Long Trip Report - PARIS...what a dump!

Oct 23rd, 2003, 10:09 AM
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I too love Paris and certainly believe that rippowam has the right to have his own feelings. Everyone's experiences are different from another's. Staying in only certain parts of the city, let's say like New York, will give you a totally different aspect then if you stayed in another. I think only the title of rip's post has caused such negative comments to this newly wed. Let's give him a break, he's read our comments. Maybe he'll return some anniversary after some research.
cigalechanta is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 10:27 AM
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It is OK, darling, that you don't like Paris. There are many cities in Europe that I detest (Luzern, Pisa, Stratford-on-Avon). But, some of your comments are daft. No trees??? Come, on, darling. What is the Bois de Boulogne? Have you been to Neuilly?? It is full of trees. Paris is a BIG city, of course the people are indifferent. I live in Philadelphia and the people here couldn't care less what tourists think. We also have a huge homeless population who think nothing of taking a slash on Logan Circle in front of the posh Four Seasons Hotel. That is life in big city. Do you live in a small town?

Finally, you say that the "signage" in the Louvre is in French. But, mon Dieu, your spouse speaks French. So, what is the problem? She couldn't translate for you????? Besides, darling, MONET in English is MONET, GIOTTO is GIOTTO. You don't have to have an A-level from Harrow to figure it out.

PS What is wrong with seeing working-class Paris? I think you wanted Paris to be like Mayberry, and it is not, thankfully. Have a bloody nice day, sweetie.
ThinGorjus is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 10:48 AM
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Thin- Yes it is readily apparent in your thread that you are a native of Philly. Give me a break.

As I have said, I used to live in NYC and I grew up in the Tri-State area. I know about the rat-race and I also know this. Most humans are polite and are interested in "mirroring" those that they deal with. If I meet someone nice, they should expect the same in return. If I'm in a customer service position, my job is supposed to be just that...customer service.

We met some very nice people in Paris. Most cab drivers, the occasional shop worker, a man at the subway booth that gave us great directions, etc etc.

We also met some jerks; the lady at the information booth at the Eiffel Tower, the entire CDG airport staff, the folks at the musuem pass booth at the Louvre, etc etc.

Unfortunately, the bad vs. the good was at least a 3-1 ratio.

To make this perfectly clear, we went out of our way to ingratiate ourselves to the people that we dealt with in Paris. We never expected them to speak English, we always "minded our manners" and weren't your typical American stereotype with the fanny pack. We gave Paris 4 full days, we wish we could've spent 2 of those days in Annecy or Venice.

Lastly, as far as the working class neighborhood comment is concerned, our point is this...you don't take a bus tour to view marginal neighborhoods, you take it to see tourist sites. Perhaps we were detoured for some reason, but what we saw was the equivalent of parts of The Bronx. Is that "snotty" of me to say? So be it.
rippowam is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 10:48 AM
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Well, I have to admit that this thread certainly put a damper on my anticipation of 3 days in Paris following a Baltic cruise next summer! It's been 25 years since I've been back. We've got reservations at the Madison on Rue St. Germaine, so I think we're ok on accomodation. But really, I don't like the idea of being served second class food because I'm a tourist, or be treated rudely by waiters.

Can anyone recommend some restaurants and bistros where we can enjoy good service?

JM is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:05 AM
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Oh JM, don't let one persons negatives influence your excitement over seeing Paris for yourself!
I too live in NYC and I must say I never saw anything resembling the Bronx in Paris! But then, I do tend to stay within the city limits, going as far as the flea markets..which is not the prettiest neighborhood but no big city has nothing but beautiful neighborhoods!
If one feels that they need to be closer to a tree, there is a lovely park called the Luxembourg Gardens that has a few trees, the Rodin Museum has trees on its grounds, I think they are not covered with scaffolding
I just think some people either go to some places with way too high expectations and nothing will ever live up to them or some people go with the attitude that they want to see what all the fuss is about..sort of a Prove it to me attitude. Nothing will please them.
I have eaten in some lowly cafes in Paris, in some small out of the way places with no name outside, I have never had the terrible food spoken of here. I do not eat red meat,so I can appreciate a good salad or veggies and I have had some of the best vegetables ever, in Paris!
So do take all of this with just a wee grain of salt and go with your eyes open and expect to have a good time, most likely you will not be disappointed.
Scarlett is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:14 AM
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I too was tremendously under-whelmed with Paris in particular and with France in general. One of the reasons I travel is to learn so before leaving I brushed up on my admittedly rudimentary French.

