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Paris anyone?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
So, me and Mark are planning a trip to paris for our 4yr anniversary in May.
my main concern is everything i hear is that they hate americans and most dont speak english and they wont help you. Now ive seen there are some hotels with english speaking reps, and we are trying to plan and everything out and book tours to make it easier. im going to try and learn a few french phrases, do you think they would be a little nicer if they seen i was trying??
i love travelling and been out of the country a few times but they were all american friendly....has anyone here ever been there? any words of advice?
post #2 of 9
I was there last July for my niece's wedding. Contrary to belief, they don't hate Americans, but rather, our government's policies. Get a French translation book (I like Rick Steve's and French for Dummies) and learn all of the basic phrases / courtesy's and use them at every chance you can. It was rare that we didn't find someone to help us translate when we needed help. I look at it this way. If someone from a foreign country comes here and makes no attempt to speak my language, then I would be frustrated with them. Why would they be any different?

We stayed in an apartment a block south of the Seine and very close to the Louvre. You want to stay close to public transportation points, as you don't want to rent a car while there. Cars are tiny and parking is challenging.

And embrace their culture. While you are dining, remember that slow service is considered good service. The meal is a celebration in itself and they feel it would be rude to rush you through it. Go with the flow, relax, and have fun.

We had a complete blast and I would go back in a heart beat. We travelled with some folks that didn't try to speak the language or fit in with their culture, and we laughed when the locals were rude to them and wonderful to us, even at the same dining table.

My niece grew up in Chicago and met/married a man from Paris. I can totally see why she loves that country.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
yeah i totally see what you are saying...i have nothing against anyone but i think when people come to the USA they should at least attempt to learn english, althought we cater to alot of those that dont. i find it much more respectable when someone is trying to communicate with you in your language even if they dont know it well. im def going to learn as much as i can, i have a friend in DC who is from france, im going to have her teach me a few phrases as well and ill prob buy myself that you mentioned. most of the hotels we were looking at were very close to everything. i have friends from all over the world in DC and i always have them teach me some basics of their language, i always like to be able to greet them in their language, i think its a sweet gesture
post #4 of 9
I have been to Paris twice, the second time with Jen on our second trip to Europe. First of all, definitely get all the Rick Steve's books you can, including Mona Winks (there may be a newer version) which has self-guided tours of Europe's top museums. As he states in the book, the French do not change the location of their exhibits so an older version should be fine. I used the book and I would read the description of the art work and soon I had a following of Americans following us. Also, the book tells you how to navigate the exhibits from a history of art perspective so you do not wander through exhibits with just French titles. The Louvre and the Orsay are musts.

If you are going on tours you should be fine. We just used the Rick Steve's books and saw lots of things. He has wonderful walks. Get a pass to the Metro. It is easy to navigate.

That being said, Jen and I found when we went about 9 years ago that the Parisians did not like to speak English. I speak Spanish and a fair bit of Italian, but not being able to speak more than a little French in Paris was a problem. Jen just went a year ago for a college semester to Paris and Italy and she still found the French not willing to speak English. When we were in Spain, I talked Spanish, and everyone was so helpful even when I did not conjugate the verbs correctly. When I tried speaking my limited French, no one helped me out.

My apologies to our French members. That was just our experience in Paris. I will add that Jen and I are not typical American tourists. We each carry just one 21-inch bag and a backpack. If we can't fit stuff in those bags, we don't take it. Also, we are nice and don't expect much help because we do the Rick Steve's thing which is basically not to act like a tourist but to get to know the locals.

That being said, Paris is lovely. Really, get the Rick Steve's book just to find the best place to view the Eiffel Tower at night. Cruise the Seine. Order the plat du jour at the restaurant and you pretty much can't go wrong. Expect to eat slowly and late. Enjoy some of the best sites in Europe, in a city rich in history. Notre Dame is very beautiful.

We had some of the best meals in the restaurant called Le Marais Ste Catherine at 5, rue Caron in the Place du Marché. We also had a great meal at a restaurant called Little Havana (go figure) at 5, rue de Sévigné. I made a scrapbook of our travels and I took it out so that I could tell you their names.

Of course, you must shop and see Galeries Lafayette and Primtemps. What is Paris without shopping?

Have a great trip! I wish that I could go with you!
post #5 of 9
I was in Paris 2 years ago and i hated the place apart from it's architecture.

