Uneasy About Paris

Old Mar 14th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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Uneasy About Paris

Last May after I graduated from college I went on a four week tour of Central and Eastern Europe--Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Czech Republic and loved every second of it. I went with a friend of mine and his family--they had everything set up like hotels, transportation, sightseeing, etc.

This May, I've decided to return to Europe--western Europe. So a friend of mine and I are going to the British Isles. On one of our London days we are taking the Eurostar train down to Paris for a one day trip. This is where I get a bit uneasy. I'm worried that since I don't speak French I'll find it difficult for us to get around on our own. There are a couple of tour companies out of London that have escorted tours of Paris--but they costs considerably more and aren't budget friendly to this graduate student.

If anyone could reassure me on this I would greatly appreciate it.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 11:31 AM
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Here's a Paris tour for €5.50: tinyurl.com/ovpaw

The only French you will need to know is bonjour/bonsoir, monsieur/madame, s'il vous plaît, and merci.

Always use the first phrase to begin an exchange or when entering a mom & pop shop, the second whenever you ask for something, and the third when you get it.

Many French people speak English, but it is considered presumptuous not to ask parlez-vous anglais?

When you have finished your conversation, say merci, au revoir.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Yes, you can do Paris on your own even though you don't speak French. Since you have less than a full day have a plan of what you want to see so you know the opening and closing times and you don't waste time back tracking. Do learn a few key phrases, like hello, goodbye, thank you, where is... and I would like..., as in I would like to buy... I have also found it helpful to learn numbers 1 through 20, 100, 200, etc. (the smaller numbers for buying chocolate by the piece and the larger numbers for buying chocolate by weight).
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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You do not need to speak French to enjoy Paris. Millions of people go to Paris without speaking French. Many Parisians speak English; even though I do speak some French, when I address a Parisian in French I am likely to be answered in English because his or her English is better than my French.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 11:46 AM
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Paris is a cosmopolitan city, that is used to visitors and is very easy to navigate, especially as there is only so much that you will be able to experience in one day. All you need is a map, a comfortable pair of shoes, and the ability to say Bonjour, and Merci. Also it wouldn't hurt to consult a guidebook before you go so you can decide what you want to see. The first time I went to Paris, I did so on my own. I needed very little to no knowledge of French, just the ability to say please, thank you and good day.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Thanks everyone for your help. Can someome tell me about how far the Gare du Nord is from the Eiffel Tower, Lourve, and other big attractions in Paris--I guess what I am asking is is the Gare du Nord centrally located?
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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You can easily jump on the Metro from Gare du Nord to reach any of the main sites -- you don't need to understand French to use one of the world's best, and simplest, subways. Paris is a walker's paradise, but you may want to rely on the Metro from time to time.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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(The metro ticket machines are programmed in four languages.)

I know that it's terrible to say this, but I never encourage hesitant tourists to visit Paris. It is indeed the best city in the world, and the most visited, and it just keeps getting worse and worse for those of us who live here because: TOO MANY TOURISTS!

But I will always defend your right to visit.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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english is the common language of europe (and the world)...it's how almost all non-native english speaking people will communicate when they they need to use a common language.

most parisians are cosmopolitan enough to speak at least some english. french people need english if they want to travel to most foreign countries - even where english is not the primary language.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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At Gare du Nord, go out the northeast exit and get on the N° 42 bus. You will arrive at the Eiffel Tower in about 40 minutes, after having driven past a goodly half of the monumental architecture of Paris. Here is the route map showing the sights:

http://www.ratp.info/orienter/f_plan...=pdf&nompdf=42
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 02:15 PM
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Hi BB,

> since I don't speak French I'll find it difficult for us to get around on our own.<

Yet you had no problem in Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Czech Republic?

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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 02:23 PM
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OOOOPS,

There was supposed to be a at the end of that.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 02:24 PM
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I agree with Robespierre. Try and take the bus. You see a tremendous amount of great things in Paris from the bus system, which of course you miss if you take the subway.

We visited Paris in May2 2006 and also speak no French, etc. Being polite and using the phrases mentioned in an earlier comment are the key. We loved the city, never encountered anyone but nice people, and can't wait to return.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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ira--apparently s/he went with people who took care of everything.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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kerouac, Your namesake would think you a tool. Paris is a big city. Don't go to the very few areas that tourists visit. Perhaps you could move out of the 6th.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 02:59 PM
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Personally, if I had little time to spend in Paris I would want to get to the places I wanted to see the most in the fastest possible conveyance.

OK, you miss some of the street scenes on the Metro. If you want street scenes, AND fast(er) then consider a taxi.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 03:00 PM
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My cat and I speak the same amount of French, yet I get around ok in Paris.
I suggest getting a Michelin map of Paris that shows the Metro lines.

Also, the RATP web site will show bus route outlines. Most of the bus stops have detailed route maps on them so you can decide which bus you need.

I find that on the buses people are much more willing to help you out than they are on the Metro.

I know the first time we visited Paris, we were riding the bus from Gare Montparnasse toward the Eifel Tower.
Two people on the bus offered to help.

Later after we walked across the bridge toward the Trocadero, two gentlemen attempted to assist us get to Place de la Concorde. One of them spoke no English, but pointed at the route number. The other gentleman, older than I, actually rode with us. I am not sure he was going that way, but he wanted to make sure we got there.

On another occasion, I was looking at my Michelin map on the sidewalk, and some fellow who spoke excellent English stopped to help us.

So I have never had much of a problem, but I helped myself by learning the bus routes and the Metro routes.

I had much rather ride the bus.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 03:00 PM
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You'll be fine! I don't speak French, either, and got along fine during five days in Paris. I just learned the basics before arriving (hello, thank you, please, I would like, a few common names for food, etc.) and muddled through. I don't know if I would have fared so well in a small French village, but in a major urban area, I was fine.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 05:29 PM
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If I've read your post correctly, you are going to be in Paris for just one day. Is that correct? If that's the case, you probably want to make the most of your precious time. IMO you should strongly consider the "escorted tour" out of London. Yes, it will cost you some hard earned bucks, but just think how valuable your time is and how frustrating it might be if you either get lost or don't plan your itinerary properly. If this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I'd spend the extra money for the English speaking tour.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 05:32 PM
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I had no problem navigating Paris without speaking French, but we were there for 5 days.

In your situation with such limited time, as others agree, I would consider doing a tour.
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