I know it’s been over a month since I returned from Paris, but I have more to say!! Spend about a week in foreign countries and you will come home with SO many thoughts. In this case, all of my thoughts did not fit in my three previous posts so I had to make a whole new posts with my random musings from this trip. I threw in a few travel tips too :). Enjoy!
One common thing I heard about Parisians is that they are RUDE. I did not find that to be true! While they were not overly friendly, no one seemed to be annoyed by our presence and when we needed assistance with something they obliged. I have heard horror stories about French waiters or staff being aghast at American requests and rudely rebuffing them. Some of our wait staff may have questioned our requests for ice etc, but they did not show their feelings to us. Maybe they are just more accustomed to the crazy American ways now!
Parisians really have the effortlessly chic look down! Everyone was dressed posh in dark colors and simple silhouettes. All of the women seemed to wear heels or some type of leather boot. From what I could tell, tennis shoes usually meant they were American like us. I note that it was effortless because there was not a lot of makeup, elaborate hair or nails.
Ask for the Check
Before leaving several blogs noted that in Paris you must ask your bartender for the check in order to pay your bill! Well this was true everywhere we ate. You asked for the check and then they would come over to your table with a portable credit card machine to swipe your card right in front of you (America do this!) They also really do not bother you much while you eat which is cool, but I am used to my water glass never being empty.
Okay I loved this enough that I want to note it. Everywhere we went, there were women confidently dining in packed restaurants alone. Can you imagine the looks a chick would get in America for that??? People would be like “oh she’s a lonely old spinster.” This seemed to be the norm there. Also since everywhere we went they PACKED us into the restaurant, you never really ate alone anyway. Someone was guaranteed to be sitting super close to you.
AeroMexico is a Great Airline
In my flight deal post, I mentioned that I flew AeroMexico there and AirFrance back. One would assume that the later would be better experience. Wrong! AeroMexico is operating brand new DreamBus planes for their TransAtlantic flights. This provided so many great features such as instant messenger system between passengers. They also had the best snacks even for our short flight from Houston to Mexico City. Oh and here is the best part. Alcohol is free on ALL of their flights so you can grab a glass of wine and kick back.
Attire for a Long Flight
I am no fashion blogger so this is not worthy of a separate post for me! Our travel time was about 15 hours so we made sure to dress in layers. I went with some comfy Old Navy leggings similar to these, a long soft t-shirt that I got free at work and a Mizzou hoodie because you GOTS to rep the home team when you travel! I also grabbed some fuzzy socks (yes they were Mizzou socks!), an infinity scarf and a pashmina in case I was cold on the plane. Our plane actually ended up being one of the warmest planes I have ever been on so thank goodness I layered!
Everyone says Americas tipping process for waitstaff is asinine and indicative of our failure to appropriately pay staff. So we came to France expecting to be shunned for tipping. This always seemed crazy to me because who does not like extra money?! One of our first waiters told us that tipping is not faux pas as some claim and if there is not a service charge added to the bill feel free to throw in a couple of extra bucks. He was an excellent waiter and may have been trying to line his pockets with our typical 20-25% tip. Still, we used his advice throughout the week and tipped when we thought we received excellent service. We also tipped our cab drivers as well.
Bathrooms in Paris were ummm… different. The bathrooms at every restaurant we went to were down a windy steep staircase leading to the basement. I assume they were added later to older buildings when public bathrooms became more common. Still, there are not a lot of public bathrooms around and many places refuse to let you use their bathroom if you are not a paying customer.
One night while away from our hotel, we are forced to use the public porta potty. It was free and larger than porta potties back at home, but had the same stench. Here is what is interesting, it is automated and cleans after each use. Well, my poor sister got stuck in the john during the cleaning cycle. The toilet disappeared into the wall and jets literally sprayed water throughout the thing! It was an experience to say the least.
Phone Service While There
We all went the cheap route and kept our phones on airplane mode the entire trip rather than paying for international service. We depended on Wifi at our hotel, restaurants and even some taxis. Since we had iPhones we were able to use facetime, facetime audio and iMessages to talk to folks. I may reconsider this in the future though. You forget how much you depend on your phone for maps and uber until you do not have it! Also, I think all of the regular messages that I received during that week on airplane mode went into technology purgatory because I never got them once I returned. My computer picked up a few, but my phone got nada.
One of the first things I noticed in Paris, was all of the smokers! Our first day there I stopped and wondered “Is there no surgeon general?! Why are masses of people in their 20s smoking?!” Smoking still seems to be posh and cool there, while in America we have worked to change the normalization of smoking. Just be prepared to encounter it on the street and in cafes. I hate smoking can’t you tell?
When you order tap water at Paris restaurants, they bring you glasses for the table and a glass bottle of water for refills, but no ice! This just tickled me because back home, this would be a travesty! One waiter had more experience with American tourists and brought us about three ice cubes each with our water. I appreciated his attempt 🙂
I mentioned this in an earlier post, but let me just reiterate they are not lying about the pickpockets in Paris. They are real and looking to take advantage of you! I also noticed they seemed to be on the hunt for Americans. I do not if we are perceived to be dumb travelers or just known for carrying a lot of cash. Either way, know that your American accent makes you a target. To be protect our goods, my aunts bought these under the shirt passport holders and wore them the whole time.
We all also carried cross body purses under our coats and always in front of us. Finally, a few of us brought backpacks to carry the souvenirs we purchased throughout the day. Since it was placed on our backs, we did not put anything valuable in those. Any pickpocket who got in there would have been disappointed with the Paris t-shirts!
Learning a few French Phrases
It is also incredibly humbling to be somewhere and not know the language. Whenever someone approached us in French, we immediately stopped and went “deer in headlights.” I appreciated that experience though and will be more understanding of folks here who do not speak English back at home. Not understanding the language is not indicative of your intelligence, it only means you do not know the language. This trip definitley reminded me of that fact!
They really care about American politics
We arrived just a few weeks after the election and trust we were asked about our thoughts on Trump several times in London and Paris. I know we are the most powerful country in the world and what happens here impacts everywhere, but I was surprised at how invested they were in our election. I encountered a couple of people who had feelings as strong as American citizens about it.
Thank y’all for enduring all of my travel posts! I feel like the old guy who rolls out slideshows of his vacations whenever company comes over :).
In case you missed the rest of the Paris Series, make sure you check them out here!