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OliveOyl's light goes out in Paris, Madame Californeeea Excellente is born!

OliveOyl's light goes out in Paris, Madame Californeeea Excellente is born!

Jan 5th, 2004, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,427
I just want to comment because I know a lot of people may read this and thus think they are getting ripped off by cabs in Paris because people don't understand the charges. A 11 euro charge on the meter about five minutes after starting (if the hotel expected 5-6 to start) is no indication of a ripoff at all. I would consider that perfectly normal. Also, a 20 euro charge from hotel near the Madeleineto Chez Francis is nothing that would alarm me if this was at night, which is what it sounds like. Taxi fares are a lot higher at night after 7 pm (until 7 am). They go from about 0,60 euro per km to 1 euro per km after 7 pm. That is quite a difference. Now maybe since the hotel talked about complaints, it was off, but there is nothing in those facts that indicates being cheated to me.
Christina is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 01:43 PM
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Christina, I would love for you to be correct, especially for us to have known it at that time, but from the hotel's reaction my feeling was something was amiss. According to them, the maximum, the very outside, we could expect, would be 5-6 on the meter, and that ride should not have cost as much as it did. As best as I can figure with our map, it is 6 km from the hotel to Place de l'Alma, which, had the meter been at zero, would have been a 6 euro ride...somehow 12 more found their way into the final tab! The next morning, under the same circumstances as it was 6:45 AM, it was nothing...cents, and the trip to the airport was 30 something euro. Who knows, the hotel may have been trying to appease us, but there was no reason for that as our discussion was not couched as a complaint, only that we wanted to understand what the norm was because we were taking a cab the next morning, and assured them that this was the only motivation for bringing it up in the first place. (Being in the business we are ultra sensitive to complaining guests and bend over backward perhaps to be anything but). They also might bear some responsibility in this as there was definitely some sort of snafu between which cabs were called for which guests, which necessitated the front desk clerk going out and speaking with each of the drivers. Anyway, we paid and aside from initial irritation, it did not diminish the evening.

And now...the Metro.

What a joy! We were somewhat anxious at the outset of our first excursion but it was needless concern. I had read beforehand so understood the system, which was delightfully simple in reality, plus clean and efficient. I believe our longest wait was about 3 minutes, and it was such a bargain it's wonder that cabs can even co-exist with this transit system! But, that's not the reason for bringing it up. There were delightful surprises here as well. Our first was the car with the accordian player, obviously playing for money, but subtle about it, in fact, really seemed to be having fun with what he was doing and enjoying entertaining us. Next were the musicians we ran into as we walked through various tunnels to get to tracks. Over the period we took the metro we were treated to trumpet solos, French horn, and violins. Now we have lived in two cities where street performers eked out a living playing to the public, but have you ever seen a violin or a French horn? It was delightful...adding another dimension to what, as you know, had already been...a fabulous trip...had you guessed?

For any first time visitors, my Streetwise Paris map was invaluable. The laminated map folds accordian style into a size that fit in my raincoat's pocket and as well as a clear street guide, it pinpointed the location of all metro stops, color coding them as to the lines. On the reverse side of this map is a metro system map showing all the stops, so if you have any trepidation whatsoever, you can plot your entire journey before even setting foot out the hotel door or down the metro stairs.

We had dinner one evening at a cafe whose tables were spaced about 1/4 inch apart, so converstation with the next table is not only easy, but it would seem rude not to at least acknowledge them. A lone American woman was seated at the table adjoining ours and she wanted to talk...whether we did or not. She was lovely though, from Boston and on her 4th trip, all taken by herself. Despite 4 trips, she had never taken the metro and was about to give it a try the next morning. Although I'm sure no one could have eased any niggly worries we had in advance, we did our best to ease hers, then laughed at ourselves giving advice where 6 days before we stood in her shoes.

