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Discussed in this Episode
- Switching hotels in the middle of the trip [03:57]
- When traveling solo you can let the weather decide what you're going to do for the day [05:05]
- Learning what sort of traveler you are when visiting on your own [06:05]
- Do some planning because not all of paris is equally lovely or interesting [07:04]
- Ask yourself what YOU want to do [10:26]
- Places des Vosges for people-watching [13:08]
- Jardin des Rosiers on rue des Rosiers [13:15]
- Miznon fallafel shop [14:13]
- Edwart Chocolatier on rue Vieille du Temple [14:46]
- Merci concept store on Boulevard Beaumarchais [15:38]
- Best time to go to the Trocadero is early in the morning [16:47]
- Pont Alexandre III as a great photo spot [18:44]
- Le Bon Marché in the 7e arrondissement [19:37]
- Learn what's near you so you don't go all over the place [21:26]
- Don't miss la Tour de l'Horloge [22:42]
- It's easy to miss a lot of Montmartre if you don't take a tour [23:44]
- Don't stay in Montmartre if your children need a stoller or if you have mobility issues [27:28]
- Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a wonderful central area and easy to navigate [28:03]
- Place de Furstemberg [28:40]
- Jardin du Luxembourg a great place to read [30:18]
- Restaurant Treize in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and its non-smoking terrace [31:25]
- What would you do differently next time? [33:15]
- Arrive in Montmartre early especially on a sunny day [35:31]
- Butte-aux-Cailles and street art (pick your time carefully!) [35:31]
- Solo travelers get to see more because they don't need to compromise with anyone [39:18]
- Lauren got to use her French more because she was solo [39:36]
- CityMapper Paris [41:12]
- Pay attention to exit numbers in the Paris metro [43:35]
- TripCoin for keeping track of expenses [44:53]
- Orange Holiday SIM card [46:19]
Annie Sargent 0:00
This is Join Us in France Episode 273. Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent. And on a typical episode of Join Us in France, I talk with someone who’s visited cool places in France, and tells us about it. About once a month I chat with my friend Elyse who is a licensed tour guide and loves to talk about history and art. And other episodes are just me demystifying France for you because as a French person, I want to give you the tools you need to have a great time in France.
Annie Sargent 0:28
On today’s episode, I talked to Lauren Gibson about her solo trip to Paris. I think Paris is the perfect city for solo travelers. There is so much to see and do. My guest worked out a nice itinerary that she’ll tell us all about. She went around several Paris neighborhoods recommends some great food places. Listen, if you’re going to Paris solo, don’t miss this episode, but even if you’re going with family or friends, there’s a lot of inspiration here.
Annie Sargent 0:58
Show Notes for this episode are on JoinUsinfrance.com/273, the number 273. And if you’re planning a trip to France, the site is chock full of great resources, you should check it out.
Annie Sargent 1:13
I have a question for you. Are you willing to try something new? Then try one of my Paris audio tours. The newest one is a great walk around Saint-Germain-des-Prés. And no, you don’t need data for it to work. download it from somewhere you have Wi Fi you could download it from home if you’d like. And it’ll run on GPS only. And this is not something I expect everybody to know. But GPS does not need data to work anywhere in the world. Yvonne, who is a favorite on the Join Us in France close group on Facebook these days, wrote a short and sweet review of my Montmartre tour.
Annie Sargent 1:52
I went to Monotmartre last week and missed most of it after taking a wrong turn. Today I went back with Annie, who told me where to go in the nicest possible way, informative fun, and a really great way to explore a vibrant area of Paris, do it!
Annie Sargent 2:12
So how about that for a test, go to a famous neighborhood by yourself with the information you’ve been able to piece together here and there by listening to this podcast perhaps. And then do it again by following my audio tour. It’ll be night and day. You’ll see all that you missed the first time, you’ll understand bits of French history, you didn’t know we’re right there.
Annie Sargent 2:34
And you can buy these tours from https://joinusinfrance.com/audiotours/. They’re not expensive, as a matter of fact I just got an email from somebody who said, That’s too cheap. It won’t break the bank around $6. If you buy through https://joinusinfrance.com/audiotours/ and it will really enhance your visit.
Annie Sargent 3:32
Lauren, and welcome to Join Us in France.
Lauren Gibson 3:36
Thank you so much for having me today.
Annie Sargent 3:38
It’s lovely to talk to you. So tell us, you were going to talk today about your solo trip to Paris. And we want to hear about what makes it different when you go to Paris by yourself, because you’ve been there with your husband and also by yourself. And so, you know, that’s what I want to hear about the differences.
Lauren Gibson 3:57
Absolutely. Well, I traveled to Paris for mid to late June in 2019. And as you mentioned, I visited Paris for one week solo. And then my husband joined me for a second week in France. But as he said, we’ll focus on the solo week in Paris. It was my first time there alone. And I stayed for four nights on the right bank and three nights on the left bank.
Annie Sargent 4:24
Why did you switch?
Lauren Gibson 4:26
I had so many ideas of what I wanted to do. I love the left bank. I’ve stayed there before. So I wanted to go back to a similar neighborhood. But I knew that I wanted to explore more about the right what the right bank had to offer. So I decided to switch it up halfway. Which was nice because I got two different hotel experiences to different parts of the city. And since I was by myself, it didn’t bother me that you know, I packed up my suitcase after four days and took a quick little Uber I it was not a problem.
Annie Sargent 5:02
You did pack a lot!
Lauren Gibson 5:05
In those few days, I did. And here’s so I had a lot of ideas. However, I let the weather partially dictate what I did. So this is another benefit of traveling by yourself really anywhere, right but in, in Paris I had, I think it was exactly 30 minutes of a light rain the entire week I was there, right? It was the weather was perfect. I don’t know Celsius very well, but in Fahrenheit, it was high. 70s low 80s.
Annie Sargent 5:37
Lauren Gibson 5:37
Sunshine. So I had so many ideas, but I ended up walking around a lot, stopping in a lot of parks and restaurants cafes, kind of popping into shops, because the weather was so nice. So I didn’t get to any of the museums that I had not seen before that I was interested in seeing this time. So because the weather was great. So that’s that Guess
Annie Sargent 6:00
Go ahead. Sorry. Sorry, how many so how many visits Have you had to Paris before?
