I have a few more words about Paris starting with the myth that the French are not friendly toward tourists, especially Americans.
First, we found everyone in Paris to be supremely helpful and kind. Our first exposure to kindness was the taxi drivers in the cities. In my last post (Paris) I mentioned our first taxi driver’s extra effort to find the exact location of our keys. Then when Blair left the apartment and headed to the airport on Monday, the traffic at the departure drop off was a zoo. Her taxi driver (not Uber!) actually parked his car in the garage, helped her with her bags and got her all the way to an agent who could help her check in! WOW!!! I know she knows how to tip well for incredible service!
This isn’t technically about Paris, but it’s about France…And when we arrived in Nice, we had to again go to one location to pick up keys where we also had four large boxes from Amazon to load in the taxi then go to our apartment. Our driver, an older gentleman, “parked” (a loose term in a city), helped me get the boxes into his already packed car and then unloaded them for me at the door of our apartment. So lovely to have such kindness on our travels, especially when we are tired and cranky after a full day of (luxury) travel.
In Paris, Blair and I somehow found ourselves at the same gelato place every evening. The workers started recognizing us and after the initial phase of figuring out how to order, we were pros and they were friendly. One night there was a family in front of us who we thought were speaking French. They clearly didn’t understand the system and the worker behind the counter (with a obligatory French moustache) kept doing what we classically think of as the “French” thing…he kept rolling his eyes and saying in English, “I don’t understand you.” The dad, likely a tired vacationing dad with two small children kept repeating his order or questions (in French or some version of French) and turning to his wife pleading for help. They eventually got it all sorted out and the happy kids rolled off in their strollers with their gelatos. We popped next up with our “Deux classiques, si’l vous plaîs” like the professional French gelato eaters that we have become and we got a happy smile, a merci beaucoup, and an au revoir with our gelatos!
And it’s true, you do NOT enter any store without a “Bonjour” in that high, lilting voice and a “Merci beaucoup” as you leave. And don’t forget “Au, revoir” too! The French have been very welcoming and it’s a good thing because the Olympics are coming in 2024!
New topic – I don’t think I’ve mentioned the shopping or the stylish Parisian women and men. In the Marais and really throughout Paris, there are so many boutiques that really don’t have much inventory, but what they do have is beautiful and displayed so artistically. And there are so many cosmetic and “beauty” stores with such variety of brands and products. This was Blair’s area of expertise and I think she really enjoyed the bounty.
Of course, there is also the Galeries Lafayette. What an incredible building. When we first got there we were hungry so we found a lovely café on the bottom floor for a snack. Then we wandered throughout the store for a long time. Blair compared it to Nordstrom where it’s set up by designer, not by style or size or…There were two floors dedicated to cosmetics and we found out that they also have spa treatments available. We only know this because we were looking for the “toilette” and were told they were only for the spa customers, but the nice lady took pity on us and let us in with a key.
On one of the upper floors we found their “vintage” department. It was half of the entire floor and we spent a good amount of time digging through their very orderly displays. Blair was thrilled to find a couple great buys (501 cotton jeans?).
Of course we had to go upstairs to the rooftop for the view and as long as we were there why not get a bite to eat and have an Aperol Spritz? What a view and what a day! Loved it all. Except by the time we got home we were beat! We had walked there and then in the store for hours and then back to the apartment. I think it was a 10+ mile day.
And speaking of vintage…we found this little vintage store in our neighborhood that was packed with goods. Blair found more 501s and I found the CUTEST gingham dress! What fun to dig for treasure and be rewarded! Of course after that exhausting adventure we had to go to the café across the street for sustenance.
We also found Les Halles one day…on accident. It’s a big underground mall that would be similar to one at home. We just kept getting lost so when we figured out how to get out, we did! It was right near the Pompidou Center which is a really fun building.
Of course, all that getting lost meant we needed a café and Paris never disappoints! There’s always one right where you need it!
And what would Paris be without a trip to the Champs Elysées? Of course, we walked first to the Tuileries via the Louvre, then past the Place de la Concorde and all the way down the Champs Elysées. We were very underwhelmed by the CE. It was full of tourists and really felt just like a big strip mall with a few high end stores with long lines. Very disappointing. By the time we got to the Arc de Triomphe…
…we were exhausted so skipped the walk up the stairs and hailed a taxi home. And I just have to say…those taxi drivers are amazing. With my poor French I told him the address, “8 rue saintonge” which he translated to real French and then he drove us there with skill – dodging in and out of lanes, finding just the right streets and he knew where the one way streets were in our small little neighborhood on this random little no-big-deal- street. He must have been driving in Paris for a VERY long time!
Phew. I’m exhausted just remembering all of those shopping days! And I probably missed a few highlights, but you get the gist! Walk. Shop. Eat. Drink. Shop. Walk. Eat. Drink. Drop. Go out for a gelato. Repeat.
Mostly, I just want to say how grateful I am to have had such a special nine days with Blair. What a gift to get to experience that great city together. I also want to give a huge thank you to Glen who was not able to join us on our adventures, but who fully embraced our time together and found joy in hearing about our days. What a gift he gave us. I’m a lucky girl or white-haired old woman. Pick your description!