Category Archives: Trip Report

First Time in Paris and Running the Paris Marathon, Episode 164

First Time in Paris and Running the Paris Marathon


First Time in Paris and Running the Paris Marathon, Mike and his wife at the Louvre

On today’s show you’ll hear from Mike Sheppard, his Paris Marathon experience and what it’s like to be in Paris for the first time. Mike is a seasoned runner, but this was his first time in Paris, so he noticed some important details that can help you make your own Paris Marathon experience a success!

Annie also goes on a mini rant about how some travel bloggers send unsuspecting visitors on silly wild goose chases, and she gives so me suggestions about what you can do for the Journées du Patrimoine happening Sept 16 and 17, 2017 all over France.

Recommended in this Episode

French Tip of the Week

“J’aime la France et j’aime penser à mon prochain voyage en France” (I love France and I love to think about my next trip to France).

Check out our upcoming Tours on Addicted to France.
What You Will Learn About in this Episode with Time-Stamps

[05:00] This was Mike Sheppard’s 10th Marathon, but he’s been involved in 150+ races. This was his first Marathon outside of the US.

[06:53] How much time did you spend in planning for this Marathon? About 1 year. It was Mike’s first time in France.

[07:44] Anything surprised you about the Marathon that you wish you knew before? It is a great race for first-time marathon runners because it is a great course. It is a first Marathon for 37% of the Paris Marathon runners.

[09:30] It’s a great 42+ kilometers tour of Paris. You see all the major sights and attractions of Paris: Eiffel Towers, you start on the Champs Elysées and Arc de Triomphe.

[10:45] When you first sign-up to do the race they ask you how long you think it’ll take you to complete the race and based on that they put you in different starting times, in different corrals. In Paris, the first starters get going at 8 AM whereas in the US it’s typically 6 AM.

[13:28] When do you start your race if you announce you’ll finish in 8 hours or something? You start in the way way back!

[13:59] The Paris Marathon also includes people who need adaptive technology, for instance a blind runner with a human guide or wheelchairs, etc. They start before the elite start.

[14:35] How the Paris Marathon Expo works. The Expo takes place at Porte de Versailles, Parc des Expositions. The RATP buses drop you off right in front of the expo. There are a lot of companies there selling clothing and nutrition items. There are a lot of Paris Marathon merchandise there. In Paris you don’t get the “free” Paris Marathon finisher shirt that you can only get after you pass the finish line.

[16:20] You MUST have the medical certificate filled out by your physician. If you don’t have it, you’re going to be out. Your doctor in the US will probably give you a whole physical. They will also ask for your passport. Bring as much photo ID as you can so you can get your bib to start the race. The Expo opens 3 days before race day.

[18:15] The porter-potty situation at the Paris Marathon. In the US, there are lots of porter-potties before you get into the corral. In Paris they put the porter potties inside the corral. This is great because there are fewer people inside the corral than outside.

[19:05] Everybody’s bib has their name and country. 70% of the runners are French, 3% from the USA. You will see more bibs from Germany and UK, etc. The ambiance is great, it’s a happy and fun time.

[21:20] How was security? Security seemed tight, but not so much that Mike felt worried. This happens at most big races.

[22:10] How was it as far as grabbing water or treats for sugar? There were things, but at a Marathon you don’t want to try something you’ve not tried before. There were sugar cubes, fruit, Vitel water. Drink the water before the marathon because it’s good to not be surprised. You may want to bring the stuff you’re used to. There are a lot of food and water stops.

[24:44] There are a lot of spectators for this race, 250,000 people come out to cheer you on. There are organizations along the sides in support of various causes and countries. They had one American section, people from Chicago. There is music everywhere. Drum groups, jazz groups, rock groups. There is music all along the course.

[26:20] Be aware that toilets are not as easy to find at the Paris Marathon as they are at other marathons. When you do see a toilet, use it because you may not see another one for a lot of miles. In some parts of the course there is forest and there were a lot of people, both men and women, relieving themselves in the forest.

