Transcript and Photos for Episode 218: 4 Days in Paris

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Annie’s conversation with ScottĀ  starts at 2:00 minutes.

Hotel Recommended in This Episode

Annie Sargent
Bonjour Scott, and welcome to Join Us in France.

Scott Fischer
Thank you Annie. Hello to you.

Annie Sargent
Yes. Well, tell us briefly. We’re talking on Skype. Where do you live?

Scott Fisher
I live in Calgary? Alberta? Canada.

Annie Sargent
Oh, very nice. Is it cold?

Scott Fischer
No, actually, we’re having a pretty typical summer over here. It’s, it’s been nice. We’ve had some hot hot days. We’ve had some cooler summer days. But it’s been good.

Annie Sargent
Oh, good. All right. So how many trips have you done to France so far?

Annie Sargent
Just one.

Scott Fischer
Just one.

Annie Sargent
Just the one. That’s why today we’re going to talk about things that you can do to make your first trip to France better. Since you’re Canadian. Maybe you knew a little bit of French.

Scott Fischer
I know a little bit. I think I know enough, you know, to say hello, and a couple of small phrases. And my wife’s probably better at it than I am. So I let her do some of the talking.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. Did you think that was a hindrance on your trip, or was that fine?

Scott Fischer
No, not at all. We we found most people were pretty receptive. You, you say “bonjour” when you walk into a restaurant and they say Bonjour back. And most people were receptive. They, they knew you weren’t able to maybe communicate. So they helped us out.

Annie Sargent
That’s great. So you went with your wife on this trip?

Scott Fischer
I did. Yes.

Annie Sargent
Mm hmm. Any kids?

Scott Fischer
They did not come along, no.

Annie Sargent
Okay. Okay. Well, that’s, that makes it a little bit easier, doesn’t it?

Scott Fischer
It does. Yes.

Annie Sargent
So, tell me, why did you pick France?

Scott Fischer
We we ended up going to France, because of flights, actually. To get to get to Europe from Calgary. There was a an excellent deal on flights. And we took advantage of that. And we ended up flying into Charles de Gaulle in Paris. And that’s where we started our trip.

Annie Sargent
Very good. And you stayed in Paris, right?

Scott Fischer
We did? Yes.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. How many days?

Scott Fischer
We were there for four days

Annie Sargent
Four days. So it was pretty quick.

Scott Fischer
It was. Yeah, it left a lot of things on the list to do to go back a second time. I know that.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. Was the jet lag a problem? Because that’s barely enough time to get used to the new time.

Paris rooftops and the Eiffel Tower in the fog: 4 days in Paris episode.
Photo Scott Fischer

Scott Fischer
No, we we got in midday on a Sunday. And we just said, once we get in, we have to stay awake. We can’t go have a nap or anything like that. So we started right from right from the point we landed, we just said we have to keep going. And we we headed off once we got into town. So.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, yeah. Excellent. All right. Okay, so how did you find out about the show?

Scott Fischer
I started looking around on the internet and I discovered your podcast and I think I pulled them up on my Spotify and started listening to them. And I told my wife I’d send them to her so you got to listen to this one are you got to listen to that one because you know we may be going there.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. You curated them.

Scott Fischer
I did, I was filtering them for her so that she knew exactly where we would be going, I think.

Staying at a Small Hotel in the Marais

Annie Sargent
Uh huh. Oh, that’s good. Very good. Okay. So where did you choose to stay? What neighborhood of Paris did you pick? And how? I think that’s one of the questions that comes up a lot with people who are preparing their trip to France, to Paris in particular is which, you know, which parts of Paris Are we going to stay in?

Scott Fischer
Yeah, we, we ended up in and now I’ll probably get the name slightly wrong. But I believe it’s wrong. It’s Le Marais.

Annie Sargent
Le Marais, yeah.

Scott Fischer
Yeah. And for us, it was really a couple of things. One was your podcasts on, you know, areas in in Paris and where to stay?

Annie Sargent
Yeah.

Scott Fischer
Another we had come across a young lady who’s a solo traveler, and she had done a blog on places and locations and hotels. And basically, she had stayed in a hotel in very, I guess, very close to where we had stayed. And we started looking around at the prices and next thing you know, we were going okay, this looks like the sort of neighborhood we look for something that was close to the metro that was important to us.

