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Paris & Provence
Old 10-02-2007, 03:07 PM   #1
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Paris & Provence

Well folks, my wife and I are finally taking our honeymoon tomorrow when we head for Paris, France. Anyone have tips for having a good time in Paris, and then in Provence? We'll be in France for 9-10 days (depending on whether you count travel days).
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:10 PM   #2
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I was in Paris 10 years ago and it was wonderful. Plenty of things to do, take one of the tour busses that drop you off at diff. places of interest. You can spend a week in the Louvre alone.

I found that to get along with the French and have a good time in the Restaurants that you should order attempting to speak French. The waiters were then eager to help you order. Order in English and good luck.

Have a great time.
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:19 PM   #3
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That's why I've been practicing Pimsleur French Level I (15 disk set) in the car for the past few months. Tried working on Level II, but the commuting traffic sucks so bad it's hard to concentrate. Unfortunately, learning while driving doesn't allow for much reading practice, so my pronunciation of written French is quite poor.
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:49 PM   #4
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When they see that your trying is all that matters. Have fun!
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Old 10-02-2007, 05:00 PM   #5
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Have a great time. Paris is one of my all-time favorite destinations. By all means attempt a little French. Or at least learn to say (in French) that you do not speak much French (Je ne pas parle beaucoup de France). This way you get points for attempting the language, but at the same time prompt them to speak in English. This little phrase goes a long way towards easing transatlantic relations.

Approach the Parisians in about the same way you might approach a New Yorker. They are a bit chilly at first (don't expect too much smiling and grinning), and want you to get to the point quickly and not block the sidewalk while you're gawking. That said, they can be very warm and generous once you break the ice - that is - if you take the right steps to break the ice.

Anyhow, the folks in the tourist industry are already accustomed to us yanks, and generally will size you up as American in 2 seconds flat and start speaking English before you even open your mouth. Also note that since the Euro borders are much more seamless these days, you will encounter many other nationalities as well.

Lastly, I'd say, when in Rome do as the Romans. From a French POV, yanks tend to be too forward, overly enthusiastic, annoyingly boisterous, and grin too darned much (the ugly American stereotype). My travel observations are that there is plenty of truth to the label. I try my best not to perpetuate it and it's allowed me to make friends with locals, and see a different part of the culture, off the beaten track.

One more thing, by way of toursit activities. I highly recommend the Musee Rodin (Rodin museum). It is small, generally not crowded, and the grounds are fun to mill around. Also, if you're into this sort of thing, the flee markets on the outskirts of Paris are massive, I mean football field massive, and can consume a full day. Lots of fun, and easy to get to once you get used to the metro. Be aware, however, that the flee markets are VERY off the tourist track in an area that is safe, but looks kind of rough around the edges - a very different population than tourist Paris.

Anyhow, HAVE FUN. I'm jealous and now you've got me thinking. Time to return to Paris!
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Old 10-02-2007, 05:02 PM   #6
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Have a great time. Paris is one of my all-time favorite destinations. By all means attempt a little French. Or at least learn to say (in French) that you do not speak much French (Je ne pas parle beaucoup de France). This way you get points for attempting the language, but at the same time prompt them to speak in English. This little phrase goes a long way towards easing transatlantic relations.

Approach the Parisians in about the same way you might approach a New Yorker. They are a bit chilly at first (don't expect too much smiling and grinning), and want you to get to the point quickly and not block the sidewalk while you're gawking. That said, they can be very warm and generous once you break the ice - that is - if you take the right steps to break the ice.

Anyhow, the folks in the tourist industry are already accustomed to us yanks, and generally will size you up as American in 2 seconds flat and start speaking English before you even open your mouth. Also note that since the Euro borders are much more seamless these days, you will encounter many other nationalities as well.

Lastly, I'd say, when in Rome do as the Romans. From a French POV, yanks tend to be too forward, overly enthusiastic, annoyingly boisterous, and grin too darned much (the ugly American stereotype). My travel observations are that there is plenty of truth to the label. I try my best not to perpetuate it and it's allowed me to make friends with locals, and see a different part of the culture, off the beaten track.

One more thing, by way of toursit activities. I highly recommend the Musee Rodin (Rodin museum). It is small, generally not crowded, and the grounds are fun to mill around. Also, if you're into this sort of thing, the flee markets on the outskirts of Paris are massive, I mean football field massive, and can consume a full day. Lots of fun, and easy to get to once you get used to the metro. Be aware, however, that the flee markets are VERY off the tourist track in an area that is safe, but looks kind of rough around the edges - a very different population than tourist Paris.

Anyhow, HAVE FUN. I'm jealous and now you've got me thinking. Time to return to Paris!
Correction: Je ne parle pas beaucoup de France.

Clearly my French is rusty.
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Old 10-02-2007, 05:18 PM   #7
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Okay, sorry, I've got one more thing. Call it my New Yorker fashion bias, but this is a subject of tourist ridicule in NYC and most major Euro cities:

If you're over the age of 18, leave the bright white sneakers and jogging suits at home.