[27:60] During the course there are photographers, sometimes there is a sign saying there is a photographer up ahead, remember to look up, pose, do whatever you want to do. Careful not to miss too many of them and put a little distance between you and other runners especially at the finish line.

[30:26] The shirts were a good deal at the Expo, around 25-30€ and if you got 2 you got one free.

[31:14] Tell us about the Finish Line! Going through the finish line is always wonderful. You get the Paris Marathon finisher medal. You’ll see various signs with different shirt sizes, you go to the size you want and you get the shirt. The drinks and food are after the shirts. This area was really congested. You finish at the Arc de Triomphe also, not far from where you started.

[33:20] The metro and buses in Paris are the best he’s ever seen. Efficient, clean (they’re not all like that!) It’s easy to use the Metro.

[34:00] What are some differences between this marathon and others you’ve run? The lack of toilets along the route was a negative, but having so many people from so many countries was great. You may not get your best marathon time because you won’t have a lot of space where you can take-off because there are so many people. It’s a crowded marathon.

[36:00] Tell us about some favorite things you enjoyed in Paris. Mike and his wife didn’t want to leave. The podcast helped (glad to hear that!) It’s important to get tickets that let you skip the line, the lines can be super long otherwise!

[38:50] Get your tickets before you come to France. It’s sometimes intimidating needing to decide what day and what time you want to go do something, but it’ll save you so much time once you’re there! Schedule 2 things for the day, the rest will fill up with coffee breaks and meals and shopping here and there.

[40:40] Bloggers and websites will make all sorts of recommendations for specific bakeries and restaurants, etc. Annie cautions against going a long distance just to go to a specific bakery. Guess what? In Paris there are fantastic bakeries everywhere! You don’t need to go to that one café where somebody famous was spotted! As you walk around Paris you will find good food everywhere! Asking where you can get the best yogurt in Paris is asking the wrong question because there is good yogurt in France period!

[45:35] Was it difficult for you to find food suitable to an athlete’s diet in Paris? No, it’s easy to find an Italian place and go have some pasta. Mike recommends the dinner cruise on Bâteaux Parisiens because the food was great there. Sometimes there weren’t sure what they were ordering, but it always worked out.

[48:30] Everybody was really friendly even though Mike and his wife don’t speak French. Saying “bonjour” goes a long way! Bonjour is the magic word in France. We say “bonjour” to bus drivers and everyone.

[49:41] If you say “hello” in the US the same way you do in France, people will wonder what you’re up to! In America you don’t say hello when you enter into an elevator, but in France you do!

[50:56] Hiring a private photographer in Paris was really nice. The photographer follows you around for 3 hours and they give you the SD card. The photographer does no editing, which saves them a lot of time. This was between 200 € and 300 € for the whole time.

[53:09] In Paris, it’s fun just looking at the cars that are going around. You see a lot of Smart cars and Citroën and Peugeot.

[54:35] The Paris Marathon a great for first-tme marathon runners. The average age is 41. Don’t be intimidated by the size of it. French people enjoy the ambiance at sports events. It’s fun to see everybody getting along.

[60:50] JeFile, the App you need to install to get a spot to walk up the Notre Dame Towers.

[63:15] List of new events on the occasion of the Journées du Patrimoine Sept 16 and 17, 2017. First time opening to the public this year are:

  • The Cour de Cassation near the Sainte Chapelle
  • The Paris Catholic Institute
  • The residence of the Mexican Ambassador in Paris as well as the Mexican Embassy
  • Maison Lancel
  • The Movie Studio called Porte des Lilas Cinema

Conclusion

As Mike points out so well in the episode, the Paris Marathon attracts a lot of runners, but it is a great choice for first-time marathon runners because the scenery is so beautiful, the ambiance is great, and it is appropriate for both competitive and “laid-back” marathon runners. Mike also says some really nice things both about the show and Paris in general, so it was a pleasure talking to him!

