photo by Panoramas
There are three types of women in the world.
The ones who have been to Paris and loved it, the ones who want to go so they can love it, and the ones who just aren't interested. Okay, I put that last category in there to round out the list, though honestly, have you ever met a woman who doesn't give a hoot about Paris?
I first visited as a nerdy 12-year-old on a school trip. My memories? I sat terrified on the Metro after hearing pickpocket horror tales, and some girls on the trip bought cigarettes. Next.
On the second round, I visited with an excellent friend on a university backpacking trip. Now we're talking. Wine by the Seine, goofy touristy photos, pastries every day, hours of walking and gawking.
Now, in my third visit, I've got more travel experience under my belt, and feeling quite at peace with the prospect of four days in Paris. I've traveled through language barriers! Typhoons! Communism! A military coup! If travel were a club, I feel as if I've earned a merit badge or two. And yet, as I roam around the city fifteen freakin years after my very first foray into travel, I feel the odd pang of outsider shame. Here are some mistakes I've been making. I should know better. Learn from me, friends.
1. On the Louvre's one and only Free Day of the month, get there early.
I'm not one of those people who look at the Louvre and say "psssht, overrated!" Unless you get super anxious in crowds, come on now, it's worth it to see the biggest art collection in the world, even if you get poked in the kidneys by wayward tripods trying to glimpse at the Mona Lisa.
But on Free Day? It's going to be busy. Who waits for two hours, standing exposed and vulnerable for that freak 5-minute hailstorm that fell upon Paris. Moi, that's who. Never again. Next time, I'm there before sunrise.
2. Bring a raincoat in April.
That song about Paris in the springtime is a bit misleading. It's sunshine and light for about 30 minutes a day, then back to cold and wet.
3. Don't seek out French food in the Latin Quarter
There's one pocket of streets right by the Seine that's restaurant after restaurant. Jackpot? Nope. They're all selling gyros. Gyros or fondue, which is closer to French cuisine, but still not on the mark. The good news is that you can find the odd crepe stand, and ohh oui oui, they're good.
4. When you're sitting elbow-to-elbow in a crowded cafe, don't start unfolding your tent-sized pocket map of Paris onto the table.
It bugs people.