Paris 101.

29 Oct

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As you people know (or not) I’m leaving Paris a lot sooner than I initially planned, 8 months sooner to be exact. I’ve been here for 2 months so officially and legally I’m still a tourist, but that word really insults me because I definitively don’t consider myself one. I don’t think I’m parisian either, but I think I’m a lot closer to that term. I’ve lived in a Parisian household, eaten their typical strange groceries, walked their non-touristy streets, gotten to know the metro system like the back of my hand, found myself dressing like them without even noticing, and gotten to hate tourists passionately. I now enjoy their ‘tough on the teeth’ baguettes, I communicate myself without big difficulty, and I give directions to strangers when they ask. I’ve learned a lot of stuff in my short (or long?) stay in Paris that other tourists would never learn being here for a week, and for having that knowledge I feel the obligation and responsibility to share it with the rest of the world.

So this is my “Paris 101” for anyone who ever comes visit. It will assure that you’ll be a far wiser tourist than the rest:

  • French clichés are true but you won’t see them as a tourist walking down the popular streets.
  • Beware of pickpockets at all time.
  • Don’t be afraid of the metro, it is quite simple and far cheaper than taxis.
  • Gypsies are not nice like in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, run away from them as fast as you can.
  • There are far better places to shop and eat than at Champs – Elysées
  • A good meal is guaranteed at any small bistro in any street.
  • Ladurée macarons are expensive but worth every single cent.
  • If you want a good crepe Montmartre has some really good places.
  • If a woman (any age) approaches you with a list on her hand and asks “do you speak english?” say no and walk away as fast as you can.
  • If someone offers to make you a bracelet also walk away as fast as you can.
  • If a creepy guy approaches you pretend he doesn’t exist, don’t talk to him even if it’s for rejecting him, he won’t stop talking to you.
  • You can never wear too much black.
  • Watch out for dog poop.
  • Avoid stepping on “water” on the street unless you’re 10000% sure it is indeed water, big chances are it will be pee.
  • The Velib system is an awesome and very cheap way to transport yourself and get to know the city.
  • The Monalisa is disappointing.
  • Avoid Mc Donalds, eat some real french food.
  • French baguettes are really different than you’ll expect them to be, embrace it.
  • Paris beggars are really clever, they all look like they are starving and about to die of hunger, all of them.
  • Amorino ice cream is the best (caramello, cocco, and speculoos are highly recommended).
  • La Tour Montparnasse has a better view that the Eiffel Tower.
  • Don’t buy bottles of water in restaurants, ask for tap water.
  • Kebabs are great in the St. Germain area.
  • A picnic under the Eiffel Tower is highly recommended.
  • The “Paris Pratique par Arrondissement” map is AWE SOME.
  • The rooftop of Galleries Lafayette offers a really nice, free view of the city.

I could go on and on with this list but I eventually have to stop. This is the best advice that I can offer to all the lovely people who is remotely interested. I promise it will be helpful and I certainly wish I would have known all of these when I first got to Paris.

– J

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