Lauren Gibson 6:05
So this is only my second visit. I’ve done two weeks prior with my husband and then this was a week solo focus. Oh, yeah. So I think traveling by yourself i’d also allowed me to be totally flexible with the with the weather and kind of go with what I was enjoying and I walked a lot, which I think would drive people a little bit crazy. But I really I truly enjoyed it. And I also discovered I expected to kind of take a book and sit in a cafe for hours or sit in a garden for four hours and read and I realized when I kind of got going, that I like to stop by places enjoy them and then keep moving and I was surprised by that because it was not my plan. It did allow me to of course see more, but I I learned a lot about myself and that I like to just experienced something kind of take it in and then keep going. Yeah, always come back.
Annie Sargent 7:04
Yeah, yeah. Well, this is this is a bit of a conundrum for me because a lot of people say that they love to plan nothing when they’re in Paris. And I don’t understand that. Because Paris is a beautiful city. There’s plenty of wonderful stuff to do. But not all of it is equally wonderful or equally interesting. You know what I mean? If you don’t have any plans, you’re just, I don’t know. Where are you from? Lauren, are you from?
Lauren Gibson 7:39
I’m from North Carolina.
Annie Sargent 7:40
Okay. So, if I went to Charlotte. And I just told you I got nothing planned. I’ll just walk around.
Lauren Gibson 7:49
Annie Sargent 7:50
What would you say?
Lauren Gibson 7:51
What are you going to do with yourself?
Annie Sargent 7:54
Lauren Gibson 7:54
How will you know what to do?
Annie Sargent 7:56
And the reason why Paris has this reputation is because of all the movies that have really romanticized it to a great degree. Not that it’s not wonderful, like I said, but there’s places where really it’s not worth your time. Like, it’s just a regular old neighborhood. And maybe it’s because I live in France full time, you know, I see French neighborhoods all the time. To me, it’s like, Okay, so what?
Lauren Gibson 8:24
I, so that may be a tiny part of it. But I think on the whole, I completely agree with you. And it’s interesting you say that because the impetus for this trip, I had visited a lot of museums the first time kind of those big bucket list, quote, unquote, places. And I mean, I’ve been waiting half my life to see them to be honest. So I loved doing that. When I got home, I thought, I saw a lot of great museums, a lot of great monuments, but I didn’t really get a feel for what was around that area.
Lauren Gibson 8:59
And so this trip I focused on it was mostly the areas that I had kind of breezed through last time to rush to Musee d’Orsay or go to the Louvre, but I didn’t really understand what was around it. So in my researching for this trip, I did since it was just me, I just focused on Well, what are some gardens that are in the Marais? Or what are some areas near all of the great museums on the left bank that maybe I just kind of breezed by and didn’t notice last time.
Lauren Gibson 9:30
So I certainly had a laundry list of things I wanted to do, but I also didn’t lock myself in to anything, right? So I wasn’t wandering.
Annie Sargent 9:40
Right but so you did have you did have a purposeful visit.
Lauren Gibson 9:44
For sure. I am a project manager by by day. So I enjoy planning and some may say I over planned and had too long of a list but I saw what I wanted to see and I knew what I wanted Explore when I got there I agree with you the idea of going to Paris with no plan is I wonder what you would do I mean, there’s some obvious things right? Right. But yeah, I don’t know
Annie Sargent 10:14
You’d get on the on the tourist bus and which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s not like yeah, it’s okay slightly took a few for a few out for half a day maybe
Lauren Gibson 10:26
And that’s what you can think about when you’re going solo is what do I want to do? Yeah, I did not want to go on a tourist bus. Some people do. Some one of my good friends does that when she goes to new places and loves it. So think about especially if you’re going solo. What do you want to do now? Like it might change when you get there? For example, I thought I would just relax in a park for half a day. But you know yourself. Of course when you’re planning and you can think about what are the things that would bring me joy or make me feel like I really got to know the museum’s Or the restaurants or certain parts of the city, whatever makes you kind of tick.
Annie Sargent 11:04
Lauren Gibson 11:04
And when you’re solo, you can just you don’t have to take anybody else into consideration was
Annie Sargent 11:10
So what was. I’ll post your outline of all the things you did on what day and all of that. Okay, and that’ll be the show notes the guest Notes for this episode. But I wonder what places really stick out in your mind that that people should consider visiting?
Lauren Gibson 11:30
Sure. I think something that I breezed by too quickly on my first trip is the Marais. I walked through it in the middle of the day. It was so crowded. Yeah, I was a bit turned off by how crowded it was. And I hadn’t really done any research about what area I was in the history of it. So to me, it was not a great first impression.
Annie Sargent 11:53
However, Marais is… The streets. It’s It’s the last Well, there’s a No still a lot of medieval streets in the Marais. And so they are narrow and they feel crowded and they are they’re still cars too. Yes. So you know it’s Yeah, it is crowd it feels crowded
Lauren Gibson 12:14
And the scooters as well so I stayed in the marina for the first four days and I’d like to recommend the place I stayed if that’s okay. Sure a few because I loved it. It’s hotel Caron de Beaumarchais.
Annie Sargent 12:28
Lauren Gibson 12:29
And it’s on Rue Vieille du Temple. So it’s pretty close to the islands. Yeah, yes. Ile Saint Louis, Île de la Cité, but you’re in the Marais. So I loved staying there. Reason being I would get up pretty early. That’s my nature as well. and explore some of the gardens some of the streets because of that area. It you can wander a bit in the Marais because it is quite quite beautiful. And I would do it early in the day before it got really crowded, and since I was staying there, I didn’t have to figure out how to navigate myself there, get there.
Lauren Gibson 13:08
So I have a few gardens that I really enjoyed if you’d like for me to point some out as Okay, so Place des Vosges, I know is quite popular and perhaps a bit well known but it is so, so beautiful. So if you are exploring that area, it’s a large square with a lot of brick work around it and a garden in the middle and there are these passages that you can walk around. I just window shoped. I haven’t but I really enjoyed walking around that area and just kind of people watching. You know, I also enjoyed the Jardin des Rosiers on rue des Rosiers it’s a little bit of a hidden garden, but it has a piece of this Philippe Auguste wall, the old city wall that used to two I guess, in circle, Paris. So that was was really cool to see their beautiful fruit trees and it was just a nice place to relax. It’s also near all of those really nice falafel shops in that area.
