It’s a beautiful day in Paris today! I’ll be heading out shortly for the wonderful Barge Cruise which I love to experience each time I’m in Paris — it takes 2.5 hours, and there is a choice of morning or afternoon, so I’ve decided on the 2:30pm Cruise to show my client another side of Paris in a leisurely, relaxed way – woohoo!
I’ve been having an amazing time with my client these past few days, she has flown half way round the world to be part of one of my Adventures, and we’ve been having the best time!
Coming to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language can feel like a very large, nervous step to take, but once you’re in Paris, you’ll find so many French people who will speak English withyou. that you’ll feel at home in no time :-)
If you use Facebook, you might like to pop over and see what I’ve been posting — photos and videos!
Great question! I usually visit in summer so I wasn’t sure how quickly it would turn to autumn, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised:
I have not worn a coat
I have worn scarves every day, and if I get too warm in a store or cafe, I simply remove the scarf
I have mostly worn one long-sleeve item each day, and I haven’t needed multiple layers of long sleeves … yet!
I have worn either short-sleeved or sleeveless tops under my long-sleeved top
temperatures have been around 18-20degC during the day
I have used my umbrella a few times, and it’s a very small fold-up one so it stays in a plastic bag inside my handbag; so if it’s wet, and I go into a cafe etc, I can put it in the plastic bag and NOT leave it behind when I leave :-)
“Teena, what’s different since the last time you were there?”
There’s a tram! It’s been here about two years and works around the outskirts (the “peripherique”/periphery) of Paris.
So many people want to speak English! Waiters, staff in stores, EVERYwhere! No more excuses about French people not speaking English, dust off your passport and suitcase and come on over :-)
In the past two weeks I have met so many kind, helpful, wonderful French people that it’s almost overwhelming! From taxi drivers (Bonjour Bernard!), to waiters and waitresses, sales people in stores of all kinds (Bonjour Ariella, Silvina, Marion, Warda!) , people on the street who answer my questions, a gorgeous woman I met at a bus stop when the buses were running hours late (because of a “manifestation” / public strike) who had a drink with me and my client while we all waited in a local cafe (BONJOUR CHRISTINE!)
There will be lots more things to add to this list, but that’ll do for a Sunday morning when I haven’t had coffee yet!
Here is one of my favourite travel videos to keep you smiling :-)
A fantastic in-flight one from Virgin:
I’m heading to the Barge Cruise very soon, so I’ll say AU REVOIR and CHEERIO for now :-)
I met a couple on the flight to Paris the other day, and the husband told me the one thing which bugged him about visiting Paris was “not being able to find toilets”.
I gave him a few tips — and thought I’d share them with you too :-)
How to find public toilets in Paris
Here are the easiest ways:
find a McDonalds, go in and try the door – if it needs a code, ask for one
find a Starbucks, go in and try the door – if it needs a code, ask for one
look out for any number of public toilets to be found in the streets and parks of Paris, you may need coins to open the door
go into any cafe, bistro, brasserie and look for a toilet, or a set of stairs going down with a sign anywhere saying “Toilette”; if you can’t find one, ask to use the toilet in you most polite way — you may be asked to buy a drink, and say, “Of course — bien sur!“
if you still can’t find one, go into any shop and ask, “Ou se trouve les toilettes, s’il vous plait?” which means, “Where can I find the toilets, please?”
Lots of cafe and restaurant toilets do not have seats – do NOT freak out
I know, I know — this sounds awful — but really, let me explain.
There are millions of tourists in Paris every week, and they all need to find toilets.
We expect the toilets to be kept clean, and that requires a LOT of work on the part of the locals.
By using well-designed toilets which do NOT need seats, and are very comfortable, the need to keep cleaning smelly toilet seas has been removed.
You can easily wipe the toilet before you sit down, and please — understand this is NORMAL in Paris, so don’t be snotty or mean about it, just get used to it, OK? Great :-)
To all you folks from America and other places which don’t normally use the word “toilet” and instead use the word “bathroom”, you’ll need to start saying “toilette”.
If you ask for a “bathroom”, the French person may think you want to go home with them — and will understandably be a little wary of agreeing to this without actually knowing you :-)
Today I popped into a little patisserie/lunch bar in Rue Saint Maur in the 11th arrondissement, which is owned by chef Alain (who loves cats, hence the name “The Greedy Cat” / Le Chat Gourmand).
Everything is made fresh by Alain, from baguette sandwiches with delicious fillings, to home-made quiches, fresh salads (carrottes rapées = shredded carrot, epinards – spinach, etc), tasty pasta and much more).
