I’ve heard alot of different things about Paris: it’s beautiful, it’s dirty, it’s romantic, it’s grey, it’s exciting, it’s over-rated. Everybody has an opinion about Paris. No matter how much research you do or how many travel articles you read, you will never know what Paris is truly like unless you go there yourself. So take my report with a grain of fleur de sel, and draw your own conclusions.
We stayed in the Latin Quarter located on the Left Bank, and a 5 minute walk from the Notre Dame Cathedral. The Latin Quarter comes alive at night in the labrynth of streets with every kind of culture represented: Turkish, Lebanese, Chinese, Tibetan, Russian…if you want kebabs, the choices are endless. Sushi? You’ll find it here too. There’s even a Canadian pub with, I’m embarassed to say, potato skins and other bland offerings on the menu. Oh and in case you’re wondering about the French? Mais bien sûr! You can’t walk 10 steps without bumping into a bistro, cafe, patisserie, boulangerie or epicerie. It is Paris, after all.
- If you don’t parlez vous Francais, buy a phrase book and use it. Parisiennes will immediately deduce (by your horrific accent) that you are an Anglo, but will appreciate your effort. Things will go much smoother for you if you at least try.
- Forget taxis, take the Metro, a “hop on, hop off” bus, or walk.
- August definitely means store/restaurant closures in some districts
- You will not find North American style breakfasts…pain au chocolat and coffee are the norm, and dont expect anything to be open before 8 am
- When you’re in line-ups or walking anywhere touristy, keep a good grip on your wallet and make sure all zippers are done up on your backpacks. In fact, many people wore theirs on the fronts of their bodies…beggars and street urchins are a problem and come in all shapes and sizes
- Know the etiquette: always greet people with a “bonjour Monsieur/Madame” and leave with a “merci, au revoir monsieur/madame” when you leave their shops/cafes, etc. along with including “s’il vous plait” when you ask for something.
- 4 days is not long enough , and
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.