(First, I apologize for the inconsistency with the font size and type. Something is wonky with blogger right now and as many times as I adjust it, it keeps screwing up. Hopefully, it rights itself very soon)
Outside Notre Dame. It was as chilly as it looks
My BF and I just got back from our very first trip to Paris from America. While I was enjoying the everything around me, I kept thinking in the back of my head what I would tell someone if it was their first time going to Paris. Mainly because there were quite a few things that surprised me.
Before I launch into my listicle let me clarify a couple of things: I only visited Paris proper and Disneyland Paris. If the suburbs or the South of France is much different, it won’t be listed here.
Also, we went in the off-season – not a lot of tourists and it was CHILLY!
1 - Bonjour
1 - Bonjour
Always always, always say hello first. ALWAYS. The rumor that people from Paris are
rude is totally untrue. They are incredibly polite. They expect you to be polite too.
At any time when you need help, directions, a place to sit, even if they are expecting you,
always begin the conversation with ‘Bonjour’ ALWAYS!! You will get even more brownie
points if you say, ‘bonjour, excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais?’ More than once I got a
genuine ‘Thank you, yes’ in return.
Chances are they do speak English, just don’t assume. Please, don’t be THAT guy.
2 - Les Enfants
Toddlers do whatever they please. In the exact opposite of helicopter parenting European parents let their kids go, do, run, climb, and hit anything and everything. They climb over fences and onto boulders, up street lamps, more than once I saw a child running full-bore while pushing a stroller obstructing its view. On the other hand, I also saw kids full-on bite it in the streets and fall off of walls, dust themselves off and just keep going with no tears. God help the child that actually hurts themselves in the process of Tarzaning down a flight of stairs – because I saw that too. That is when the parents get involved and basically tell them ‘that’s what you get for fucking around! Now pull yourself together’.
3 – Les Poochies
Dogs are incredibly well behaved. Parisians love their dogs and most are off leash. I did not see one dog stray away from their owner even when I did my kissy sound that usually gets a dogs attention. Not even a glance away from their owner – impressive. Keep in mind while walking the streets to occasionally look down. They may train them well, but they don’t always clean up their poop.
Actual steps in Notre Dame..ooohh
4 – Training For Vacation
Be prepared to walk a great deal. I trained for this vacation and my heart wasn’t
prepared for all the steps in Notre Dame. We walked an average of 12 miles every day.
That’s a buck and change less than a half marathon – every day for 10 days.
There are stairs everywhere and there are no elevators. Okay, so there are elevators to
the top of the Eiffel Tower, but that’s pretty much it.
Think about it - Notre Dame construction began in 1163, that’s 329 years before
Columbus invaded America. They didn’t retrofit it with elevators.
Even their metro signs are beautiful
5 – The Metro
The metro and the RER. I’m from Los Angeles, I drive my car. I don’t know the metro here,
or anywhere. Every time I read about the Paris metro and the RER I took away
‘it’s easy’ and ‘there are pick pockets’. Needless to say, I was sure I was going
to get lost and robbed. Neither happened. There are maps everywhere, and it’s
so easy to follow. We knew that we were only going to ride the train a couple of times
so we bought a book of 10 and spilt it – it’s good for both the RER and the metro.
Just prepare yourself and you’ll be fine.
For the Disney fans (of which I am one), we went to Disneyland Paris (DLP)
and stayed for a few days on property. Above numbers 1 and 2 carry over to this next bit,
but there are some new ones.
There's a dragon under that castle - A DRAGON!
6 – Beautiful DLP
Disneyland Paris is the most beautiful park. Granted, I’ve only been to the US parks
- passholder at DL and been to WDW a couple of times – so I can’t say anything about
Tokyo, Hong Kong or Shanghai. But holy cow the theming of DLP is gorgeous!
And their rides are better too! Big Thunder and Space are crazytown awesome.
Some rides are a wash, like Pirates and Peter Pan, but they have a dragon under their castle!
AND you can climb the castle! The second park, Walt Disney Studios is on its way.
Crush’s Coaster and Ratatouille are great but they don’t have a lot of attractions right now.
According to Disney news that will be changing soon.
7 – Dining Reservations? Heck Yeah
You absolutely must get dining reservations ahead of time. They don’t have the online
reservation available right now and you have to call to make a reservation, but we found
out the hard way that you need to if you want to eat in a sit-down restaurant. It isn’t so
much to reserve your table because it’s busy – you need one to get in - period.
We batted eyelashes and went through the hotel concierge to get the tables we got,
but we didn’t get all the ones we wanted. And speaking of the restaurants…..
8 – The Food
We had two dinners in the hotels and two in the parks. The two in the hotels were
exceptional (California Grill and the Yacht Club). Fantastic food and wonderful service
– across the board. In the parks is a different story. Both places the food was fine,
but the service was atrocious. One restaurant we were sure our waiter got fired after
bringing our drinks because we literally did not see him again – at all. The other one
it was 45 minutes between everything not even walking by! I understand French servers
don’t hover but sometimes I want a refill on my wine.
This way to secret V.I.P. fanciness
9 – Castle Club
If you’re contemplating upgrading to a club level in the on-site hotels, holy crap, do it!
My wonderful boyfriend, while checking us into the Disneyland hotel, upgraded us to the
‘Castle Club’. Worth every godamn penny. Breakfast every morning
(besides Starbucks or a buffet, early morning café isn’t easy to come by), tea every
afternoon, awesome view of the castle and its fireworks (at DLPH), VIP fastpass
(meaning, we didn’t have to go through the kiosk we just showed our pass at the FP
entrance and they let us on – unlimited) and our own concierge and they were awesome!!
It was NIIIIICE!
10 – Photo Pass? Maybe Not.
If you’re thinking about getting photopass, maybe skip that. If you have children
and plan on doing several meet and greets – sure, that will be fine. We get memory
maker when we go to WDW and stop at every roaming photographer in the park.
We utilized the shit out of that thing and get our money’s worth. At DLP – and this is
what surprised me more than anything – there are no roaming photographers, none.
Not one. Not in front of the castle, not in front of ‘photo places’, not even when we were
having breakfast and Mickey walked in. Maybe because it was off-season, but we saw not
one cast member with a camera. Unless you just want selfies, or want to ask a stranger
to take your picture, you aren’t going to get your whole party in every shot.
All you get are ride pics (and they aren't very good). It was really surprising.
After we got back from Paris something strange happened. I’ve gone through vacation
withdrawals before but this time it was different. I miss Paris like I lived there and miss
home and I was only there for a few days! That’s the closest I can come to describing
how I feel now. It’s feels unfair that it’s so far away and I envy the people who walk down
those tiny streets on a daily basis.
Such a beautiful site. I mean the tower, and me too!
If you ever get the chance to go to Paris, jump at it! Enjoy every moment of it, drink it all in.
Go see the tourist stuff, but give yourself the opportunity to sit and enjoy a glass of wine
in a small café and watch the rain fall.