If you’d like your quiche etc heated, not a problem.
The menu is a “Formule” (a “set menu”):
1 x dish, 1 x salad, 1 x dessert or drink = 9,00 €
The prices are very reasonable, the food is fresh and delicious — eat in, or take away — yum!
If you’re in the 11th on or near Rue Saint Maur, do pop in and say Teena sent you :-)
Alain is a charming guy with a great personality, singing along to great songs on the radio, dancing a bit when and if required, always welcomes you with a big smile and a friendly “Hello!” :-)
PS — ask for a Carte de Fidélité (a Loyalty Card) – after 10 purchases you get ONE MEAL FREE!
Cafe/Restaurant: Le Chat Gourmand (The Greedy Cat)
West Country Girl creperie is a local restaurant in Paris
There are so many great eateries in the 11th arrondissement, and I decided to try out this one for dinner.
In a little side street called Passage Saint-Ambroise, this is the only foodie place in the entire street, making it easy to find. The menu is small, but boasts all quality local ingredients, and it looked very warm and inviting.
If you’re nervous about speaking French, don’t be — the servers also speak English :-)
I ordered a mixed salad (which generally means a green salad of lettuces and a dressing) for €3.
For a main course, I decided to try the Champignon, Chevre et ciboulette crepe, which is a Mushroom, creamy Goat’s cheese and chives for around €8.
Normally crepes are served with cider, but this little resto has all kinds of alcohol available. I went with a traditional cider for €3 a glass, which was delicious — the choices were a sweet cider or a very, very dry one. After tasting the dry one, I opted for the more regular sweeter one – t turned out to be an excellent choice.
Everything was tasty, and perfect for a very light meal; you may need a few more crepes to fill you up for dinner :-)
Ambiance was great, lots of laughter from the guests, great music, terrific vibe. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit.
Today I was walking along Rue Saint-Maur and almost walked past this little café, but the blackboard sign outside made me want to go in :-)
The girls here are from Slovakia, Italy and Mexico, and offer gluten-free delights as treats or lunch (closed for dinner).
After chatting with the Barista to see how they make their coffees, I ordered a double-shot latte and was really, truly pleasantly surprised! Made with arabica beans, real fresh milk (not long-life milk like the average French cafe) and tasted great! Woohoo!
Do drop by and have a look if you’re in the area — their menu is fresh and sounds delicious.
Cafe: THANK YOU MY DEER
Located at: 112 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris
Open: 8:00am to 6:00pm
Update: 9 Sept 2015
I popped back to this café this morning for “P’tit Dej” (Petite Dejeuner = breakfast), where there’s a variety of gluten-free muffins and and cakes, home made granola, and eggs – yum!
Today I have been printing off my e-ticket to fly from Brisbane to Paris via Dubai, airport bus pick-up vouchers at both ends of the journey, access info for my rented apartment, sticky labels for the postcards and cards I’ll send to friends from gay Paree —
Only got time for a coffee or a cocktail? Get in touch and see what we can work out :-)
Q & A • Question about Paris September 2015
A question from Sylvia:
“Hi Teena, how long will it take for you to get to Paris this year?”
Excellent question, Sylvia! This year I decided to pay a bit more for my airline tickets in order to reduce the waiting time inbetween flights, and I’m so pleased!
In the past I’ve had layovers in Guangzhou (pronounced “Gwang-joe”, China), Abu Dhabi, Singapore and this time the layover will be in Dubai.
Some of those layovers have been horrendous, time-wise, facilities, and many other factors. In Abu Dhabi one year there were hundreds of us transit passengers who had to sit on the floor of the airport, in corridors, because the management refused to open the Translit Lounge until the flight was ready for boarding. Was it five hours, six or even seven? More? Thank heavens I’ve blocked the details from my brain, but take it from me — sitting on a floor for all those hours with so many rules and regulations about what we weren’t allowed to do, did NOT make for a fun time. Nerves were frayed, everyone was exhausted, we felt like cattle. Not a happy time.
Jumping forward to NOW, I am thrilled to say I will only have a 2 hour layover in Dubai, making the whole journey so much easier!
Here’s how it’ll work for me tonight:
catch a ferry to the mainland
airport bus pickup about 10pm, drive for about an hour to the airport
three and a half hours waiting for the flight to depart at 2:30am
fly to Dubai — 16.25 hours in the air
then a two hour layover
fly Dubai to Paris for 7.15 hours
45 minute wait for scheduled airport bus pick-up
about an hour to drive in Paris
total travelling time approximately 32 hours all up.