Lauren Gibson 14:13
I went to I know you’ve mentioned one on your podcast before but I went to Maison Miznon, and it is loud. It’s hectic, the food is divine. They’re cauliflower pita I had a falafel I went a couple times. It’s amazing. It’s the same kind of deal. There’s a line out the door there is some seating inside but I took it to eat at Jardin des Rosiers and so yeah, if you’re in the area and exploring the Marais I would completely recommend that as a little meal.
Lauren Gibson 14:46
Yeah, I also really enjoyed there was a chocolate shop that particularly stuck out to me. I did mostly window shopping to be completely honest but Edwart Chocolatier is on rue Vieille du Temple, it’s very small, and the salesperson was so kind. I started off in French. But I, I could tell she, she certainly I heard her speaking to other people. And so I knew that she spoke English so I got to ask her some kind of more detailed questions in English. And she was so generous with the samples, we got a couple of really nice boxes of chocolates as gifts to give to give back. So I really liked going in there and talking, talking with her and I just felt like it was a nice local experience that was also very friendly and approachable as a visitor.
Annie Sargent 15:37
That’s great. That’s a great recommendation.
Lauren Gibson 15:40
Yep. Thank you. My last recommendation in the area in terms of shopping this was just a window shopping stop for me is Merci. It is a quite it’s quite a large store. I think they call it a concept store the the inventory changes quite regularly and it’s sort of based on a theme, but they have clothes but they have a lot of housewares. I particularly liked that. And it is it’s beautiful. The inside of the store is gorgeous multi level. They have a coffee shop, a bookstore and adorable little courtyard. So you could definitely do some some good shopping there. I just went window shopped. But I enjoyed my time in that store as well. And if you go to Merci, there’s a lot of stores right around there. If shopping is kind of up up your alley.
Annie Sargent 16:28
Yeah, the I mean, the Marais he is a great place for shopping. You have so many streets that are nothing but little shops of all sorts, some of them. pretty expensive. Quite a few pretty expensive. But but many are approachable. You know, it just it just depends on what you like.
Lauren Gibson 16:47
Yep. Yes, exactly. So kind of shifting gears from the right, I’d like to suggest something else on the other side of the city. I got up early one morning, I guess you’re seeing a theme here. And I, I went to the Trocadero, which I know can get quite jam packed. Just for any listeners who aren’t aware there’s a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero. So I got there about seven or 7:30. It was my the morning that I actually kind of got myself out of bed and going the earliest.
Lauren Gibson 17:22
There were people there, there’s wedding photographers and all of that family photographers. But it was not crowded yet. And so I would say if you’re going to do the Trocadero, if you can, get yourself up in the morning. The view is stunning. And the way the sun is rising and hitting that almost like marble type floor flooring, you know, that’s outside and it’s beautiful. So, I would recommend that as an early in the day activity. If you go later in the day. I’m sure it’s great, but I’ve heard it is jam packed.
Annie Sargent 17:57
Yes, yes. And that’s why all the photographers go there first thing in the morning because the light is beautiful. You have the Eiffel Tower behind you. It’s It’s gorgeous.
Lauren Gibson 18:06
Oh, it is I can Yeah, I totally recommend it. But pick your time of day carefully. Yeah. And when you kind of descend from the Trocadero, there are some gardens and that you can kind of wander down and again, if you’re there early, there’s I just thought the views were lovely. It was kind of a park feel as I walked toward the Eiffel Tower, and I really enjoyed that more than I thought I would I kind of just wanted to see what it was like but it was beautiful. So highly recommend that. That area.
Annie Sargent 18:42
Yes, it’s a beautiful place.
Lauren Gibson 18:44
And later that day, I went to along Pont Alexandre III, which is that gorgeous bridge, of course with the gold and this stunning architecture and the lights but I would say, you know, if you’re in that area, it’s a few minutes from It’s right across from the song the lead, and it’s a few minutes from Musee d’Orsay and if you’re looking for a bridge in Paris with truly picturesque views, that’s probably the one I would recommend because of course the bridge itself is gorgeous. You can see the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, le Petit Palais, the music stores d’Orsay you can almost kind of see the live if my memory serves me correctly. So it’s just a really nice place for frankly a little photo op if you like.
Annie Sargent 19:28
Yeah, the pictures of beautiful again, this is another great photo spot. Pont Alexandre III is very famous for that.
Lauren Gibson 19:37
And then I went back into the seventh arrondissement a little bit toward le Bon Marché. Again a window shopping destination for me.
Annie Sargent 19:47
Yeah, that’s pretty expensive.
Lauren Gibson 19:49
It is quite expensive. So it’s a large department store. And it is beautiful. There are those gorgeous elevators in the middle. I don’t know why I said that. Are the elevators do not sound interesting but if you see
Annie Sargent 20:03
it no they are beautiful because their art deco
Lauren Gibson 20:06
it yes yeah you’re right yeah
Annie Sargent 20:08
so they’re there they’re just gorgeous everything around there you know the the Grand Palais, Petit Palais all of this art deco area of the lampposts on the bridge are also our decal annual they’re just gorgeous the whole thing is
Lauren Gibson 20:24
and I think there’s so much around there that one may already be doing right. Musée d’Orsay, Les Invalides, Musée Rodin? So if you’re in the area, right going to that bridge are going to, to le lBon Marché. I mean, I think the Bon Marché really surprised me, just in, how beautiful it was, has a place to walk around.
Annie Sargent 20:45
Yes, yeah. Highly recommend it. It’s very nice. And yeah, it’s. And, again, it’s really important. I mean, I know lots of you said you walked a lot and you will walk a lot no matter what you do in Paris, but it’s really important to Plan your days around one area.
Lauren Gibson 21:04
Exactly. And that’s
Annie Sargent 21:06
Yeah, you don’t want to be all over the place like discover the one area and then the next day go to a different area. But very often what happens is when people didn’t plan this out quite right, they don’t really know what else there is nearby. And the Apps, there are some really good travel apps, but they’re not good yet about telling you or you’re, you know, your quarter mile away from this really nice thing.