I say this as a very seasoned traveler. Parisians are fairly fashion-biased people. They'll size you up by what you are wearing and it can affect how you are treated (People wonder why they sometimes get hostility before they've even opened their mouth and this is part of the why).

There. I said it. Hopefully, you already knew this.

No offense to people who love wearing white sneakers.
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Old 10-02-2007, 06:39 PM   #8
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We traveled to Paris on a few occasions. The last was three years ago when we visited our daughter studying her junior year abroad.

The Louvre museum is of course a must see and the nearby D'Orsay Museum is a continuation of arts and paintings exhibits for the likes of Manet, Monet and Van Gogh. The Notre Dame Church, the latin Quarter and the Luxembourg Gardens nearby are beautiful this time of year.

The Opera area offers lots of relatively inexpensive dinner options.

Have fun.

Gekko,

Your french is rusty. The expression is " je ne parle pas beaucoup de francais"
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Old 10-02-2007, 06:48 PM   #9
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Okay, sorry, I've got one more thing. Call it my New Yorker fashion bias, but this is a subject of tourist ridicule in NYC and most major Euro cities:

If you're over the age of 18, leave the bright white sneakers and jogging suits at home.

I say this as a very seasoned traveler. Parisians are fairly fashion-biased people. They'll size you up by what you are wearing and it can affect how you are treated (People wonder why they sometimes get hostility before they've even opened their mouth and this is part of the why).

There. I said it. Hopefully, you already knew this.

No offense to people who love wearing white sneakers.
Ditch the fanny pack, too -- you're not a marsupial!
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Old 10-02-2007, 07:14 PM   #10
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We traveled to Paris on a few occasions. The last was three years ago when we visited our daughter studying her junior year abroad.

The Louvre museum is of course a must see and the nearby D'Orsay Museum is a continuation of arts and paintings exhibits for the likes of Manet, Monet and Van Gogh. The Notre Dame Church, the latin Quarter and the Luxembourg Gardens nearby are beautiful this time of year.

The Opera area offers lots of relatively inexpensive dinner options.

Have fun.

Gekko,

Your french is rusty. The expression is " je ne parle pas beaucoup de francais"
All great suggestions... and yes my French is indeed rusty - I remember how to say this stuff perfectly well, but writing it down in a hurry is a whole other matter.
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Old 10-02-2007, 07:36 PM   #11
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Wrong time of year, but consider a visit to Monet's garden in Giverny. If you have time, there are so many wonderful rural areas, e.g. medieval castles, vineyards in Perigord, Quercy, etc. If you visit Perigord, do not miss Sarlat, one of the most delightful medieval towns anywhere, with great shopping. SARLAT : Welcome in Sarlat, Perigord (Dordogne, France). Of course, consider Provence.....Take a day trip from Paris to Fontainebleau to see Napoleon's country "cottage".

There is a list called "les cent plus beaux villages de France". Here are some from the Rhone: Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

Wander in the Tuileries and the Jardin de Luxembourg. Don't forget the smaller museums, like the Musee de Luxembourg. When I was there in May, they had a beautiful exhibit of jewellery by Lalique, including headdresses worn by Sarah Bernhardt.

Avoid overpriced cabaret and champagne at the Moulin Rouge (unless you must get your topless fix), but do explore Montmartre. Putter in the studios, and visit the museum. Find the historic artists' hangouts like Le Lapin Agile (the Agile Rabbit)......

Aesthetics matter to the French. In country towns, you will see trees pruned to precise rectangular shapes. Country people are generally friendlier than Parisians, but there is a major campaign underway to get Parisians to be "nicer". On this year's visit, I noticed that many more people were comfortable in English than in the past.

Wander along Rue Faubourg St. Honore and marvel at the outrageous prices at Hermes and Longchamp (definitely not LBYM).......or explore Boulevard St. Germain (with the oldest church in Paris) and have a bite at Cafe te Flore next door, where Simone de Beauvoir hung out......or cross the Seine to Cafe Zimmer at 1, Place du Chatelet, resplendent in its turn of the last century red velvet. This is one of the literary and artistic hangouts and when I was there, Carmen was playing at the theatre next door.

Often forgotten are the cemeteries. Everyone from Jim Morrison to Oscar Wilde is here. Cemeteries are popular places for families to take a walk.

If you are landing at Aeroport Charles de Gaulle, take the RER into town. The Paris metro is quick and efficient, though old. Trains run on time. Things are sometimes a little grubby. Be prepared for a relaxed attitude to smoking. The non smoking section often means that the waiter simply takes the ashtray off your table! But France has something for everyone. It's not easy to stay within a budget, but it's a wonderful country to visit.