We were finding our way and it was a snap. One last comment, on that and the value of that map. We were headed home on foot from Chez Francis the night of the Cab Caper, a route we were now fair familiar with as we found ourselves doing it a couple of times in the evening, heading back from our excursions--twice from walks down the Champs Elysees and once from our outting on the Bateau Mouche. We were striding along happily when a father, mother, and 3 teenagers approached us hesitantly and asked, "Parlez-vous anglais"? lol You could have knocked me over with a feather. "Yes, I do"...my "American" being some relief to them obviously. "Oh Thank you. We are trying to find the metro stop here. We've been around and around this intersecton but we just can't find one" and the teenagers all chimed in with that voice that teenagers have and any parent recognizes instantly as "we've had enough and we are about to make everyone's life miserable if this does not end immmediately, if not sooner, and even then we might". We were at Rond Point des Champs Elysees and it is s confusing circle, made even more so by the little forests of Christmas trees at all the corners. Even in the rather dim light from the streetlights however, with Streetwise Paris, we could see they had marked a metro stop at the southwest quadrant of that circle...and we collectively glanced over and voila, there was that distinctive iron grillwork...just a little off center of where they'd obviously already circled umpteen times before.

Don't know if this is the end...it pretty much covers all I wanted to say. I did make a few observations about French demeanor as opposed to American, but given we were only there a week, have no idea if they are valid. On a whole the people we came in contact with seemed to be quieter, generally more low-key than Americans. The first I noticed this was on the flight over, when a light breakfast was served just before landing. The woman across the aisle from us was French, and had asked for tea with her breakfast. She wasn't drinking much and when the flight attendants were near her again, she said, "Excuse me, but is this tea or coffee?" "Tea" the FA said, quite shortly. We were looking over at the time and she looked at us, just shrugged her shoulders and gave a little smile. It wasn't 30 seconds later that that same FA was back again,, "Oh excuse me, I DID give you coffee rather than tea". She just smiled. I can't imagine anyone I know, myself included, just shrugging and giving a little smile, like "it's not worth arguing about". That was the start, but overall that was the same impression I was getting during our trip...not less combative necessarily, just a quieter way about them, more restrained. Comments? Was that off-base? Was it just that I was loving everything French at the moment? lol

Great trip. Cannot wait to get back!
Jan 5th, 2004, 02:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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This was so-o-o good, dear Olive!
cigalechanta is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 03:30 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I saw many instances of that quiet behavior, as the lady on the plane..my feeling was always that some French are like that and some are the arm waving, louder and more boisterous types. Either way, I wish I could shrug my shoulders as well as some French women~

I would never take the subway here , I always take the Tube in London and the Metro in Paris- it is great, isn't it?!

I hope you think of more to talk about-this is so nice to read, I am missing Paris right now..(actually I have been missing Paris for about a year)

Scarlett is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 05:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 609
Thank you, Ms. Olive, for this wonderful report. I'm happy to hear that you and Mr. Oyl had such a great time.

Paris is on my list but I admit that it hasn't been a priority; after reading of your adventures Paris has been kicked up a few notches. I hope you will have more to tell.......
Judi is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 06:15 PM
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You are too kind Mimi...I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Don't let any more time pass Judi--it wasn't a priority of mine either. Cities are fine, but my real love is the countryside, long hikes in picturesque areas. Well, Paris was fabulous--did I say already? And I got my long hikes in too--miles and miles and miles through the city. My husbnad and I suspect there aren't many who would tour with us.

Scarlett that little movement and slight smile spoke volumes. It will take some mirror practice but I can still picture precisely how she did it and perhaps I can "get it" too. Do you think she set the stage for the rest of our experiences perhaps? Compare her to my Joe's Stone Crab tale on the US board and you understand fully (though I know you do already), where I am coming from! lol She was so refreshing!
Jan 6th, 2004, 06:51 AM
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Good report, OO. We ought to take up a collection and send you back. Your input to this site raised the bar.

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