Wear Birkenstocks, sneakers, or your choice of can-wear-all-day-sans-blisters footwear. The pavements are hard and the queues are lengthy.
Take a whole day for the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre. I did, and only saw about an eighth of the Louvre. But you can only do THAT MUCH museum, eh?
Try to find yourself two European art- history fanatics to be your guides through said- museums. They can sometimes be found at bars across from backpacker hostels (I’m just saying). If you don’t stumble upon any knowledgeable new friends, I would recommend those earphone gadgets that tell you about the artwork you’re viewing. For me, those stories bring art to life.
|Royalty at the Louvre|
Try to speak French to the locals. They can probably understand your English, but its much more fun for them to hear you ask for “tin of white wine”. And they do appreciate the effort.
|Myself and Roberto: an art- history fiend.|
However, don’t get sucked in by overly- gallant French men. I was walking peacefully down the road, and returned (rather too enthusiastically, I suppose) a ‘bonjour’ from a cyclist passing by. He stamped on his brakes, asked where I was going and then insisted on walking with me all the way to the station, “Ma Cheri”. Well now, I was just beginning to think that these Parisians are unfairly represented as rude and annoying. Then the gentleman walked all the way into the station with me, and with a dramatic gesture, parked his bicycle right in front of the ticket line. I thanked him, but didn’t manage to turn away in time to avoid his embrace, and apparent attempt at having a good snog. Now really. All I said was “bonjour” and “I am from
South Africa, is beautiful” and he figured he could make out with me in the ticket queue. Merde. Paris
Sunny skies is summer. What, are you an idiot? This is
Europe. Prepare for rain.
|Parisians at the park|
Leave your children at home. Except for a few colouring-in crayons at the Louvre etc,
doesn't seem to be a child- friendly place. It just seems unfair to drag little ones up and down those cobbled streets. And no, they do not care for the Manet exhibition, and are only going to annoy other people by trying to hide under display cases. Also, exhausted, they might throw a tantrum on the descent of the Arc de Triomphe, and refuse to advance ONE more step. This will cause a huge traffic build up and people above you who have claustrophobia and fear of heights will begin to use colourful language. Paris
|View (1) from the Arc de Triomphe|
Buy and up-to-date guide book, read it, and leave it at home, (unless it is very thin and light or you are Iron man). How I cursed my baggage of an annoying 2003 TimeOut that weighed me down like a packhorse.
Take advantage of your age… If you’re between the ages of 18- 25 you can get good discounts at most museums. Plus, if you’re an EU citizen of the same age, you get in for gratis, mahala, zilch, and save 10 Euro’s at big museums. That’s a lot of cash money. It’s 3 beers. Or 4 ‘café’s’ depending, I suppose, on how old you are.
|Scribbles on the back of a bathroom stall|
Don’t get off the train at Gare du Nord with a backpack and a large handbag and decide to walk up to the Sacre Coeur, down through Montmarte, past Pigalle, and the Opera House, to the Jardin de Tuileries, then up to the place de la Concorde, over the Seine and along to the Musee d’Orsay before deciding to take a train to your distant hostel/hotel. Just don’t.
|It looks close, but it is far, far away.|
Drink your coffee black. Just ask for ‘un Café’. That is what my
trip tasted like. Paris
Powerful, stark. Unadulterated.