Last month we took the big family vacation to Paris. After selling Raindance last year we decided this was our "go nuts" vacation. But, life events overtook us so it got pushed until this summer.
Over the last few months we solicited ideas of what to see from everyone we knew. (Special thanks to the Charlie and Stephanie Wanek, Jim Lejeal, Marc Weiser). It seems a lot of people we know had been there more than once so there was a lot of good advice on what we should go do and see. In the end we found all the advice pretty overwhelming so we picked a few things each day that seemed to interest us and didn't try to see everything. For us this was the way to go as we hate running around everywhere not allowing ourselves to take in the experience. We saw a lot, did a lot, ate a lot, and learned a lot. Instead of trying to sum it all up in one post, I'm going to break it down into several. This is the first, kick-off post.. stay tuned for more in the coming days and weeks.
Of all the advice we got, the stuff I got from Paul Berberian, literally as we got on the airplane, seemed to be some of the most useful. The advice was pretty prescriptive but it really helped us in a few instances. This is list is about 20 one-liners but they seemed to come in quite handy… A partial list includes:
- For a kick ass tea – go to the George V (cinq) for tea – dinner is radically expensive
We stayed at this Hotel so it was easy to get this done. The tea was excellent, although I modified it to include a glass of wine. We did the dinner also, and although it was the most expensive dinner I have ever had, it was also the best.
- For the best and most expensive meal of your life go to Guy Savoy (pronounced Sav – wa) https://www.guysavoy.com/ and read Renee's review https://renee.berberian.com/display/ShowJournal?moduleId=59758¤tPage=2&categoryId=12026
This was also suggested by Brad Feld, unfortunately they were close all month for remodeling. (next time)
- Definitely buy a crepe on the street and some ice cream
In fact when we got home, we bought a crepe pan. First one ever.
- Avoid the cabs – take the metro – it's reliable cheap and fun – cabs get stuck in traffic and cost a lot – you can buy a carnet of tickets (booklet) to go on the metro and it is so easy to figure out
Only city in the world I have been to where the subway is fun. You can get anywhere in 15 minutes, and we never waited more than 3 minutes for any train in a week. Beware, if you are a Blackberry user, it will erase your subway pass if the two are on the same side of your body.
- The Louvre is cool and a must see so is Musee d'Osey
Need to spend more Louvre time next time, but Musee d'Osey is the absolute best (of what we got to).. Saw an excellent exhibit there on Vollard. More on this later.
- Don't take offense but most folks will not understand a word of your french(even if it is OK) but they will of your ladies – white american dudes don't get the respect – just dish out the cash and let the girls have fun.
You are right, my interpretation is that American men come on a little strong for the French. Fortunately I was traveling with three good looking women, so I had few issues.
- Tipping isn't customary but if the service is good add a few euros or points – if it says "service non compris" – you need to tip 10% "service compris" – not necessary (generally just leave the coins)
I think the French do this much better than the Americans. Just put the tip on the bill and be done with it. If you're going to places with bad service ask yourself "why?"
Paul had others but these were good things to just jump start you.. Thanks Paul.
In the end, the first 12 hours we were there were a little confusing and uncomfortable. After that, ironically, it became the most comfortable city I have spent time in. I can't wait to go back. In upcoming posts I'll talk more about the things that amazed and surprised. Very, very cool city.