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Paris July 14-20 High School Graduation Trip

Paris July 14-20 High School Graduation Trip

Old Jun 20th, 2022, 04:01 PM
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Paris July 14-20 High School Graduation Trip

Hello Fodorites!

We are old parents (late 50s) taking our daughter on her dream high school graduation trip. We are staying in the 6th from July 14-20 at the Hotel Montelambert. Husband and I have been to Paris before (last time over 20 years ago on our honeymoon!) but this is the first trip for our daughter. We'll hit the big sights and museums at her request, she loves design, art, dance, and is a self-proclaimed history nerd. Here are my main questions thus far:

1. Le Fete Nationale Francais: We are arriving on this day by accident due to other obligations. After an overnight flight from SFO arriving mid-morning we will be exhausted but will likely nap and try to rally for dinner. Not sure how much of the festivities we will be able to enjoy but would appreciate tips on how to experience the feel of that day and perhaps get a glimpse of fireworks without being in crushing crowds.

2. Language: While we have a few languages amongst the 3 of us, French is not one of them! I'm trying to find podcast or app that is purely aural to learn travel phrases while on my commute and my daily walks. Any ideas? Babbel, Rosetta Stone and a couple of others I checked out require using your touch screen.

3. Dining: We unfortunately have some dietary & health restrictions, including lactose and shellfish. Would welcome English-friendly restaurant /bistro suggestions near our hotel or major sights (we'll go to L'Orangerie, the Opera, Versaille, D'Orsay) that are on the simple side. We are spoiled by our great Bay Area cuisine where we can be casual. We enjoy multi-cultural to mix it up. My dream is to go on one of the bateaux mouches (sp?) on the Seine at night. Are there any with meals that are good quality?

3. Teenage girl: Non-pricey shopping areas for a teenager? Or a local young tour guide for neighborhoods and cute shops?

Merci beau coup in advance!
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Old Jun 20th, 2022, 06:28 PM
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Re: your #3--- try to time your dinner so as to take a Bateau-Mouche boat ride at 8:30 PM (I think). We did about 5 years ago; arrived at the dock at the foot of the Eiffel Tower at about 8:50. After standing up, getting in line, and walking off the boat, our feet hit the dock and the Tower lit up!!!!!!
Enchanting!! Not to be missed. The display went on for many minutes, enough to get up the embankment, find a place to sit, and enjoy the show.
There's "merely seeing the Eiffel Tower", and then there's "our way as described". I highly recommend you strive for that.

Re: your #2---my two cents is, don't try to pass yourself off as a fluent-in-French American......your accent will give you away. You're only their for 6+ days, so just try to be polite (they're more polite than we Yanks). You'll be well appreciated if you merely say "bonjour, madam" upon entering a store, and the same or "au revoir" upon leaving. Maybe a few more words or phrases, but not a curriculum.

Another tip: check out the Ambassador, translating earbuds made by Waverly Labs. Great translating device, reasonable price.

A tip: with Google Maps, you can print maps of areas of Paris (of course), with highlights special to you. We made maps for the area around our hotel, for example, (by putting in the map's search box "patisserie" so that we'd have a map showing where the nearby such shops were. Could do the same for any store type of interest (bakeries, candy, tobacco, etc). Another map might show what is near or around the corner from a site of interest. Also, learn where the Passages are. They are unique, and interesting, and accessible. I suggest printed maps, because 1)they're handy, and 2)you don't want to be fiddling on your I-phone while IN Paris (and miss the atmosphere, and the people-watching), when you could have done it more efficiently some night earlier while still in CA.
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Old Jun 20th, 2022, 10:33 PM
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Teenagers love to shop in the Les Halles area, starting at the Westfield Forum des Halles shopping mall and spreading through the enitre neighborhood.
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Old Jun 20th, 2022, 11:34 PM
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don't nap, get out in the light, do not sit in a theatre/go to a film, keep moving and stay in the sun, drive your body clock and go to bed after 7pm.
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Old Jun 21st, 2022, 03:15 AM
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For your dietary requirements, it might be an idea to get a written translation into French that you can show if necessary, though I doubt if you'll meet many staff who don't understand some, maybe quite a lot of English. (And just to underline, not opening a conversation with "bonjour" is considered rather abrupt and rude - in this case, "Bonjour, j'ai des problèmes alimentaires....")

And I think I'm right in saying restaurants are required to keep information that you can consult on which items may contain the 14 major allergens (some may publish this on their menus)

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Old Jun 21st, 2022, 04:25 AM
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Everyone reacts to, and deals with, jet lag differently. Unlike bilboburgler, when flying from the US to Europe I spend part of the afternoon asleep, then wake up to eat dinner and go to bed at the usual time. I am then synced for the rest of the trip.

The language advice is good. Time was, you encountered little English in Paris, that is no longer true. You just need the normal polite phrases - hello, goodbye, please, thank you, I'm sorry I only speak English, where is...? Little as I like google, there is always Google Translate if you get into difficulties. (Yes, take your smart phone. I use T-Mobile, which has good international coverage with the right plan.)
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Old Jun 21st, 2022, 07:49 AM
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You might see if Coffee Break French podcast would suit you (free, short lessons designed to fit in the time of a coffee break)

You might see if this blog and her related You Tube series is helpful for the cultural and language guidance (mostly in English, but some French phrases) https://www.ouiinfrance.com/french-m...important-word or this
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Old Jun 21st, 2022, 08:27 AM
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Good morning. I can't add much to the suggestions already made regarding staying active when you arrive in the city(though I and my grandchildren have been known to grab an hour nap). Toughing it out the first day has always worked best for us. Regarding language, if you know greetings and a few simple words you will likely have no problems. In fact, I have found my very rudimentary Spanish has also come in handy.