Annie Sargent 21:34
And so if you don’t take a tour, which is why I write self guided audio tours, because then I explore the area and I tell people, okay, this is, you know, wonderful and walk two minutes and there’s another wonderful thing and then two more minutes, and there’s another wonderful thing. So I just show them all the wonderful things around them, which a lot of people don’t they wouldn’t know where’d you go next? And so they go, Oh, I’ve heard of the Opera House. Great. I’m at the Trocadero. I’ll go to the opera house and then they’ll come back to the Eiffel Tower and slow down.
Lauren Gibson 22:10
Exactly. Yeah. And I think you kind of hit the nail on the head in terms of what I was trying to kind of explore but exploring an intentional planned way. I’ll say yes, I knew I had been to a Musée d’Orsay before I’d been to The Invalides, but I hadn’t really, to your point, thought about well, what are some things that aren’t these big grand museums but what’s within a 10 to 15 minute walk that I might want to see that might be gorgeous or might be Oh, lovely place to explore. So that was
Annie Sargent 22:42
Right around there. You don’t have to go 10-15 minutes as walk one minute and it’s just the it’s just that people walk walk right past it and they don’t know it’s there. So they, they just well, you know, I can’t tell you the number of people who walk past the the magnificent clock, the Île de la Cité there’s this beautiful clock, but it’s high up and you’re in Paris. And there’s right there. It’s really noisy and it’s really busy and people walk by and they don’t see it.
Lauren Gibson 23:11
Yeah. Yes, yes.
Annie Sargent 23:15
Right by the Sainte Chapelle. It’s the La Tour de l’Horloge. And, you know, sometimes I sit there, I sit there at the corner, and I noticed what people are doing. And I’m not watching. I’m not watching the clock and watch the people. And I see how many of them just walk right past it, and they didn’t see it like, it’s so easily done. And, of course, that’s a giant thing. But sometimes it’s a small thing that if nobody told you it was there, you just never know.
Lauren Gibson 23:44
Completely. And that’s actually I wanted to mention that as something about Montmartre in particular, I went to Mountmartre for a day, most of the day, and I’ve been there before, but I walked around. I tried to kind of Get away from Sacré Chœur because it is very touristy and I want it. I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with that Sacré Chœur is gorgeous, but I wanted to kind of explore some of the streets nearby. And I did. I found some beautiful places.
Lauren Gibson 24:13
And however, I don’t know what it was about that neighborhood in particular, but I left feeling like I didn’t learn anything about it. So to kind of go back to what you’re saying about the audio tours, frankly, if I’d known about well, I don’t think it was…
Unknown Speaker 24:30
They weren’t out yet.
Lauren Gibson 24:31
Yeah. But I probably would have just bought it on the spot because I really enjoyed walking around that neighborhood. But it was something that I just felt like I didn’t leave feeling like I really got it.
Annie Sargent 24:46
Right. And and even when I write these audio tours, I have to make a lot of choices. And so I do tell I tell you a lot but there’s also a lot I don’t I can’t talk about because I’d be stopping your every five meters and then it’s not a walking towards a standing tour and nobody wants that. So
Lauren Gibson 25:06
Yeah, I thought I really enjoyed this visit to Montmartre it was a lot better than my first visit which was just kind of Sacré Chœur and then kind of get out of there because it was too crowded. But so I did really love the neighborhood and I really recommend it but I think having a either your audio tour or at least some knowledge of what beautiful things are looking at really helpful because I did feel leave feeling a little bit like It Wasn’t I didn’t get the hang of it if that makes sense. Like in the Marais I feel like I kind of got I don’t know, I got the hang of it I got by but for me, that would be my recommendation in that area would be to come in with the knowledge or to do something like your audio tour.
Annie Sargent 25:51
Yeah, yeah. Or a book or something. I don’t know. I mean that. I mean, I’m very happy. Don’t get me wrong. These people by my audio tours and plenty of people are But, but at least go with something. Don’t Don’t go with like, Oh, just follow the crowd around the Sacré Chœur. Which range is honestly it’s like so touristy. It’s It’s, it’s, it’s a sea of tourists. It
Lauren Gibson 26:17
It is, and it was another day I tried to get there semi early. I think I wound up there about 10am Oh, it was packed already. Yeah, I thought well if I really wanted to kind of see this little bit less crowded I should have come even earlier but I mean it really you know this it doesn’t take but a few minutes to walk in, right?
Annie Sargent 26:37
And it depends also on the weather and all that so you know if it’s a rainy day, it’s not going to be crowded. But if it’s a beautiful gorgeous day like you had in June well you know, it’s the kind of place where if you stop, somebody will hit you in the back of the head with their ice cream cone, you know, because they didn’t notice that you stopped. It’s that it’s that busy. I mean honestly it’s like a sea of people.
Lauren Gibson 27:01
Yeah, yeah, I agree. I think I can mention one more area that I spent some time in that I really enjoyed. It is Saint-Germain-des-Prés so I mentioned that I’ve stayed there before. And I would recommend this as an area to stay in. If you can, because as you know, it is stunning. Gorgeous. I think personally, it’s the most central area. Yeah, if you’re a visitor.
Annie Sargent 27:29
it’s mostly flat unlike Montmartre. There was this is sweet lady the other day who was on the on the Facebook group, who said oh, we bought we booked an apartment or maybe it was a hotel I can remember Montmartre we’re going with her baby like,
Lauren Gibson 27:44
Oh gosh, the stroller!
Annie Sargent 27:46
The stroller Montmartre cobblestone. What gave you the idea to go stay Montmartre? It’s so worst possible place in Paris to stay. It’s honestly it’s all stairs and cobblestones and hills.
Lauren Gibson 28:01
Yeah, it’s a great workout.
Annie Sargent 28:03
Oh, it’s beautiful. And it’s it’s a yes. It’s good. You need to visit it but not with a stroller! Anyway. Yeah. So so yes. Saint-Germain-des-Prés Excellent, excellent area. It’s very central. It’s very beautiful. It’s very expensive. And I think it’s right now it’s probably the most expensive place to buy an apartment. But of course, you wouldn’t be buying apartments, you don’t care. But it’s very expensive. Yeah.
Lauren Gibson 28:31
But when you’re staying there, I mean, I think if you can do a hotel in that area and make it work that it’s, I think it’s quite workable, like you said, it, there’s a lot going on, it’s not too far from probably a lot of the places that you may want to go a lot of those museums and it’s not far from the right bank either. So it’s pretty close to those bridges. So I stayed there for a few nights and again, I think it is similar to the Marais. Not in the vibe not in that but in the fact that right around Saint-Germain-des-Prés you can kind of just walk down some streets and see beautiful Parisian streets without kind of having a exact turn by turn direction. Although I will say I had missed this tiny little square that’s so beautiful. I know you know it plastic de Furstenberg?
