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.
Bonjour mes amis! Hello my friends of Postcards From Paris!
In just under six weeks I will be winging my way across the planet to fly from Brisbane, Australia to Paris, France — magnifique!
I can’t wait to taste my first delicious croissant (or Pain au Chocolat!), see my friends, catch up with some of my Postcards from Paris followers, and make Paris my home for the next month :-)
The taste of the first baguette, first coffee, first time seeing the Eiffel Tower again — these and many others are what I crave when I’m not on Parisian soil, and I will savour each and every one of them.
If you haven’t had a look at my Paris Adventures yet, you might be interested to see the new ones I’ve added this year — I’m sharing my love of some unusual things and I do hope those that sign up for them will enjoy them as much as I do :-)
Want to meet me in Paris? Check out these dates and let’s catch up!
1 – 00:05 – Jardin alpin
Nestled in the heart of the Jardin des Plantes, the Alpine garden includes more than 2,000 mountain plant species .
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/ngNvu
2 – 00:15 – square des peupliers
This small private street ( no cars ) created in 1926 is an exquisite romantic and green place to take photos for a fashion shooting for example
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/qC1kU
3 – 00:25 – Terasse de l I.M.A
The Arab World Institute (IMA) is a Parisian cultural institute dedicated to the Arab world.
You can go for free on the rooftop and have an incredible view
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/zP50L
4 – 00:35 – les Passages Couverts
Real covered galleries in the middle of buildings and generally housing shops , Secret Parisian walkways are an architectural curiosity full of charm.
5 – 00:44 – Panthéon Boudique
The giant bamboos and stone slabs make of the Garden of the Buddhist Pantheon one of the most zen secret place of the capital .
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/LCp09
6 – 00:55 – Collèges des Bernardins
The collège was used until the French Revolution as a residence for Cistercian monks students at the University of Paris.
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/5VAg9
7 – 01:03 – Hôtel Dieu
Hotel-Dieu de Paris is the oldest hospital in the capital.
You can enter for free and climb at the last level to have a view over notre dame … but please be respectful of the people resting inside, it’s still an hospital.
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/yxK9T
8 – 01:13 La Petite Ceinture
The little belt railway was a Parisian railway that, from 1852, was a circular connection between Paris’s main railway stations. In a partial state of abandonment since 1934. Many French railway enthusiasts and associations would like to see the abandoned railway and its remaining stations preserved and protected as a part of France’s national heritage.
Map : this place is all around Paris, and it’s forbiden to enter so i will not give the information but if you really want to go just look on internet for « accès petite centure »
9 – 01:24 Jardin d’Agronomie Tropical
The Garden of Tropical Agriculture is in northeastern edge of the Bois de Vincennes. there you can find a half-wild nature and remnants buildings of the French colonial era sometimes half covered by vegetation.
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/eVXEb
10 – 01:34 Design & Nature
The Design and Nature gallery specialises in the creation of stuffed animals, in entomology (the science of butterflies and insects) and in osteology, as well as in the presentation of organic and vegetal species.
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/Py8v8
My first print book to be published on Amazon will be ‘live’ in August, maybe even as little as a week away!
I’ve talked about it over the past year, published a short Kindle book on Paris last year, but now I’ve finally finished my 42 page “Memories of Paris” book based on a selection of my photos which I’ve turned into watercolour paintings.
I’m just waiting for the first ‘proof’ copy to arrive in the post for me to approve, then it’ll be available to the public — I can’t express how happy this makes me, I’ll be a published author sharing pix of my most favourite city in the world.
Because of my love of Paris, I created this website 8 years ago, and I’ve met the most amazing warm and funny folks through this site, people who send emails, tweets, Facebook messages, audio messages, Youtube and video messages — it is so lovely to share my love of Paris with others — thank you to each and every one of you! I’ll keep you posted and send a quick update when it’s on Amazon – woohoo!
What’s on when in Paris in August?
visit the BEACH in Paris! Yes, that’s right! “Paris Plage“!
July and August are traditionally the hottest months, and many Parisians take off for the whole of August to be closer to the seaside and cooler weather. By deciding to be there for September, I’ll be visiting at a lovely time of year, still summer but not too hot …
“Dear Teena, I am very concerned about the things I’ve read about the crime and pickpockets in Paris. Do you have any recommendations to try and avoid being victimized? Also we are taking the train in from Brussels. We get in at 10:30am but can’t check in our hotel until 2pm. Would it be safe to store our luggage in a locker or would we be better off going to our hotel with our luggage? I’m really nervous about having my stuff stolen. K”
Your questions are all good and relevant — I suggest contacting your hotel and ask if you can bring your bags there first, most hotels have a secure storage area for arriving and departing guests. That way you know they’ll be safe and then you only have one place to go back to after your first adventure.
