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This is a Join Us in France Short, Episode 250. Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and today I wonder: Are you worrying about the right stuff when preparing your trip to France? In other words, what are the things you should consider when visiting Paris and what are some you can forget about?
Vacation time is precious and maybe you’re coming to France for the first time, so you want the best of everything and you ask for a lot of recommendations. I understand that urge, I do the same thing when I am going somewhere unfamiliar.
But consider this: sometimes researching for days on end will not make your trip any better at all. So, save some time and concentrate on things that WILL make a difference! Here are 3 of them:
Things You Should Consider When Visiting Paris
I wondered if I should name this episode "don't sweat the small stuff in Paris" or "stop asking for silly recommendations"
#1 Don't Worry About Restaurants and Cafés
For every day eating where you’ll spend 15-20€ per person, you don’t need a recommendation in Paris. Whaaat? Let me explain:
You are going to be visiting a world capital with 2+ million people and a country that has a long-time reputation for great food. So why are people not trusting their own instincts? Review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have trained us think that we NEED a recommendation for a restaurants anywhere we might go. But that’s not true when it comes to France!
When you get hungry in Paris this is what you do: walk to the nearest 2 or 3 restaurants, read the menu posted outside (by LAW!), look around, take a good sniff, look at what people have in their plates, and follow your instincts. If you do that, you will discover great places that fit your taste and not somebody else’s. And you won’t be going all over the creation just to try a restaurant that’s more or less the same as what you could have had right next to you.
There are about 20,000 restaurants in Paris. Researching them from your computer at home is a total waste of time, just do the math!
Having said that, if you are planning on spending some real money on your meal, 75+ euros per person and if it’s a special occasion, that’s different. It’s worth researching the higher-end restaurants.
We Have Horrible Mexican in France
Also, if you want to eat Mexican in France you’ll need a recommendation because we’re truly bad at that. French people think “taco” means hot pocket, so there’s that sad state of affairs.
What you should worry about instead? You need to understand what all these things mean on the menu! You can only order what you like if you understand what it says! And for that I recommend two previously published episodes that explain what you need to know:
Episode 228 Café Culture in France where we list all the coffee drinks you’ll have to choose from and episode 193 a cornucopia of bizarre French foods so you understand that in French restaurants they sometimes have strange things on the menu.
#2 Taxi Companies
ONLY go to the official taxi line. That is ALL you need to know. How hard is that? Don’t talk to strangers who want to give you a ride! Go to the official taxi line where they have licensed taxis. Do I care if it’s one company over another? NO! They are all official Paris taxis! They all charge the same rate to and from the airport! Don’t talk to rogue guys who say “madame, do you need a ride?” Walk on! Really, it’s that simple.
#3 River Cruise Companies
All the river cruise companies do that same thing. They take you along the Seine river so you can see all the great monuments that line the river.
Don’t walk a mile to the next Bateaux Mouches just because a stranger recommended it on Facebook! Same service, same price (15€) for the 3 companies that do this, so does it really doesn’t matter which one you choose? If you want special services like dinner on board, maybe do a little research.
What you DO need to know is that there are 3 major companies that do river cruises in Paris. They are called:
If you tell google to take you to the Bateaux Mouches, it will take you to the Bateaux Mouches even though it’s 2 miles away and you have a Vedettes de Paris 100 yards away. So, while you shouldn’t worry about which one to choose, you should remember what they are called so you can ask google maps to take you to the closest one!
And you don’t need to book in advance, I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes even with a big group in the middle of the summer!
So, what are some things you should consider when visiting Paris and some you should really stop worrying about?
#1 Learn how to pick a restaurant without wasting time reading dozens of recommendations.
#2 You don't need recommendations for the "best" Paris taxis. All you need to remember is to only hire official taxis!
#3 River cruise companies all provide similar products. What you need to know is what they are called so you can walk to the dock easily.
That’s all I have time for in this short, I’ll be back on Sunday with tips on how to organize your trip to Paris.
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Discussed in this Episode
- Bateaux Mouches
- Bateaux Parisiens
- Vedettes de Paris
- Official Paris Taxis
- French people don't understand what Mexican food is!