Annie Sargent 29:25
Yes, yes. It’s gorgeous!
Lauren Gibson 29:29
I had done all the streets around it, but I walked right by it. So if you’re wandering in that area plus two Furstenberg hat, it’s just tiny. There was this gorgeous flower shop with flowers overflowing the street. And if you’re into just exploring the neighborhood, don’t miss that one. There are plenty of other streets. Yeah.
Annie Sargent 29:48
Yeah. So I’m working on a tour of the left bank. And one of my problems is there, some streets there, where I have so many things to say that again, it’s going to turn into a standing tour and you know go five steps and then have something else tell you something else amazing happened and then five more steps and you know how Geez. But again, these are very small places that people walk right by and they don’t know what they’re looking at, blink it and I miss it.
Lauren Gibson 30:18
Yeah, exactly. Well, I don’t think a slow walking standing tour would be that bad in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, but I do really enjoy enjoying that area. And I went back to the Jardin du Luxembourg, which I know is obviously, again, pretty well known. Yeah, but I just enjoy it. And I will say that’s the one place where I did enjoy a nice long read with my book. I sat down by the fountain Medici kind of on that probably nor third type corner by this the sun not by the building.
Annie Sargent 30:54
Center. Yes. And it’s Yeah, it’s more shaded around there.
Lauren Gibson 30:57
Exactly. Well, you read my mind because it was very Sunny and gorgeous. I landed in this shaded, slightly breezy area and I did stay there for a few hours and read my book and looked at the fountain and that was gorgeous. So of course, if one is planning a trip and going to that area the Jardin du Luxembourg, I don’t think it’s to be missed. I know
Annie Sargent 31:17
I agree. I agree. It’s, it’s gorgeous and very pleasant. If you can slow down a little bit and enjoy it, it’s perfect.
Lauren Gibson 31:25
Yes. I’d like to recommend one more thing in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It’s a specific restaurant. It’s called Treize Bakery like 13. Yes, it is owned by I think it’s owned by a couple people but one of the women is from South Carolina, which is not too far for me. So it’s a very interesting blend of it definitely definitely feels a little bit French but it has some Southern American qualities to it. Most notably, they haven’t biscuits. I, first of all, the interior is gorgeous. The food is fantastic. And I love that they’re terrorists. They’re terrorists is non smoking. So, yes, it was so nice. So I went a couple of times because it was just nice to know that I wasn’t going to have to consider that in terms of where I sat. And their food is quite good. It is litter. It’s quite literally, you’re looking at the shot down to Luxembourg when you sit
Annie Sargent 32:28
on their terrorist. So it is so I’m trying to I don’t think I’ve ever been there. Maybe on the side or something.
Lauren Gibson 32:37
Let’s see, I’m looking up. It’s on rue de Medici Medici. It’s right by I mean, if if, you know, obviously, you know where the Fontaine de Médicis is almost right on the other side of that fence, you know, the right
Annie Sargent 32:53
to the, to the right. Okay, well, I’ll have to go find it next time.
Lauren Gibson 32:59
Oh, please. Now I would really recommend it. I think I went twice. I went for breakfast and I went for a little I got kind of hungry. And so I popped in there. They have nice snacks too, but they do full meals as well. And they had some live music. It’s a really lovely place.
Annie Sargent 33:15
Excellent. So are there any, is there anything that you would do differently next time you go to Paris?
Lauren Gibson 33:23
I wishwell now I enjoyed my time. I did not see any museums that I had on my list. So I would probably balance that out a bit more because I do enjoy that Paris has top notch museums, of course. One in particular was the Picasso Museum which was closed the last time I was there. It had reopened so I’ve never been I didn’t get to it and I I kind of wish that I did I don’t know what I would have done like I wouldn’t have done in its place but next time right that is sure on my list.
Annie Sargent 33:57
Yes, it’s a nice museum. It’s it’s last time I went I was with Elyse, and as you know, she loves museums just loves museum. Yes. And I kept making silly remarks about how crazy Picasso was. So I would just go, what is this? Like, and tried to get her to tell me what it was. And then when she was done, I’ll go. Uh huh. So he was crazy, right? We agree. She thinks I’m a pest.
Lauren Gibson 34:31
You balance each other out.
Lauren Gibson 34:34
I’m taking my mom and my sister and next September. Well, I’m not taking we’re all going together. Right. But yeah, I I know the Picasso Museum is one that I want. I haven’t been so I think it’d be fun to do something that
Annie Sargent 34:48
Yeah. When you when you sit in front of a picture and ask yourself, what the heck is this?
Lauren Gibson 34:53
I will think of you and I do. Yes.
Annie Sargent 34:55
And then when you come to a conclusion, ask yourself was this man right in his Head. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you told me before the show that you before we started recording that. Your mom is a fan of the podcast. So Hello, mom.
Lauren Gibson 35:13
Thank you for listening.
Annie Sargent 35:15
Lauren Gibson 35:16
So I think that’s one, you know, kind of balancing it out. I did have a lot of fun walking, but I think next time maybe I’ll walk a lot and kind of mix in some places. I haven’t been to like those, those museums and things like that. Yeah.
Annie Sargent 35:31
Yeah. So you mentioned also arriving in Montmartre earlier. Yes, that’s especially on a sunny day. I got some really important point. And Butte-aux-Cailles, that’s a bit far isn’t it?
Lauren Gibson 35:43
So I Yes, I’d seen that there’s a lot of street art in Butte-aux-Cailles. Okay. And so I wanted to go I metroed, of course, yeah, over to that area. I had a really fun lunch at Chez Gladine. It’s me, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. There’s a few different Chez Gladine addresses. That was kind of fun.
Lauren Gibson 36:02
But I went on a Thursday in the middle of the day. Everybody’s working. Sure. So I was obviously I mean, as they would be where I live, so I, there’s not like the big, you know, business area. So there’s not as many people walking around and I had a little bit of difficulty getting a sense of where I should go, I hadn’t done my research because it was kind of like a little last minute thing.