In regard to pickpockets, don’t wear anything on your back as that makes it easy in a crowd for someone to access your backpack while you’re being jostled. Generally Paris is extremely safe and if you stick with other people as you walk you should be very safe. When you’re eating or drinking, don’t leave your wallet, handbag or smartphone on the table or bar, as that makes them easy targets. If you have a handbag or shoulder bag, wear it or carry it in front of you so you can always see it.
Using your smart phone or camera, take photos of your passport’s relevant pages, and all cards in your wallet (backs and fronts) — upload them to secure storage like Dropbox.com for free, so you can access them easily from anywhere.
I love to see Paris from the water each time I arrive after my trip from Australia (where I live), so I take a 2.5 hr barge cruise for about $US30 (either morning or afternoon), and also I love the Champagne cruise at sunset to see the skyline, Eiffel Tower etc at night – beautiful! Here are links on my website for both of these:
A bit more expensive at about $80, but such a fabulous thing to do!
Apart from that, I just love to stroll the streets, sit in sidewalk cafes and restaurants, go to wine bars at night and meet the locals. With only two days, there’s a chance you’ll try to see TOO MANY tourist attractions so my advice is — don’t. Only see one or two max, and spend the rest of the time being part of the Parisian culture.
I hope you have a simply marvellous time, do let me know how you get on!
Q & A • Question from Facebook
“BonSoir! Love your fabulous blog and spicy ideas! I’m about to move to Paris again soon and i would like to find a job, if you know something feel free to let me know. Love and Happiness all over Merci :)))”
I live in Australia, and visit Paris each year or two, so I’m sorry I don’t personally know of any jobs for you right now — it will of course depend on many things — your age and your nationality (under 30s from some countries can work for a year), as well as whether or not you can work legally in France. But don’t despair!
“Most of the Americans, Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders living and working in France fall into one of three categories:
They are married to a French (or another national of the European Union) citizen.
They inherited dual citizenship from their parents.
They are highly-skilled professionals sent to their company’s French office to achieve a specific task. France currently has working holiday agreements whereby Canadian, Australian and New Zealander citizens aged between 18 and 30 years can undertake paid employment for up to one year.”
Doesn’t sound promising, does it?
I have written a blog post or two about jobs, so here are a couple of pages I’ve written which might help:
research and book my flights a couple of months in advance if possible
research accommodation (I like to rent an entire apartment, so a studio apartment is perfect)
check out Google maps for the address where I’ll be staying, search for things “close by” like cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, Metro stops, bus stops (I may even print off a page or two from the map so I have it with me for me first day in the new location)
organise a mobile phone — I bought one just to use in Paris about 5 years ago, so I take it with me, plug it in as soon as I arrive at my accommodation so it’ll be charging straight away; find a place to buy a “recharge” for the phone so I can start using it (generally Tabacs are a good place to start, or you can also find a store for the brand of phone card you’re looking for)
book a pick-up from the airport to your hotel, which can be done online, print the receipt and have it in your wallet for when you land in Paris; call the toll-free number once you’ve collected your bag, and tell the operator which Terminal you’re at (there should be signs everywhere); now it’s a waiting game until you mini van arrives. If this all sounds too slow, grab a taxi instead.
before I get on the plane to leave Australia, I turn off “roaming” on my iPhone (mobile phone) so I won’t be socked with a huge bill on my return to Australia, (a) I will still be able to use my smart phone to access the internet whenever I am in a wifi (pronounced “wee-fee” in French) zone (see how easy it is to do this in Paris) just by walking into any park or government building, (b) I’ll be able to make calls and send texts all over the planet for free by using the VIBER APP in a wifi zone when I’m out and about (I love love love this app!), (c) I also downloaded Viber onto my laptop, so I can type messages and make/receive phone calls via my computer when I’m back at the apartment
once I’ve arrived, I take a photo of my building from the street (if it’s the first time I’ve been there), then I take a photo at the corner of the street so it’ll be easy to recognise on my way back; if I then take a bus or the Metro (train) I take photos of the bus stop or Metro sign so I can remember HOW to get back home later that day
after my first Parisian breakfast in a cafe, I head to the nearest Metro (train station) and buy a “carnet” of tickets (pronounced KAH-NAY) — ten tickets is a good place to start unless I want to get a monthly ticket. More info will be available at the Metro so read and work out which is best for your needs.
next I like to visit the nearest Post Office to buy some stamps, so that when I’m whiling away the hours people-watching in a cafe I’ll have some stamps to put on those postcards I’ve just purchased.
Here’s a little video I made about PLANNING A TRIP TO PARS :
All of this gets me into my “Frenchified Teena” mode :-)
Do you have anything you do when you first arrive in Paris (if you’ve already been), or something you’d LOVE to do if you visit in the future? I’d love to hear from you — if you received my Postcards from Paris newsletter via email, just click REPLY. If you’re reading this on my website, just post a Comment below :-)
Would you like to recommend any cafes or restaurants, or things for me to do? Feel free to share! One of my long time readers – Michael (from USA) – has sent me some wonderful suggestions and restaurants to check out, as have a couple of other folks, so do please send them along!
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!