I speak enough French to get by, but that certainly didn?t qualify me to read extensive information such as that posted in many historical sites (the cathedral at Chartres comes to mind.)

The anal-retentive habit that the French have about REFUSING to publish anything bilingually is petty if not downright silly and is a disservice to travelers who are a mainstay to the French economy.

It would seem to me that since the French want constantly to remind the world just how important their culture is, that they would want to spread the word via multi-lingual information.

(I had to laugh that even the emergency exit information on most public transportation was in French only. I guess they feel that if one hasn?t mastered their language that they deserve to die?)
DiAblo is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:44 AM
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We first visited Paris for two weeks at the beginning of October, and our experiences could not have been more different than those asserted by the original poster. Neither of us speaks French, and we were clearly tourists, but almost everyone we met was civil and helpful, with the exception of one rather snippy elderly woman who sounded British to me. We stayed in an apartment, and it was a very positive experience. We managed to eat very well at the restaurants we found, although there must be some secret to getting the check promptly that has eluded me so far. On more than one occasion as I stood semi-lost pondering my book of maps, a person came up and offered assistance. I never saw nor smelled public urination, but I wasn't really looking for it. I was impressed with how skilled and law-abiding the drivers were, with none of the honking, cursing, and sneaking through lights that is too common in the US; the pedestrians, however, lacked those qualities.

I enjoyed the ambiance and food of Paris, but no more than other nice places we have been. I do think that if you are interested in art, architecture, and history, there are few places that can match Paris.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:53 AM
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Ok, I just had to jump in here to put in my two cents worth. I just returned from France - was in Paris for 6 days. (trip report is coming). Maybe because I did not have high expectations regarding the rudeness, the dog poop, etc., and was expecting it, I was very pleasantly surprised. I had great service in restaurants, very helpful people in all service positions, trains, metro, museum booths. I thought the streets were actually very clean (compared to Avignon and Nice) and with one exception - Balzar's - won't go there again, the waiters were great. Some even went out of their way to make me feel comfortable, as I was on my own. Taxi drivers were great, again went out of their way to be nice. I did not see any bathroom activities on the street, but some really great street performers. I was most impressed with the public transportation systems, the train stations were very easy to navigate and while waiting on the platforms for my train, in more than one town, announcements were in both french and english. There was even little composits of the train so you knew where to stand on the platform for the right car. The food was ok. That maybe was the only disappointment, but I did have two great meals in Paris that were outstanding. So.. that's my experience, I loved Paris and will return for a longer visit to see all the things I missed.
Barb is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 12:12 PM
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As my moniker implys, I love Paris and have been every year for the past 10.
I live in San Francisco and travel to other large cities frequently- both in the U.S. and world wide so I am no stranger to the vagrancies of city life.
Just a few observations on my last trip to Paris last June:
After delightful meals, proprietors of two restaurants came out to shake hands when we left and asked us to make sure to return. (Florimond in the 7th and Baracane in the Marais)
Our hotel (The Pantheon) upgraded our room AND lowered the price by 60 euro when I complained that the air-conditioning wasn't working properly.
Our cab driver taking us in from CDG apologized profusly for the long trip-
(we were there during the strikes).
Best of all, in a small neighborhood restaurant we were sitting at the no-smoking table and those around us waited until we finished dinner to light up.
I do not speak conversational French and neither does my husband. After a few words of our tourist French, I find the French almost always willing to speak to us in English.
For those of you re-thinking a trip to Paris- please give it a try.
(Yes, I have seen people pee)
oforparis is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 12:17 PM
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I can only chuckle at those who criticize the Louvre for daring to have signs only in French. Please tell me what major American museum creates signs in any language other than English, hm? I've yet to come across one!
The obvious solution to this language barrier both here abroad is to rent the CD or tape in your native language at the museum! Duh!
HowardR is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 12:17 PM
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No point in trying to persuade.

I love Paris, have visited many times. I have rarely eaten badly or been treated badly. I have noticed beggars in the metro, but I see that in New York and London and Rome as well.