Annie Sargent 36:28
But see, this is one of those places that people love to recommend. But it is it is lovely, but you have to get the right time. You have to go on a Wednesday afternoon or Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon. When the people are there if you just go whenever well. It’s gonna be empty, mostly empty, you know, and it’s and the weather has to be right I mean, there’s so many caveats you know, you have to time it just right. Yeah, if you know Paris you go Oh, today would be lovely for Butte-aux-Cailles. Yeah, but, but if you just follow a list and you go whenever No, no, not a good idea.
Lauren Gibson 37:08
Yeah. And that would be my I mean, I realized when I got there, I thought I should have come on a weekend.
Annie Sargent 37:13
Yeah, yeah. Or Wednesday afternoon, because that’s when French kids are off of school. Oh, you’re right. Yeah. And so and so there’s more families with… People with kids, and that makes any Park more fun.
Lauren Gibson 37:28
And that would be my recommendation for if you go to those areas that are a bit more local, would be to do your research more than I did it. To me, it was just one stop. So it wasn’t a big deal. I just kind of went there I went back, it was fine. But if I if I had wanted to spend more time there had really been looking forward to it. I think I would have been a bit disappointed because I would have felt like I didn’t quite know what to do and felt like, you know, I did choose the wrong time. So if you want to do something a little bit off the beaten path, I’d say do your research. So you know Yeah, way to go no
Annie Sargent 38:00
Go when there’s people!
Lauren Gibson 38:04
Annie Sargent 38:05
It was it has some nice features the garden has some nice features I can’t remember them all I’ve been there but I been to so many Paris parks I don’t remember what all the features are there but yeah, it’s good if you kind of go to Wikipedia look at the, you know, the the features that they offer and, and go on a weekend or an week-end or on a Wednesday afternoon.
Lauren Gibson 38:23
Yeah, yeah. But I mean, the good thing again about being solo. Yeah, it wasn’t the highlight, but I don’t know. It was fine. Yeah. I just turned around and went back and did something else. Yeah,
Annie Sargent 38:33
It’s great. I think that’s a very good point. You know, I mean, people are afraid of traveling solo, but well, not everybody is afraid, obviously. But, but people wonder, you know, will I like it as much would it be better if my friend came with my husband or whatever, kids, whatever. And yes, it’s it’s wonderful to go with somebody else, but it introduces some limitations. You know, your freedom of movement is not the same and you will definitely see more I think you can pack more in if you by yourself, because you can just change your mind if it’s not, if it doesn’t live up to your expectation, you can just go home, okay bye move on.
Annie Sargent 39:18
Whereas if you’re with other people, there’s always the one person in the group who’s been doing all the planning and everybody looks at them, like, why did you bring us here? Like, you know, it’s just not nice? Or this, you know, this is not romantic enough or whatever it is like and, and so when you’re by yourself, yeah, you don’t have all those problems.
Lauren Gibson 39:36
Exactly. And I would say, I know this doesn’t apply to every visitor, but something I noticed because as I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, my husband did join me for the second week. I speak a little bit of French, I would say I’m low, intermediate and my accents, not good. But when I was by myself, people Did not switch to English It was very few and far between. And I think I even got some questions sometimes about the wording they used was where do you originate from? Not Where are you visiting from, but kind of assuming that I was there, which was nice because I see a conversation but
Annie Sargent 40:20
So they figured maybe you were an American who lived in Paris.
Lauren Gibson 40:25
Exactly right. And I think being by myself, when I had those conversations, I did get to practice my French a little bit more and push myself. I had a 40 minute conversation in French from the airport at the taxi after not really sleeping so that was a challenge.
Annie Sargent 40:42
Welcome to Paris!
Lauren Gibson 40:45
But it really pushed me to just stick with French and if I got stuck kind of say I’m sorry just a moment kind of gather my thoughts and people were very patient with me and I noticed when I was with my husband on a previous trip, and then after my solo week, they were quicker to kind of catch on. Okay, she’s the only one talking. He probably speaks English, I’ll be kind and switch to English, which was great, but not as good for me in terms of practice.
Annie Sargent 41:12
So and you mentioned a few apps that you enjoyed. Let’s talk about those before. Before we get to know before we wrap this up,
Lauren Gibson 41:22
of course, so I have to recommend. The first is city mapper, which I believe originated in Paris, but they do have it for other major cities in Europe and in the US. And what I particularly liked about it, it’s a transportation app. So it tells you if you plug into points, it tells you how far it’ll block how long it would take by bike by Uber by Metro and my favorite is the metro and bus option. I stuck to walking in Metro when I was there. But what I love about their Metro functionality in particular is that it will tell you What car to get in? And when you exit the car? Exactly which direction to turn off of that platform? What door or what exit to take exit number?
Lauren Gibson 42:12
Yes, excact, which is critical at if anybody uses metros in big cities, that’s kind of that’s the same problem. But in I wanted to not have my phone out near the metro or on the metro just for safety in terms of pickpocketing. So I would look at it before I got there. And I’d say, Okay, I know I need to get off at this stuff. And I need to look for that exit. And so I wasn’t kind of wandering around the metro or worse getting out and being, you know, two blocks away totally turned around because you didn’t do that. Yeah, if you go the wrong way. So I think in terms of just making me feel more comfortable in navigating, I really recommend city app or its city mapper, sorry, it’s free to download.
Annie Sargent 42:55
Yeah, it’s it’s my favorite too for Paris. I’ve also Use Google Maps, which is fine, but I prefer citymapper. I think those apps, it’s like, you probably already have an app on your phone that can take you that can, you know, either Google Maps or Apple Maps will do the job. But to me citymapper has the extra little plus that I enjoy. But that’s a personal thing. My husband would would prefer to just do Google Maps.
Lauren Gibson 43:24
And I prefer to Google Maps for walking I think they’re turned by turn directions for me were a bit better but Metro I completely agree. I I preferred citymapper. So I had both.
Annie Sargent 43:35
Yeah, and it’s important that you pay attention to the well what cars you need to go wait where you need to go wait for your for your Metro. Of course, the difficulty is always where’s the front and the back. Yeah, that’s true. Very often, there’s another Metro on the other side that will come first and you go, Oh, this one’s going this way. So I got mine is going the other way. That You know, but yeah paying attention to that and pay attention to the exit number that they recommend because if you don’t there’s metro stations where there are so many exit numbers. They are sometimes a quarter mile apart from one another. Exactly. Some of them are huge you know, some of them there’s just one exit one entrance one exit those those are easy like Cité on Île de la Cité just down exit one entrance one exit simple. Louvre-Rivoli is the same is just one entrance and exit. But there’s many others that are just all over the place.