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First Time in Paris and Running the Paris Marathon, view from La Concorde

 

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France with Teenagers, Episode 159

France with Teenagers, Episode 159


France with Teenagers, Henry in his sister in front of Napoleon's tomb

Visiting France with your teenagers? On this episode Annie talks to Henry Calkins, a 13 year-old from Arizona who shares what he liked and didn’t like about his vacation in France. He’s got recommendations for your teens and what they can do to have a great time. His mother, Nancy Calkins also  talks about her favorite ice-cream place in Paris, just in time for the summer!

Places Mentioned in this Episode: Bayeux, Mont-Saint-Michel, Montrichard, Chenonceau, Cheverny, Paris, Senoble Ice Cream.

If you enjoyed this episode, also check out: Paris with Children, South-West of France with Children, Two Dads and a Child in Paris,  Visiting France with Children.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
What You Will Learn About in this Episode with Time-Stamps

4’20 What surprised you about France? It’s really clean and the architecture is amazing.

5’08 What all did you do on your trip to France? Landed in Paris and headed to Normandy first, then the Loire Valley, then Paris.

7’40 Of all of those things, what was your least favorite? Did you even like the museums? The Louvre wasn’t a favorite because it’s too big and takes too long. Loved the Orsay Museum.

9’22 Did you eat any strange foods in France? He loved the croissants, not a fan of osso-bucco. Didn’t get to try Orangina.

10’52 Did you see any strange-looking French people?  No, a few homeless people, but not too many. French kids are lucky because they have so many cool things to visit. Quality of life seems really good in France.

13’17 What is it like in Normandy for the D-Day celebrations?

14’32 Are there other parts of France you’d like to see? I’d like to see more of Paris and the South-West

15’20 Most people don’t think of Normandy as a place that’s cool for young people? How come you liked it so much?

16’38 What did you think of the Loire Valley?

18′ What advice would you give to kids and teens who come to France?  What are some good things to do before they come?

  • Read some history
  • Try some French food

20’15 Nancy’s favorite ice cream place in Paris: Senoble.

Conclusion

France is fun for people at every age. It was wonderful to talk to a young man who enjoys WWII history and made the most of his family vacation to broaden his horizons and quench his curiosity. Thanks for coming on the show Henry!

 

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Insider Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris, Episode 157

Insider Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris


Disneyland Paris, Debbie's family in front of the Disneyland Castle

This episode is a trip report with Debbie Raises who shares her insider tips for visiting Disneyland Paris. Debbie and her family live “close to the magic” and hour away from the Walt Disney World in Florida. They have a long history with Disney, she and her husband went on a Disney honeymoon, her husband works for Disney, and they know the parks inside and out. For today’s show she has prepared a list of tips you won’t want to miss to make your next trip to Disneyland Paris as successful as hers. Debbie and her family were at the resort for 3 and a half days in June 2017.

Hotels recommended in this episode: the Sequoia Lodge and the Vienna House Dream Castle at Disneyland Paris (one of the few places in France where you can get a basic room with 2 queen beds).

You should also listen to Tips for Using Uber in Paris

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 What You Will Learn About in this Episode

