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What do you wish someone had told you?

Oregon
Level Contributor
613 posts
14 reviews
What do you wish someone had told you?

My husband and I are about to take our first trip to Paris in a few weeks. We currently live in the Netherlands and are fairly frequent travelers. I've been doing all my "homework" by researching and reading various posts here and in on other forums, but there are some things that can fall through the cracks. Plus I'm just plain curious and I find TA forumites to be some of the most generous and interesting folks around.

My question is this: for those of you who have already experienced Paris, what did you discover you wished someone had told you before your first trip? Did someone give you advice that you found particularly helpful or useful that you'd be willing to pass on? Anything from communicating, how to deal with scammers, public transport, public toilets, supermarket etiquette, restaurant behaviour, cultural "quirks" particular to Paris, how to generally not annoy the locals and be a good visitor etc. etc. etc.

My thanks to anyone who shares their thoughts on any of the above.

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2,099 replies to this topic
Memphis, TN
Level Contributor
339 posts
27 reviews
31. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

Unless you are an art history major there is nothing wrong with going to the Louvre & just seeing the highlights, many of which are around the Denon wing. Don't try to see it all, don't even try to walk it all over. If there are things you want to see (check their website to see examples if you are not sure what they have) make a list & check them off. Having said that, notice that there are chairs & couches in some of the large galleries. Find an open seat & spend some time looking at whatever art is before you, and people watch, too. Plan on two hours, then leave (unless you really want to look more).

The museum is open late, two nights I think? The last time I went the metro entrance had few people in line, while the courtyard entrance was a few hundred meters long. Also, afternoon entrance may be cheaper.

If I was going again it would be the Denon sculpture gallery (Eros and Psyche, the Slave, etc.), the gallerys with the large French and Italian paintings, Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and no further than Venus de Milo.

Philadelphia...
Level Contributor
355 posts
111 reviews
32. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

This is going to sound totally corny---but I wish I had been forewarned about how "homesick" for Paris and the rest of France I would be every time I leave. It gets worse with every visit. As I write this, I'm counting down the months to our next visit. Ten months!

Boston...
Level Contributor
12,881 posts
12 reviews
33. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

I'll go one step better than vwrabbit and say that there is no law that says you have to step one foot in the Louvre at all on your first trip. It took me at least ten trips to go, and then only because my traveling companions coerced me. I was ready to leave in half an hour. I thought I hated all museums, but realized that the Louvre is just too overwhelming. I love small museums you can wrap your head around.

Edited: 17 August 2011, 01:24
Paris 4th Arr
Level Contributor
7,257 posts
11 reviews
34. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

I'm pretty much with HappyGoin. I don't think I would devote any significant amount of time to the Louvre unless I had a passion for something specific in the collection. If you just want a picture of your spouse with the Mona Lisa in the background then I would be tempted to question your judgement on a short and expensive trip to Paris. I also agree about the smaller museums. The Rodin is a superb, intimate and beautiful museum without the crowds. It was the highlight of my first visit to Paris because there were no velvet ropes. It's a beautiful museum where the floors still creak as they did when Rodin lived there.

Portsmouth, England
Level Contributor
109 posts
21 reviews
35. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

What a fantastic thread! I'm headed to Paris for my first trip since being a tot and after browsing these posts I can't wait.

water
5 posts
36. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

We're going this winter - it's been more years than i can remember (that's what having children does!). Already I *know* that I want to downsize here in the states in a way so big that all I care about is a simple, small life here that gets me to Paris as often as possible. I cannot believe I just spent my "best" years acquiring STUFF, when I could have been living LIFE ... preferably in Paris. There's a sense of urgency now to straighten out my priorities. First big decision: I will never own a house again! What a trap. All I care about is being here in my New England town in a sweet little shack and there.

Edited: 17 August 2011, 04:10
water
5 posts
37. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

P.S. I wish I'd read this years ago, even tho I haven't been too far off the mark, thanks to my mum:

amazon.com/Parisian-Chic-Style-Guide-Fressan…

Kaua'i, HI
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
Level Contributor
17,990 posts
35 reviews
38. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

Aloha from Kaua'i!

I totally agree with the posters who said that on their first visits they wished they had known that they would be back to Paris so that they could take things a little slower and spent more time savoring Paris.

On my first visit last year I thought I would never see Paris again and so certainly did try to see everything that I wanted in 2 weeks (impossible of course!).....while we had a fabulous time and loved every minute of it.....if I had known I would be going back this year I would have no doubt been a little less frenetic about some things!

I'm so fortunate to be going back next month (wonderful husband!!)....and this time also we are going when (hopefully) it isn't 40 degrees farenheit (for us very, very cold indeed) as it was last year in March - so we will get a chance to savor the parks and the gardens and the beauty of Paris in the Fall!

Definitely planning on being a "Flaneur" this time as much as possible - and now I know that maybe even this second time to Paris - won't be my last time either!

BYW - love the "Minou" story.....got me misty eyed as well.....and yes, I can relate also!!

Malama Pono,

Janet

Paris, France
Level Contributor
26,123 posts
32 reviews
39. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

I wouldn't want to upset anybody here, but I knew wanted to live in Paris by the time I was 15, and I moved to Paris when I was 20, just one week after graduating from college. (It's nice to have a French passport.)

I've never regretted it, even though there were difficult moments. I continue to tell people who have fallen in love with the city and want to move here that it is possible. (Anything is possible if you want it that much.)

As long as I have been here, there are times when tears practically come to my eyes at sunset crossing the Pont Neuf or standing on boulevard des Batignolles at dawn and seeing the domes of Sacré Coeur glowing pink. My own neighborhood is nothing special, but I love to see the ethnic mix buying baguettes or all shopping together at my Chinese supermarket. I am anxiously awaiting, as I always do, the Ganesha elephant god procession in just two weeks, when the entire Hindu community will walk barefoot through the streets purified with saffron water, but we pink Parisians, and the Muslims wearing hijabs, and also the Africans in beautiful robes will all be accompanying them.

This might not be the same experience of going to Angelina or having pastry at Paul or eating a steak at the Relais de l'Entrecôte, but it is fully part of Paris and it is wonderful.

Kaua'i, HI
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
Level Contributor
17,990 posts
35 reviews
40. Re: What do you wish someone had told you?

Aloha from Kaua'i!

Great post "kerouac2" - it is true that it can be difficult to follow your "dream" of moving someplace you love (which I did also)........but ultimately so very worthwhile!

You obviously love Paris and have come to know her in ways that most of us will never have......which makes the fact that you still get misty eyed at times at the beauty around you even more special!

I love Paris and talk about it so much that many of my friends ask me if I'm going to move there.........but I love my island home that we worked so hard to move to and I'm content with loving Paris from afar and being privileged to visit her as my "special place".

The Ganesha procession sounds wonderful BYW!

Malama Pono,

Janet

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