Lauren Gibson 44:39
Republique? I think I did. Oh gosh, I’m so glad that app! It really helped me and I felt more confident.
Annie Sargent 44:47
Yeah, and Les Halles? Oh yes. ginormous.
Lauren Gibson 44:53
Yes, I have. I have one more app to suggest and i think i think that i found this one from one of your other listeners who was on the podcast, but it’s called a trip coin. And I it’s a very simple app that just helps you track your expenses. Oh, it’s also free. And I liked it just because I like to kind of be aware of what I was spending each day. You plug it in yourself, and it helped me understand how much a solo week in Paris truly cost me when I was on the ground. I had a good sense coming in. But it was very helpful.
Annie Sargent 45:28
I don’t have that one. I might have to try it.
Lauren Gibson 45:30
I liked it. I’d recommend it.
Annie Sargent 45:33
So that this is listed by like this is how much you spent on food and on transportation and whatever.
Lauren Gibson 45:39
Exactly. And you see, you can segment that out. You can even segment out by city. So if you cared about that, like if you’re going to multiple destinations, you could kind of see well how much should I spend in Paris versus Lyon verses Nancy things like that. And I’m sure it’s helpful if you’re splitting costs with people and you need to kind of reconcile The books so to speak, you know, use it for that
Annie Sargent 46:02
Interesting. I don’t remember. I mean, I vaguely remember somebody mentioning it, but I’ve never tried it and maybe I’ll install it because even at home, it’d be good to know. I thought so how much you spend on? You know, whatever. Right. Like you said, I have a pretty good idea.
Lauren Gibson 46:19
But yeah, it’s my I thought it was good to keep me aware of what I was doing. And my last suggestion from a technology perspective, it’s not an app, but it is how I used my cell phone. When in Paris, I use the orange holiday SIM card, so I’m sure you know, orange, the
Annie Sargent 46:42
cell carrier. One of the biggest cell carriers in France. Yeah.
Lauren Gibson 46:46
They have for purchase. I know you can do it in person, but they also have it for sale on Amazon directly from Orange. I think that’s important to note and it’s called a holiday SIM card. It is I bought it from Amazon before the trip. And when I landed at Charles de Gaulle, I took out my Verizon SIM card, and I put in the orange SIM card. There’s a couple instructions that are laid out very clearly in English and French that you need to follow. But I know that cell plans in France are very affordable, but in the US they’re not. And the international fee for Verizon is $10 a day and I was going to be there total for 15 days. So that’s
Annie Sargent 47:33
Lauren Gibson 47:34
Right? I mean, I’d be $150 but the oranga
Annie Sargent 47:36
I pay 20 a month.
Lauren Gibson 47:39
I, I believe you
Annie Sargent 47:43
And I can roam anywhere in Well, not anywhere in the world, but in like in the US and Canada and places like that. I’m not even roaming.
Lauren Gibson 47:51
That’s incredible. That’s how it works here. Yeah. So although this number may sound high to you, Annie, it was $50 for 10 gigs of data gigabytes of data for 14 days and actually the one that I purchased for some reason they doubled it to 20 gigs I mean, I could have been watching videos my whole trip I don’t think I would have used it up. It’s it’s more than you need, they have a cheaper option that I think is like eight gigs for a little bit less. But I didn’t know I’d be using my my phone quite a bit so I didn’t want to feel you know, strange so to me that to me the $50 it saved me $100 it worked. So well. It was far and above the International Service that I got with Verizon last time because within us,
Annie Sargent 48:41
sorry, but then if you you get a new number, right?
Lauren Gibson 48:46
You do get so yes, there are a few things to keep in mind. You do get a temporary French number. So you have to have a backup plan. I use WhatsApp to communicate with my my family at home. My mom and my husband, and my kids, they, you know, they had my information on WhatsApp, so I could communicate totally as usual, right? messaging, video, all that stuff, right. So you do have to be aware of that. The other key is, you need to have a phone that will let you insert another SIM card. So that generally means that you’ve paid in the US that you finished paying off your monthly payment on your phone to your carrier, because a lot of times it’s locked into that carrier or I had just purchased my phone from Apple. So I didn’t have that.
Annie Sargent 49:36
You weren’t tied to any carriers.
Lauren Gibson 49:37
Yeah, exactly. So you that is critical. If you’re tied to a carrier, I don’t think you can go this route. And you may have to use the international plan that you’re on but if you’re not, or if you have an older phone or you know an older smartphone, or if
Annie Sargent 49:51
you have another smartphone or if I mean really, if worse comes to worse, you could buy a little what’s that Chinese brand of cell phones.
Lauren Gibson 50:02
I don’t know
Annie Sargent 50:03
there’s when you land in Paris. There’s all these little cell things and they sell really cheap. Like 50 bucks, maybe 100. Smartphones unlocked.
Lauren Gibson 50:21
Oh, I haven’t heard of that. Yeah. So
Annie Sargent 50:23
And and they Yeah, they don’t cost much. They’re not the best cell phone you’ve ever had. But if it’s just for two weeks in Paris, you can just keep that one for your vacation in Paris and just stick your orange holiday card in there every time and done.
Lauren Gibson 50:38
Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah. So I think if if the stars kind of align and your cell plan if you can do the orange I’d recommend it because it didn’t kind of blip out on me like the Verizon did international did last time. So better service and more cost effective if you can make it work for you.
Annie Sargent 50:58
Wonderful. Well Thank you so much, Lauren, you’ve been wonderful to talk to and shared some very interesting information. I will put the rest of everything because you really did a lot. Yeah, too much in my opinion. But I’m an old lady, excuse me. So, but but so but I’ll put that in your as your guest notes ever. People can look at it and at least you had everything grouped in areas that made sense. Like, you know, things were all very good and you give lots of restaurant and cafe recommendations with which people seem to love. You know, I’m not someone who looks for those kinds of recommendations because I, I guess, I like to eat so I can spot a good restaurant from a mile away.