Millions of people love Disneyworld. I decidedly don't. The people who love a place probably differ in many ways from the people who don't. My not going back to a place leaves a little room for someone else.
elaine is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 12:20 PM
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The last couple of weeks I've gotten caught up planning a trip to Paris in the next year or so - maybe sooner than later - great air fare deals in December. rippowam's report certainly makes one pause. I remember all the horror stories we heard about New York City before we visited for the first time. We've been back 4 times since and loved it more each time.
Last year, when I was planning a trip to England or France for our anniversary, we were trying to decide over dinner with friends at a local restaurant. Our friend told us in no uncertain terms that we should go to England instead of France because "Paris is filthy, there is dog poop EVERYWHERE,and French people are rude!" Her diatribe went on for quite awhile. Suddenly a couple that had been sitting at a table nearby got up to leave. The gentleman stopped at our table and said "Excuse me but I overheard your comments about Paris. Have you ever been to Paris or London?" " No", our startled friend replied. However she assured him that her mother's friend from Peoria had recently went on a trip to London and Paris and that London would be a better choice. Well, this gentleman went on to say that he and his wife had been to both over a dozen times and while London has much to offer "Paris is the most magnificent, romantic city I have ever seen." and went on to tell us what he loved about it. I knew right then that we were going to France - and we did last October. (we flew in/out of Paris but spent our time in Provence and loved every minute)
Now, I am caught up in the excitement of planning the Paris trip. With all the awesome advice on this forum and based on our last trip, I can't believe that it won't be anything short of spectacular. However, ripp's comment's are very sobering. Mainly because they seem to be honest and sincere. This isn't someone with an axe to grind or the typical France bashing that pops up regularly. No, this is someone that wanted to have a special trip to remember for a lifetime. And made a reasonable effort to make it so. I don't think this is case of "Oh well, I guess Paris isn't my cup of tea". (Like my wife can't stand Vegas). This is a person that really wanted to have a great time because it was Paris. It didn't work out that way, maybe not through any fault of his own. I do think the apt. goof-up did have a lot to do with it. Maybe it was just a bad set of circumstances.
Anyway, ripp, thanks for your honest report. Points taken, Now - back to planning the Paris trip - really intrigued by Hotel Latour Maubourg.
JoeG is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 12:24 PM
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DiAblo, I wonder where you live... and how many bilingual signs are there in your city... And how ready are you to greet the visitors in their native languages?
FainaAgain is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 12:38 PM
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I agree with posters criticizing Americans who constantly gripe about signs not being in French and English. I suppose someone who speaks Mandarin Chinese or Farsi can easily find signs in his or her language here in the States, right?
It's really not very difficult to figure the signs out, French, German, Spanish or whatever. Invest in a $3 pocket dictionary or Berlitz guide. If not, stick to the British Isles or Amsterdam. Geez.
martytravels is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 01:38 PM
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Rippowam -

I appreciate those like you who aren't afraid to tell it like it is! I was also disappointed in my first (and last) trip to Paris several years ago. It seems to be one of those love it or hate it places.
Melnq8 is online now  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 01:46 PM
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I love Paris, though I understand everyone is different and are certainly entitled to their own opinions. Some people may have bad luck, some have bad attitudes, some have unrealistic expectations that no city could live up to. I've had some bad meals and service in Paris, but I've had them at home, too. Things like beggars and scammers are unfortunate realities in any big city. I am more bothered by beggars at home than I was in Paris. As for public urination, I saw it but found it sort of amusing. The history, beauty, grace and style of Paris far outweighs any petty annoyances that I have to deal with everyday at home anyways
Kay_M is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 01:54 PM
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So when did you graduate from RIP?

I enjoyed your observations on Paris.
mdv is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 02:09 PM
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Glad to hear there will be two less people in front of me in line at various Paris venues in the future. Someone like you would probably be more at home at Las Vegas or Branson, Missouri anyway.

Larry J
LarryJ is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 02:23 PM
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We have not seen anyone urinating in Paris but we have certainly smelled the results. It's enough to make you lose your not-very-good touristy dinner! Perhaps it's time to bring back the pissoirs!
daph is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 02:38 PM
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After having just spent a month in New York City, I am quite familiar with the smell of urine. It is apparent in almost every remote corner of every subway station, any hidden doorway to an apartment building, or at the entrance to nearly any alley or parking lot. I was sitting at a coffee shop one day at the counter looking out the window, when suddenly I saw a man urinating into a trash can in the midst of hundreds of passers by. Knowing how many people root through those trash cans looking for food, it nearly made me sick.

Frankly I smelled very little of it in Paris. But it isn't surprising if it is a problem. They used to have those free pissoirs nearly everywhere and they were always busy. The average Parisian man is not so likely to want to pay to use one of those fancy pay jobs they have now.
Patrick is offline  

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