  • 2’45 Introduction
  • 4′ Why come to France? For Disneyland Paris!
  • 4’45 Should we stay at Disneyland Paris (DLP) the whole time or spend a few nights in the city of Paris? It’s a 45 minutes RER ride between DLP and Paris center, we recommend you choose a more central hotel in Paris.
  • 6:15 Is it easy to take the RER to Disneyland Paris? Yes, extremely!
  • 7′ Shall we take an Uber to go to Disneyland Paris? It’s a great choice if there are 3 or 4 of you.
  • 8′ Do you mostly travel to Disney? What other types of trips do you do?
  • 10′ The 4 days you spent in Paris, what did you visit?  They went to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame, and took a day trip to Versailles
  • 10’45 Sunset is late in France in the summer.
  • 11’30 What are similarities and differences between Disneyland Paris and other parks you’ve visited.
    • For the most part, it is the same.
    • The Disneyland Paris Fast-Pass system is different: the time window is shorter than in other parks.
    • Main Street USA is cobblestone, which is cool!
    • The Liberty Arcade is an area that runs along Main Street USA and it’s a good place to get out of the sun or rain or shop on your way out of the park.
  • 16′ Did most cast members speak good English? Yes, they knew how to talk about their area of expertise for sure, some knew a lot more. The maps are also in all sorts of languages, including English.
  • 18’20 Disneyland Paris feels really safe because everyone has to go through a metal detector and a bag check. Unlike the center of Paris, there are no pick-pockets, the premises are watched closely.
  • 20’16 Tell us about Disneyland village.
  • 20’33 The rides at Disneyland Paris are more thrill rides: Hyperspace Mountain goes upside down. The Indiana Jones ride also goes upside down. The Big Thunder ride is also more thrilling. That’s because Europeans like more of a thrill park. At Disney World there are thrill rides, but they are spread around four parks.
  • 22’40 Disneyland Paris is missing a couple of old attractions: no Tikkie Bird, no Jungle Cruise. There aren’t enough indoors attractions where it’s air-conditioned.
  • 24′ There is also a Studios park, it was a little bit disappointing to Debbie and her family. They have to Rock-and-Roller coaster, the Tower of Terror. The Crush coaster was great there, and the new Ratatouille ride. Ratatouille is a high tech ride that they don’t have yet in other parks.
  • 25’22 Description of the Ratatouille Ride. The whole area is themed like Paris. This ride is unique to France, so is Crush coaster.
  • 27′ Attendance in June was moderate, Debbie thought it would be quieter because French kids weren’t out of school yet, but it was busy.
  • 28′ How many days are enough at Disneyland Paris?
  • 28’50 Are there some things you wish you knew before you came?
    • Make sure you know what attractions are open and closed. There’s an App now that shows what’s under refurbishment. They were thinking of coming in March, but a lot of rides were closed in anticipation of the 25th Anniversary celebration.
    • Make sure you know if your hotel has AC, they often don’t in France, don’t assume!
    • There are a lot of quick serve restaurants with interesting themes. Some of them close at unexpected times. Toad Hall wasn’t open as much as they thought it should be, that will show on the App too.
  • 34’15 Are the restaurants different at Disneyland Paris? The themes are really well done in Paris.
  • 35’15 How did you like the food?
  • 34′ What’s a good daily budget for food? More or less 16€-20€ per person per meal.
  • 37’30 There were no problems paying with credit cards anywhere, no need to carry cash.
  • 38′ What sit-down restaurants did you try? They tried Bistro Chez Rémi. The Silver Spur smelled really good, but they didn’t get to try it. In the village they tried Buffalo Bill Wild West Show (a must-do for French people!), it’s a dinner show, very fun.   King Ludwig’s had German food and it was very good.
  • 41’20 They stayed at the Sequoia Lodge which has a pool and is 15 minutes walk to the park. It’s a mid-range price hotel. This is a Disneyland hotel.
  • 42’39 Annie stayed at an out-lying hotel called the Vienna House Dream Castle at Disneyland Paris which had 2 queen-sized beds in one room. The wait-time for the bus was sometimes a bit long.
  • 47′ What was your favorite thing that you did on this trip?
  • 48’30 What didn’t you like? They didn’t like the train because it takes forever as there is only one on the track, and there isn’t much to see along the route. The back lot tour was also a disappointment because it was boring.
  • 51’30 What are some tips you want to share with the listeners?
    • Don’t buy the photo pass because there are too few photographers out.
  • 55′ The night-time show projected on the castle was lovely!
  • 57′ If you need transportation to or from the airport, the Magical Shuttle is a really good option. You can schedule it in advance.

Conclusion

Disneyland Paris was really magical, Debbie, her husband and children all enjoyed it very much. By some measures, the Disneyland Paris park is the most visited attraction in France. It is especially perfect for families with children between ages 5 and 12 or 13.

Looking for a good hotel deal? Start here, you won’t pay a penny more and you will support the show also!

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