Lauren Gibson 51:47
Good for you, some of us are not that talented. Yeah.
Annie Sargent 51:51
And it’s not hard in Paris, honestly. I mean, come on, you’re in Paris. But anyway, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. It has been very informative. And I wish you a great times in Paris next time.
Lauren Gibson 52:06
Thank you so much Annie! Merci ny mercy à vous et au revoir !
Annie Sargent 52:10
You know what makes me happy when people appreciate my work. Here’s another new review of my VoiceMap tour of Montmartre.
Annie Sargent 52:18
I had so much fun doing this audio tour. I actually did this tour in the evening and it was awesome. Also, there were a lot of places that were close to the parks, churches and museums. those sites were quite dramatic at night. There were also not a lot of cars and people in the streets that made my night photos turned out super cool. I enjoyed Annie Sargent style of narrating she has a certain way of making you feel as if you’re living through her stories. I couldn’t stop raving to my boyfriend about how much fun I had. We ended up good doing another kind of any store the next day and he was hooked. Please make more. Thank you. This was so much better than signing up for a group tour. This way you can start and stop when you want. Take your own bathroom and lunch breaks, sit for a while and enjoy the scenery and take as long as you want with taking photos. Super awesome.
Annie Sargent 53:12
Well, thank you so much wherever you are. Unlike the previous review, I have no idea who wrote this one. But your reviews and ratings of the tours are much much appreciated.
Annie Sargent 53:23
Thank you, Caroline. Haha, let me let me get my mouth ready for this one. Sean Berger. Thank you Caroline. Schoenberger, Christina, Brian Perry, Matt killin alita Barry era Oh, that one’s easy, and Janice Heffley for pledging to support the show on Patreon in the last few weeks. patrons enjoy several rewards that you’ll find email@example.com forward slash join us, pa t ar e o n join us and no spaces or dashes. I share exclusive content With my patrons, including help with your French comprehension, stories about France photos and membership into a secret Facebook group, and of course patrons can message me directly through Patreon. And these messages always get top priority.
Annie Sargent 54:15
And I’ve done several of those in the last few weeks. If you’re not sure your itinerary for France is as good as it needs to be. Let me review it for you. It’ll cost you 50 bucks, but you’ll get an hour of my time we’ll talk on the phone will go through the whole thing. And then I will send you my recommendations in writing. And of course, I will custom write to these recommendations for you and your interests. email me at Join Us in france.com to set that up and write itinerary review in the subject line.
Annie Sargent 54:49
My thanks also to Laura pattern, Leslie Raynor, Patricia Rand Kim Terry, who set up a recurring donation through PayPal which is pretty Do these days. So thank you all these people for sending in a one time donation by using the green button on any page on Join Us in France. com that says tip your guide and Lauren says thank you for your sincere authentic podcasts. Many podcasters are advertising for their sponsors. And it is difficult to gauge what is worth our travel time and money. It is refreshing to hear you and your guests true opinions of places and sights.
Annie Sargent 55:30
I’m really glad this matters to you, Laura, because giving the microphone to regular travelers who share their experience matters a lot to me, too, as far as I’m concerned is they are the experts because they just experienced the place and they can report on what it was like with no agenda. And people like you who make a voluntary donation make it possible. So thank you because let’s be real, I have to be able to pay my bills. If there are no patrons or donors, advertisers would be the only way to go And I get at least one or two requests a month from people who would like to advertise on the podcast and so far I have rejected all of them because I’d rather keep going this way and see if I can make a living just selling my tours and being grateful for your donations because I think it’s it’s a better model.
Annie Sargent 56:26
My thanks also to Delphine Brandt for her one time donation. The Delphine is French from Vichy and has been living in the US for 18 years, and she’s bringing a big group of 15 to visit France. She’s not a tour guide, but someone who has a lot of friends who rely on her because you know, she’s French so she knows everything, right? Bonne chance Delphine, that’s a big job!
Annie Sargent 56:54
Thank you also to Cellar Door wine tours for you one time donation this person said your information is worth so much more. Thank you for these podcasts. I feel I will have the vacation of a lifetime and all my planning has been so much easier because of you and the least, we don’t feel like we will be so blind going in for the first time visiting this beautiful city and country.
Annie Sargent 57:18
Wow. Sorry about all the reviews and all that this week since I have. I had banked this last three podcast episodes, I hadn’t had a chance to thank anybody. So now I’m catching up.
Annie Sargent 57:33
All right, and if you’d like to support the show without spending a penny you wouldn’t have otherwise before you go shopping on Amazon, go to the bottom of any page on Join Us in france.com and click on the Amazon ad or the booking.com ad because you go through these sites through Join Us in France. I get a small commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more.
Annie Sargent 57:54
And that’s when when I think for my personal update this week. Well I get Home two weeks ago from a wonderful two weeks in Paris where I have, I wrote and recorded and released the Saint-Germain-des-Prés tour. I also mapped out the upcoming Latin Quarter tours, which I need to right now. But I’m reading a lot of books before I write anything. I read a bunch of books and I tried to go into all these French authors so as to not repeat stuff you’ve seen because if it’s American or English authors, chances are you’ve heard it, but I’m pretty sure a lot of these bloggers who write about France they can’t read a word of French. So that’s my secret weapon.
Annie Sargent 58:43
Anyway, you know, it’s fun to do I it’s a it’s a wonderful way to, to get to know my own country, which was the whole purpose of doing this podcast because like delfina, I was away for a couple of decades and when Come back. You just go, Oh, wow. I understand all the words but none of the meaning what is going on? So it’s, it’s always very interesting. Okay, so I better wrap this up. I’ll tell you much more next week when we I’m going to be recording an episode with Elise to be released next week. So I’m sure we’ll chat some more about my trip to Paris and all of that.
Annie Sargent 59:23
And remember, lots of people don’t think to look for a podcast to help them plan their trip to France. So tell them about it. They’ll find Join Us in France, anywhere they get their podcasts including Spotify, Pandora, Apple podcasts, and anywhere there’s a pocket there are podcasts. And if they don’t listen to podcasts yet, show them how it’s done. It’s easy by now or send them to Join Us in france.com. Send questions or feedback to any at Join Us in France. com. Have a great week of trip planning and I’ll talk to you next week of the Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written Produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2020 by addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution non commercial no derivatives license.
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