Bon voyage!
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Old 10-02-2007, 07:50 PM   #12
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Okay, sorry, I've got one more thing. Call it my New Yorker fashion bias, but this is a subject of tourist ridicule in NYC and most major Euro cities:

If you're over the age of 18, leave the bright white sneakers and jogging suits at home.
And... grownups don't where jeans in France unless they are shoveling horse manure. Same for short pants - not seen often on grownups unless they are tourist.
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:55 PM   #13
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Some things that we really enjoyed and that you may not find in all the guidebooks

1. Go to the catacombs. Wandering around underground with millions of skeletons of the famous, the infamous and the ordinary all mixed together gives one a unique perspective on the world and your place in it. It is cool and quiet and there are interesting memorials along the way. In WWII, these catacombs were used by the Resistance. It is at the Denfert-Rochereau stop on the Metro.

2. Try the "Marche aux Puces", the Paris flea market. They have all sorts of interesting things for sale there. You can also get there on the Metro. It is in Saint Ouens de Clignancourt.

3. Cluny (it is in the guidebooks, but cool nonetheless). An ancient monastery and Roman baths. Interesting textiles.

4. Sainte Chappelle. Also in the guidebooks, but well worth the effort to get through security. Astonishingly beautiful stained glass windows.
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Old 10-03-2007, 11:17 AM   #14
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Fantastic recommendations all. As for my attire, I brought the tennis shoes even though I don't plan on wearing them that often (I may go for a run in the early morning along the Seine). As for jeans, well, according to friends of my wife who live in Paris, the Parisians do indeed wear jeans, but they're expensive and worn with, of all things -- tennis shoes! (Chuck Taylors or brown/tan/black/gray athletic shoes).

Overall, we'll do the touristy things, but only the major ones (we're skipping Montmarte (Sacre Cour) and possibly the Picasso museum as neither of us likes Picasso). Otherwise, we just simply want to enjoy the ambiance of Paris and everything that it has to offer. In Provence, we're renting a car and touring all over the place.
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Old 10-03-2007, 11:20 AM   #15
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We were there in 2004 and 2005....wonderful experience. The subway is very easy to use for transportation as well as the hop-on, hop-off boat service along the Seine. We saw a good portion of the sights listed here but just the atmosphere and just BEING in Paris is what I enjoyed. Sipping a cafe au lait and people watching, buying fruit at the markets, visiting the bakery every morning for our daily bread. We rented an apartment for the 2005 trip...lived like the locals...it was fun. Oh...the French really like ham (jabon?) sandwiches. You'll probably see people breaking off pieces of bread from a loaf while walking down the street...boy they like bread...and they're skinny.
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Old 10-03-2007, 11:23 AM   #16
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Renting cars... In our 2004 trip we toured the countryside. Rent a small car...we rented a VAN....big mistake...but it was still FUN.
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Old 10-03-2007, 03:58 PM   #17
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Hmmm.....I off to Southern France & Northern Spain (Langued'oc and Catalan) next week..... You've gotten some good suggestions for Paris....a few more less usual ideas...

Love the Promendade Plantee (the elevated park on an old train line that the hi line in NY is being modeled after)....starts just past the new Opera....

Try the Musee Marmottan (spelling??) in the 16th arrondissment near the Bois de Boulogne....a small museum, primarily Monet's.....including "Impression of a Sunset", the "original" impressionist painting.

Might also try the restaurant on an island in the Seine near Chatou (about 10 km past La Defense on the RER)....it's the same restaurant (nearly unchanged)where Renoir painted the Luncheon of the Boating Party... There's also a small Museum of Impressionists on the Seine...

Enjoy....
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Old 10-03-2007, 04:07 PM   #18
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Make sure you visit montmartre. It's really nice at night, but a bit touristy, however you can walk around the streets and kinda of just get lost and find a real cozy restaurant. For some reason the wine tastes better there?

It's a real beautiful place and truly Parisian. Enjoy your honeymoon.

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Old 10-03-2007, 05:05 PM   #19
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My favorite thing in Paris is to buy lunch ingredients at a Super Marche and take it back to the hotel, remembering to BYOB (bring your own bag); also buy pastries by pointing at what you want and indicating how many! The flavor of fruit like oranges is so different. Hang out at cafes. Its all about the food!
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Old 10-03-2007, 05:57 PM   #20
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Do NOT rent a car; do not drive in Paris. The Metro is sufficient; whenever it is not, take a taxi. We walked a lot.
Here's a must-see! 28/50.- Paris, L'Opera. Tourist Information - VIRTOURIST.COM

We did the usual touristy things and had no difficulty with the French people. The "most rude" thing that happened was when I invited one of the information guys to come to Texas. "Why" he replied, then tactfully said, "Why not?"

We went to the Moulin Rouge, which I shall call another "must-see." Bring money; lots of money. I was disgusted with all those bare-breasted babes dancing just inches above me.... NOT... It is a very good show with a good French meal and Red Wine.
MOULIN ROUGE (Official Site) Reservation/Booking +33 1 53 09 82 82

We enjoyed it and will certainly go back.
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