And THAT’S why I stay for 4 weeks — if it was only 10-15 hours away, I’d be flying to Paris ALL the time :-)
One of the very first things I love to do after arriving in Paris — generally AFTER I’ve had my first croissant :-) — is to take a barge cruise on the outskirts of the River Seine, to reacquaint myself with the outer suburbs and the fascinating history (as told by the Barge storyteller). For two and a half hours I soak up the Parisian atmosphere without having to plan anything — I wave to the folks on the banks and on the little bridges which go across the river in its narrower parts. When the barge navigates down the locks of different heights, it’s a great way to be reminded about nature. We then slowly venture UNDER Paris, and when we get to the bit under the Bastille monument (in the 4th arrondissement), I heave a sigh of ‘history’, remembering what happened here (storming of the Bastille).
I’m also remembering the wonderful years I spent living just a few steps from this majestic Paris icon. OK – that’s enough waxing lyrical :-)
Here’s a bit more about it, with some of my photos:
At the beginning of September 2015, a major overhaul of the Paris transport pass [Le Pass Navigo] will affect most locals and tourists — and change is good.
What are the Paris transport changes?
The Navigo transport pass:
Le Pass Navigo will now be one unique price for the entire five zones in Ile-de-France region, making it so easy for everyone.
The price for a Navigo pass covering all of these zones will be set at €70 a month or €770 a year, meaning all commuters in and around the capital will pay the same price.
The idea is to make it easier and cheaper for those living in areas outside Paris, with the hope they will leave their cars behind and jump on a train instead. An added bonus is that it could creating a more regional identity, rather than the ‘us and them’ division between Paris and the suburbs as which currently exists.
Someone travelling to Paris from Orly will pay the same as someone who only travels through the centre of Paris from the Eiffel Tower to the Pere Lachaise.
La Marseillaise is the famous Anthem sung by the French, and I love it — here are a couple of versions I hope you enjoy!
This first version is by the very talented Julien Neel, a Frenchman who creates his own Barbershop Quartet videos using himself in the singing roles — very creative, charmant (charming!) and delightful:
This second version was recommended to me buy a dear friend, Michael, and is a bit more traditional and beautiful too:
Lyrics and translation:
Allons enfants de la patrie
Arise children of the fatherland
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
The day of glory has arrived
Contre nous de la tyranie
Against us tyranny’s
L’étendard sanglant est levé !
Bloody standard is raised
Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes
Can you hear in the fields
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Howling fearsome soldiers?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
They are coming into our midst
Egorger nos fils et nos compagnes
To cut the throats of our sons and consorts
Aux armes citoyens ! Formez vos bataillons !
To arms citizens! Form your battalions!
Marchons, marchons ! Qu’un sang impur
March, march, let impure blood
Abreuve nos sillons
Water our furrows
I do hope you’ve enjoyed the French National Anthem
“La Marseillaise” is sung by two extraordinary singers — listening to these talented people is a great way to start your day :-) Have you found a great version you’d like to share? Let me know by email or on the A Night In Paris on Facebook page :-)
Finding Paris transport disabled and handicapped information is becoming easier. More businesses, stores, buildings are becoming aware this is an important feature to provide, and there are many business people who are willing and keen to comply.
Having said that, you may still experience challenges in all older buildings where it is impossible to change the structure and layout. So although Paris is not the most handicapped-friendly city in the world, there is a great move to change that in the coming years – the French are definitely trying to upgrade metro and other access wherever possible.
For more transport in Paris info and indepth notes on wheelchair rental and access to museums etc in Paris, please visit the Wheelchairs in Paris page.
Wheelchair/Handicap accessible Metro
Line 14, bus line 20 and some buses on the 91 line
Some SNCF trains, and RER lines A and B.
Book vehicles for handicapped/disabled travellers
There are now a few companies which provide transportation specifically for the disabled. Call 48 hours in advance to make your booking.
Aihrop – for adapted vehicles to and from airports call: 33 1 41 29 01 29
GiHP – for adapted transport within the city call: 33 1 33 41 83 15.
A very helpful site is http://www.access-able.com.
Look for the Tourisme et Handicap label, found in many places (more common now in Paris).
I did notice recently that there are a few Starbucks cafes with lifts/elevators and wheelchair-friendly toilets and restrooms.
My website about Paris is a labour of love, and sometimes I recommend things for which I receive a very small commission (sometimes 20c, 50c, $1). These small commissions help me pay for the hosting and upkeep of the site, so if you buy something, I’m sending you a big warm hearty “thank you” hug in advance!