For teenage shopping, you might take a look here https://www.doitinparis.com/en/brownie-shop-paris-26066 . The shopping area Kerouac mentions is usually a mecca for teen shopping. I routinely stay in that area when I am in Paris and there are lots of young people not only frequenting the shops but also seeming to just hang out. I am assuming you have access to Zara and H&M stores where you live but if not those might also be of interest. My now older granddaughters loved Zara when they were teens.

For dining, perhaps consider La Calife https://www.calife.com/. You can take a look at the menus and see if it will work for your family. You can email them also to ask questions. I have done this dinner cruise and it was very nice. It ended up being a drizzly evening around Christmastime and we all enjoyed being together while be able to see the sites of Paris including the twinkling Eiffel Towers.

Best wishes for a lovely trip.

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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 08:22 PM
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We've done Paris graduation trips with 12 nieces/nephews. Agree with kerouac's suggestion about Les Halles area. Our gang seemed to also like BHV on Rue de Rivoli just across from Hôtel de Ville. Of course there's always the <<grand magasins>> department stores - Le Bon Marché, Printemps,Galeries Lafayette and the recently refurbished Samaritaine - for a bit more upscale shopping. Le Bon Marche is fairly close to your hotel and has a great food hall where you could pick up a nice picnic lunch to enjoy in nearby Luxembourg Gardens. If you do make it to the grands magasins know that Galeries Lafayette has a very casual but quite tasty cafeteria on the 6th floor, and the view from the 7th floor rooftop is excellent. There is also now dining on the rooftop but we have not yet partaken so can't offer a critique.

As for festivities on 14 July, the throngs congregate on the Champs de Mars and/or Trocadero to see the fireworks that start about 11 pm and the music that precedes the fireworks by a couple hours. It gets very crowded and folks show up hours in advance to claim a patch of ground. We've been several times and it is always crowded. Some "Bastille Day" overview info is here.

Also agree with the suggestion to bring along a card which describes your food restrictions in French. If you are unable to get this prior to your trip no doubt the concierge at your hotel can provide it. Not to be alarmist, but given an issue with <<allergie aux crustaces>> it's probably advisable to take an epi pen on your trip, just in case. Most restaurants should be able to accommodate your needs. One place we return to all the time because in addition to great food they were very accommodating with some dietary restrictions is Le Cosi at 9 rue Cujas, near the Pantheon.

Bon voyage!
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Old Jun 26th, 2022, 09:27 AM
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Thank you all so much for your information and suggestions!! I am taking notes and checking all of your suggestions and links. Truly invaluable!
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Old Jun 26th, 2022, 12:26 PM
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I'm not a big supporter of trying to learn languages while commuting, because it seems dangerous to me, as you should be concentrating on the road. Language learning requires attention and conentration, and so does driving.. I would suggest you do this at home.

Just rethink the podcast/app thing, which has taken over, You need an audiobook or CDs like you would use to learn at home before apps existed. Perhaps some geared more towards basic tourist phrases, of course. Pimsleur concentrates too much on business people, for example, although I think maybe they have some short versions for tourists, not sure.

Fodors has one, reviews says it is decent, you get book plus a couple CDs
Amazon Amazon

I think there aren't as many around as there used to be due to apps, so maybe you cn buy something used on Amazon or Ebay, etc.
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Old Jun 26th, 2022, 11:12 PM
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I highly recommend Le Grenier du Notre Dame – High level, vegetarian restaurant (the first veggie and macrobiotic restaurant in Paris, started in 1978). Really creative, delicious and beautifully presented. It’s located right off the Seine across from Notre Dame on Rue de la Bucherie in the 5th. There are a few tables on the sidewalk (facing construction) and a few tables on the ground floor and more upstairs. I have some other recommendations in my trip report on Paris (2018).

Also, if your daughter is a history nerd, I recommend reading "How Paris became Paris," by Joan Elizabeth deJean. Also, I LOVED David McCollough's book, The Greatest Journey, about Americans (writers, artists, doctors) that went to paris in mid-19th century.

Finally, I tell everyone going to Paris they they must see the Nissim Camondo Museum- in a mansion bordering the Parc Monceau. Very beautiful and a moving story.
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Old Jun 27th, 2022, 12:05 AM
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Hi BMarieL, I do think it's a good idea to learn some French before you go, if for no other reason that it's a courtesy to the host culture to meet them halfway and learn some of what they use. And you will find it useful. A lot of people I know use the Duolingo app (audio and written). You may also find Google Translate on your phone useful as you can hover it over some writing (in numerous languages, not just French) and it will translate for you. Good for anything written. Learn basic phrases, like please, thank you, you're welcome, hello, goodbye, and colours and numbers if you can manage it (up to 100, although it's tricky when you get up to 70 - 80 ). That should cover you very well. If you can find a phrase book with a CD (old fashioned I know, but you might still find something) that would set you up for success. Lonely Planet has one.

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Old Jun 27th, 2022, 12:21 AM
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Just surveyed my Household Technology Expert (aka teen daughter) about French podcasts - she recommended you have a look at Spotify to see if there are any French-learning podcasts. I can't help you there as I don't subscribe, but if you choose the version with ads it is free, no subs.

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Old Jul 21st, 2022, 05:59 PM
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Lavundula, my daughter hooked me up with the Spotify for French and it was great! Allowed me to choose the subject matter that I desired.

I'll post a short trip report on what we did!
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