Monday, July 22

Our Wonderful Trip to Europe -But Don't Repeat the Mistake We Made in Paris!

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We recently returned from three MARVELOUS weeks in Europe! Over the next little while, I'll be sharing our adventures with you {as well as some of the things we learned}. We chose to plan our own trip because we couldn't picture ourselves on a tour bus with a bunch of other tourists. Whenever possible, I'll explore the myths & stereotypes that I've always heard & if they are true or not. I'm going to be honest about our opinions & experiences - in doing so, I hope I don't offend anyone. 

In this post, I'll share a very important safety tip that we didn't know about - so you don't repeat our mistake. Hope you enjoy as we reminisce. . . 

We began & ended our trip in Paris. {Delta offers a direct 10 hour flight from our city, so it was a great place to start.}
I've dreamed of seeing Paris my whole life! I studied some French in high school, but remembered very little of it while on vacation. I had read - and it is true - that most people in Paris do speak English. We just made an effort to learn a few phrases to let them know that our French stinks is a little rusty, & they were really kind to help us. 



Luxembourg Garden
Lunch at Pavillon de la Fontaine - Jardin du Luxembourg

I'll admit I was disappointed with the cleanliness of the city. Some areas had a lot of litter plus cigarette butts are everywhere. {And, courtesy of the extensive smoking, fresh air is hard to come by!} Free public restrooms {"toilettes"} are hard to come by & when you do find them they are dirty & they reek!

We stayed in two hotels & we really liked both: the first was The Hotel Libertel in the Gare Du Nord area. {This area didn't feel as safe as the part of town that the other hotel was in.} But the room was clean {though not fancy}, there was a nice continental breakfast, & the staff was really helpful & friendly.
Lobby of the Hotel Libertel
The second hotel was The Relais Medicis in the Luxembourg Garden area of Paris & it was very expensive, but very nice. We loved it. 
Lobby of the Relias Medicis Hotel
I love doors & keys {more about that in future posts}. Look at our pretty door & key at this hotel . . . 

Sights we visited: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, The Conciergerie, The Louvre, Luxembourg Garden, Sainte-Chapelle, The Seine River & Notre Dame. 
The Conciergerie was one of my favorites - mostly because I'm so interested in Marie Antoinette & she was imprisoned there. 
-A replica of Marie Antoinette's cell - complete with the actual rug that was in it 
And, of course, who wouldn't love The Louvre! It was overwhelming & wonderful. Seeing the Mona Lisa was such a thrill, but she's popular! In the video below, I panned around the room to show you what it's really like to try to get close to Mona.



Honey & I also enjoyed putting a love lock on one of the Seine River bridges & throwing away the key . . . 
Myths & Stereotypes:  1) The French aren't fat - TRUE! They are the best looking people. They dress so beautifully. {I felt like a "Bella" in a city full of vampires!} The women even ride their bicycles & motor scooters in their dresses, skirts, & pretty shoes! 2) The French wear thin, horizontal stripes - TRUE! 3) The French are snobby - FALSE! I thought the people are much nicer than you hear about, but they are more formal than Americans are used to. If you understand that, you aren't offended when they don't look you in the eye & smile as you walk by them on the street. 
SAFETY: As we traveled around, we tried to keep safety in mind. This city is notorious for pickpocketing. We carried our money, passports & credit cards in travel wallets - or kept them in our room safe. Our travel wallets had protection against RFID scanners. My advice is to google pickpocketing schemes to see all the ways unsavory people can try to get to you. We did have several people approach us & try. But, luckily, had nothing taken.
This sign was at the Louvre Museum
The mistake we made: The second time we flew in to Paris, it was late at night. We didn't want to take the subway, so we decided to splurge & take a taxi. We saw a sign in the airport warning against unauthorized taxis. In order to catch a real taxi, we were to exit door 24. As we headed for the door, we were approached by a man who offered his services as a taxi. We declined & continued on our way. As soon as we exited the proper door. We were approached by a man who offered us his "taxi" in a huge rush. {Unlike other big cities I've visited the cabs aren't yellow, etc. they are all regular cars with a "taxi" sign on top.} He was quickly loading our bags when an airport security man came outside & saw him. When they locked eyes, the "taxi driver" literally threw our bags on the street, jumped in his car & sped away. The security guy told us not to go with him because he was a "robber". Wow.  When we googled "fake taxis in Paris", we learned that some of them just charge a lot more than they are supposed to. Either way, we felt fortunate to have escaped a potentially unpleasant or dangerious situation. Our advice: make sure to exit the proper door, then turn right - looking for the taxi sign & the line where the drivers are checked before they can accept a fare.

Want to read more about our adventures?

6 comments:

  1. Excellent - glad to read your post about Paris. I was there a few days in March (and also for a few days 13 years ago). I agree with your comments about myths. The French are more formal than Americans, but can be very warm once you can get past the formality. Attempting to use their beautiful language is one way to do it.
    Thanks for the post, and bringing back the memories.

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    1. Thank you, Tom, for stopping by & taking the time to leave your thoughtful comment.

      Warmly, Michelle

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  2. What fun, Michelle! We haven't been for about 10 years, your post brought back great memories!

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    1. Hi Pam, I'll bet your stylish self fit right in alongside the Parisians! I popped over to Simple Details & had so much fun catching up on all you've been doing. You're one of my favs!

      Warmly, Michelle

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  3. I love reading your behind the scenes insider tips! It is a dream of mine to visit Europe one day...still saving my pennies! :-)

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    1. Thank you Em. I hope you make it to Europe!

      Warmly, Michelle

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I read each comment & enjoy hearing from you. Thanks for taking the time!