walking you'll likely be doing during the day-time.
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 09:39 AM
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Oh Lois, your post gave me quite a laugh. We're in a similar panic about our time in Italy! Tarheels on the road. Have a wonderful time. I butchered the French language and was treated with kindness and courtesy everywhere I went in Paris. You will be, too!!!!
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 09:52 AM
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Whatever you do, do NOT read Polly Platt, who is full of it. Yes, her sentence "Excusez-mois de vous déranger, mais..." is useful, but her blowhard advice about what is and isn't proper in Paris is mostly nonsense. It will just make you more apprehensive.

You'll be just fine. Paris is just a big city like any other, full of people who don't know any more about it and its customs than you do. Your instincts are good, and that's all that counts.
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 09:11 PM
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"In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language." From Mark Twain's "The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress" (1867)

I can usually make myself understood in France, so I'm the one opened-eyed and staring when I get a response. The hubs calls it my DITH state (deer in the headlights). Somehow we get by and so will you.
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Old Apr 5th, 2010, 06:23 AM
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Loisde~ Now you know, since you brought this up... we'll be waiting for a trip report!! Much of what I did in Paris was just wander around. The few times I tried to ask directions from someone on the street, well didn't work out so well (lol) so I carried a city map and did OK with that method for the rest of the trip.
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Old Apr 5th, 2010, 09:32 AM
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Times have changed; the French are more relaxed and forgiving. You make an effort and they will meet you more than half-way.

One cultural difference to be aware of...many shopkeepers do not like you handling the merchanidise (something Americans don't give a second thought to). If you ask permission first and use gestures, they really appreciate it and will either get the item for you for a closer look or wave you on to pick it up.

Handling stuff and putting it down over and over in a shop really upsets some (the lookie-lou syndrome). This applies to fruit and vegetable vendors at the market place, generally; I know it seems odd to not be able to pick your own fruit but c'est comme ça. If that really bothers you go to the Monoprix or other big supermarket where you pick and weigh your own.

Have a wonderful time...it's all in the attitude!
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Old Apr 5th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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My SO says that in his experience, if you say "hello", they'll say "bonjour" and if you say "bonjour", they'll say "hello".
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Old Apr 5th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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You will be fine! You may be wide-eyed due to the beauty of the city, but not wild-eyed. Like most of the other posters, I found that I was treated very well by exchanging the basic pleasantries. With a limited French vocabulary of about a dozen words, politeness and a respectful attitude, I was treated well, and on a couple of occasions, was assumed to be French.

The only bad meal I had was in a tourist area where they try to steer you in if you stop to read a menu. If you encounter that area (and stupid me, it happened in Rome too), that is not where you want to eat.

Have a fabulous time!
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