In the UK they've always been known for being rude, but i thought give them the benefit of the doubt, but they were, especially the taxi drivers, and that's when we spoke in french as well

Can you tell i won't be going back again in a hurry
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
all i want to do is kiss under the eiffel tower! im a hopeless romantic.

we are going regardless and if they are ignorant we will just have to grin and bare it.

when i went to london they were absolutley wonderful, they loved americans.
amsterdam- no probs there, they didnt seem to like us or hate us
spain- ridiculous, they had to be the rudest, as soon as they heard i spoke english they say no sequentra and stuck their noses in the air, thank god after 2 days we started finding alot more americans to hang out with. i work in a call center and all i hear on the phone all say is: speak a spanish? NOPE....SORRRY! i i have no problems with anyone but if they are going to live in the country dont expect us to learn your language!

sorry for the rant i guess thats how the other countries feel, but america just seems to make it easy for them....
post #7 of 9
I have loved Paris sionce I was ten years old and now I live only 2 hours away! But Parisians do have a reputation even among the French of being a bit snobbish and iffy towards visitors, even provincial French. However, they do appreciate being at least greeted in French, and being told how beautiful their city is (and it is!). And I have always found them helpful if approached in the right spirit. I have seen too many self-righteous visitors shouting in English and then being bewildered when they got a bad response. As said, you will get short shrift if you try to defend US foreign policy, but the French are quite capable of distinguishing between the Government and the visitor.

Coffees are expensive in Paris, even for us who live in France. But 3 course meals are often cheap and sometimes include wine. It is always better to go for the menu du jour (meal of the day) and most waiters will love to explain it to you, as long as you don't make a face if they suggest an option based on tripe ( there are always choices). Shopping goes without saying, and the area round the Opera has the best shops - though you should wander along the Faubourg St Honore to see the high fashion couturier salons and showrooms too.

Paris is a city for walking in. You cannot appreciate it any other way, so take good comfortable shoes and be prepared to hit tarmac. Avoid taxis. Take the metro to the area you want to explore, and a good guide book and large scale map, on which every street is shown. Musts are the Isle de la Cite, in the middle of the river Seine, with Notre Dame on it (and a fascinating bird market on Sundays), the Eiffel Tower (but going up it is expensive and can be a disappointment if the weather is not perfect - and NEVER eat in the restaurant at the top, it is a rip-off). Also Montmartre district with the Sacre-Coeur church (a better view of the city from there than the Tour Eiffel)and the artists' Bohemian quarter where you can get your sketch or caricature done and see the cafes where Toulouse Lautrec drew and painted the lowlife of his time. I love the Marais (French for marsh, which is what it used to be, being on low ground near the river) - it was the old Jewish quarter and still has good delis, and is now the gay centre of Paris and is very lively, with loads of good cheap restaurants and craft/art shops, especially round the Place des Vosges.

The Luxembourg gardens are lovely, with a good and not too expensive open-air restaurant, the CAtacombs and Pere Lachaise Cemetery are a bit creepy but utterly fascinating and you can see the graves of Oscar Wilde and many other famous persons, not all of them French by any means.

The Centre Pompidou is a modern Arts Centre, with the area round it (Chatelet) full of cafes, restaurants and street theatre on summer evenings.

And cross as many bridges as you can, on foot. Walk along the Seine, looking at all the book stalls, artists and fishermen, and the little boats going by. A trip by boat is moderately expensive, but can be fun on a nice day. My favourite museum is the Musee D'Orsee, in a converted Art Nouveau railway station, and contains impressionist and modern paintings, art nouveau furniture and ceramics, Greek and Roman statuary, and other things. And the building is amazing.

A good day trip is to Monet's garden at Giverny, easy to arrange and well worth while.

I love Paris, though you might not be able to tell!!
post #8 of 9
Try to speak the language, be polite, and don't use PROUD AMERICAN luggage tags and you will be fine. Hope you have a great trip!
post #9 of 9
we went there in june, it was only a weekend trip but we absolutely looooooved it!

i did say bonjour and mercie to the waiters and hotel ect they loved it!
the first night the restaurant we went to had a two course meal with wine included which ended up being very cheap. We were following some americans to a museum (so glad we did) because they lead us to a part of paris which had all pubs and meals we hung out at a pub that sold a pint of beer for 2.50.. and you could not get beer for under 8 euros anywhere else!
We then had the traditional Fondue, it was all you can eat and it was just absolutely wonderful!

Compared to most places in Europe Paris is sooo expensive! Save up as much money as you can and enjoy all the food!!!

We did not come accross to anyone snobbish so we were fairly lucky!

Have fun!
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