Trip report: Mother/teen daughter
My daughter and I spent five nights in Paris in late June as a joint early 50th/16th birthday trip. We had a fabulous time and I put that down to the relatively relaxed pace we adopted, even though we had a short time in the city. We didn't want to try and do too much, didn't want to be rushing from one attraction to another, wanted to allow plenty of time for just 'being' in Paris. I think we definitely achieved this and have lovely memories of time spent together, laughing,shopping, walking, eating, watching, gallery-ing!
This was my 8th visit to Paris, a city I know pretty well having lived there for 2 years in my early twenties. Having said that, it's been ten years since I was last there & I was pleased to see how many things had not changed while also noticing changes, if that makes sense?! I have always stayed on the Left Bank but we decided to stay in Le Marais this time, an area I thought my daughter would enjoy, at the Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais. A great choice, both the area and the hotel (hotel reviewed separately).
A few general tips/comments:
* I was amazed at the extent to which english is now spoken in Paris! However, both my daughter and I were keen to practice our french and so even if we were spoken to in english, we answered as best we could in french (sadly my fluency is not what it once was but it is amazing what comes back to you) & then the conversation ensued in a mix of both languages. We also often asked for the french menu if we were given an english one in cafes/restaurants. Quite a few waiters seemed to really appreciate this and it lead to some great conversations. Of course, as is always noted on this forum, the bonjours/au revoirs on entering/leaving shops, cafes etc are a must & I feel it sets the tone for any future exchanges you have. We met and chatted with many Parisians who were the epitome of charm, helpfulness and good humour (my daughter referred to them as "babes", male and female). There was only one sour incident: a french lady pushed in front of me in a queue and then was mightily surprised when I reprimanded her in french. She stood her ground, insisting that I was in the wrong & tried to get the salesperson on her side. I let it go (i was on holidays, I didn't want the stress!) but was mollified when the sales guy later complimented me on my french!
*We caught taxis from/to CDG and were charged the correct set fare
*Our flight arrived from Australia at 2pm on Saturday 24 June and there was zero line at passport control. We were in the cab within 20 minutes of landing.
*We saw no evidence on pickpocketing/scamming except for some petition girls outside Palais Royal metro. We ignored, they let us be. I wore a cross body zipped bag. I was not above getting out my map on the street to check where we were going (to my daughter's embarrassment!).
*We caught metros (using carnets) and walked, day and night, and felt safe at all times. We caught one cab at the end of a long day.
*We loved how we could sit at a cafe table for as long as we wanted, left alone by wait staff unless we caught their attention for something. In Australia, the staff are constantly seeing if you want another coffee/drink/the bill, wanting to turn over the table as fast as possible.
*Do not underestimate the sheer pleasure of wandering the streets of Paris without a plan, without a check list.
*The only museums we visited were L'Orangerie, Rodin and The Cluny, all in the mornings, and at all there were zero lines or wait times to get in. Perhaps we got lucky or perhaps these museums aren't the big Must See ones? Again, though we both love art, we did not want our trip to be a check list of every gallery in the city. The Musee D'Orsay is one of my favourites but it really needs c.3 hours dedicated to it. I have never been to the Louvre and had a good experience: too big, too crowded. i can't look at art like that. I think the ones I chose to take my daughter to represented a nice mix of French art history.
*Food was very expensive, even at simple cafes. I was surprised.
*Honestly, French people are very chic. It's understated but it's there. People wear exercise clothes all day long in Australia (even when not going to the gym), are generally more casually dressed (sloppy??). My daughter and I enjoyed dressing nicely each day to go out into the city, while still being comfortable especially with footwear.
I'll continue the trip report in the comment section.