Observations from France

Eiffel Tower

  • You can manage quite well without being able to speak French. The key is to be polite. Being polite will carry you far in life.
  • Your ability to interpret French will improve as the day’s pass (written, not oral).
  • We only dined in French restaurants, bistros, cafés, etc. Some were chosen at random and others by recommendation. We had two rules when making a selection. First, never select a restaurant where no patrons are dining inside or out. Second, never select a restaurant with a cheeseburger on the menu.
  • It was often quite easy to spot Americans, mainly by dress, but also by what they eat and drink (see number 3). If you see a coke, burger and fries that’s an easy giveaway. Go with water, wine and the local fare.
  • Notre Dame is a must for anyone’s bucket list. If you’re not moved by the experience, I’d question your mental state. And BTW, it’s free.
  • The Lourve is also a bucket list item, but please go for more than the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory. While those are amazing, the Lourve has so much more to offer. The vaulted ceilings of the Galerie d’Apollon are absolutely stunning. Plan for a day, but realistically you would need more than one. There’s just so much to see. It was only 15 EU (~$17).
  • For Notre Dame and the Lourve, leave your damn camera in your bag or pocket. There is no way a photo is going to offer you the experience of being inside of either place. Open yourself up and absorb the emotions of what you are experiencing.
  • Those people who walk up to a painting or a statue, snap a photo and walk on are dead to me.
  • Selfies are out of control.
  • Don’t buy “bottled” water from the vendors walking around the outside of the Lourve. Trust me.
  • The shops along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées were a disappointment. The avenue is littered with American brands and the like from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. I only recall a handful of French-based brands such as Chanel and Longchamp. They were surrounded by McDonalds, Gap, Banana Republic, Disney, Sephora, Zara, H&M and so on.
  • While sitting on a bench taking in the Arc de Triomphe, I’m pretty sure Daphne Groeneveld and a friend came and sat down on the other side (it was Paris Fashion Week).
  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés is where to go to shop.
  • Walked into a Burberry store with some intention of purchasing a scarf, but felt so out of place that I declined.
  • A bike tour is a fabulous way to see the city of Paris (thanks, Mollie). Failing that, walk. Nothing else will suffice.
  • Look for the work of Space Invader.
  • We saw where Jim Morrison (The Doors) lived, but not died. This sign says as much.
  • Philip Lim was set up in one of the residences of the Place des Vosges.
  • Lille (to the North) is amazing city unto itself, especially the city center. There is great shopping to be had there as well.
  • Don’t photograph everything you see that is amazing. For one, almost everything is amazing. Second, you’re there for the experience, not to record history.
  • Uber was a lifesaver.
  • No matter how delicious the local cheeses and meats are, you have little chance of getting those through customs.
  • Escargot (snails) is a delicacy.
  • Cat tongue is not cow tongue (bad googling). It is also not from a cat. It’s the center cut of the rump.
  • Rince Cochon is a great beer even if it translates to “pig rinse”.
  • The best waiter/waitress service, by far, was in Angelina’s in the Lourve. The food was excellent as well.
  • The French eat a hamburger with a knife and fork. Using your hands is considered disgusting. Put me down as a crude American in need of manners. Apologies, to my French associates.
  • Sitting outside at a little café with a plate of cheese and a bottle of red is one of life’s great pleasures.
  • There was no such thing as a bad bottle of red in France.
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~ by Genevieve on 2016.10.09.

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