Annie Sargent
Yeah

Scott Fischer
You know, from access standpoint, we also take a look on the Google Maps and see if there’s, you know, restaurants and grocery stores and things like that that are nearby. We like to know where there’s a grocery store so that we can quickly you know, run down grab some water or something to eat.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. And Paris has a lot of small grocery stores in areas like Le Marais, Saint Germain des Pres. There are a lot of, you know, just neighborhood little stores, but they’re great for everyday items.

Scott Fischer
Yeah, and that’s, that’s basically what we were looking for was someplace that we could easily get onto a metro really quickly, we could find whatever we needed if we needed a you know, something to cover up a blister on a foot or something. Yeah. pharmacy nearby, or is there a grocery store because in some cases, we were quite tired from the day and we would go back in the middle of the afternoon and just grab a light snack at the grocery store.

Annie Sargent
That sounds like. Sounds like a good idea. Alright, so you were next to which metro station you remember?

Scott Fischer
Yeah, we were next to the… Which one was it now? I always get it wrong.

Annie Sargent
Saint Paul?

Scott Fischer
Saint Paul, yes.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. Okay. Saint Paul is the major metro station in the Marais. Hey, and when was this trip?

Scott Fischer
We got in the third of June.

Annie Sargent
Okay. 2018.

Scott Fischer
Yes.

Annie Sargent
Okay. So did you go with a hotel, or did you go with an apartment?

Scott Fischer
We went with a hotel. We stayed, we stayed at the hotel de Neuve. And it was, it was really a nice bit of a boutique hotel, but it was a nice accommodation.

Annie Sargent
So, how do you spell that? Hotel de?

Scott Fischer
De Neuve.

Annie Sargent
Okay.

Scott Fischer
And basically, we were we weren’t looking for four star. This is a three star hotel, but it’s comfortable and clean, you know, friendly staff. Very helpful to us when you’re trying to figure out a few of the things that we needed to figure out on our trip.

Annie Sargent
That’s good. Did they have an elevator?

Scott Fischer
And they had an elevator. That was another important aspect.

Annie Sargent
Yeah,

Scott Fischer
You definitely want a hotel with an elevator.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. And air conditioning, maybe?

Scott Ficsher
Yes

Annie Sargent
Yes. Yeah. This year pair in Paris. June wasn’t too tremendously bad. As far as the heat. It was kind of humid but not very, very hot. But some years June even May can be quite hot. Quite warm. So yeah.

Scott Fischer
yes, we we definitely look for those things. Elevator, air conditioning, they were important to us. We had considered b&b. We did look at renting an apartment. We just weren’t really certain whether we wanted to do that. We have done it in other places that we have traveled to. So yeah, it was an option.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, but four days is is short. I think for a rental. I don’t know. I would consider a rental for 5, 6, 7 days or more. But, you know, four days. Yeah, you barely have time to get in that you have to clean it up and leave.

Scott Fischer
Yes. Yeah. And and I think for us, when we looked at it was roughly about the same price range. When we were comparing hotels and b&b. Yeah, the, you know, just because we are two travelers. We weren’t for six or eight,

Annie Sargent
Exactly!

Scott Fischer
Looking cfor a larger accommodation.

Annie Sargent
If you’re bringing your kids, or if you’re going with in-laws or friends or something, then yes, it’s worth looking at Airbnb. For just two people I think a hotel is, is probably a very good choice. All right. So can you tell us some of the things that were your favorite things that you did? And all in those four days?

Scott Fischer
Well, we, we definitely wanted to get out and see the city. We we walked a lot we were doing, I think about 20 kilometers a day of walking.

Annie Sargent
Wow!

Scott Fischer
And, and so, you know, we we love walking around in the neighborhoods. And just seeing the neighborhoods.

Annie Sargent
Yeah.

Favorite Paris Spots for Scott and His Wife

Scott Fischer
And obviously, we also enjoy the museums. There’s some fantastic museums in Paris, and we did go see the Louvre and we did go see the Orsay. For me, probably the most interesting spot was to go to the Arc de Triomphe.

Annie Sargent
Really?

Scott Fischer
Yes. And, and that’s mostly because of my interest in Le tour de France. So.

Annie Sargent
Ah, yes!

Scott Fischer
To be able to be on top of the Arc de Triomphe and look down the Champs Elysees and and see that stretch of road and just just imagine the cyclists racing up and down that road was kind of a that was sort of my, my bucket list item anyway.

Arc de Triomphe with cars driving in front of it and wet pavement. 4 days in Paris episode.
Photo Scott Fischer

Annie Sargent
Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Yes, that’s see that wouldn’t see. That’s why it’s good to talk to different people about their trip to France, because this is not something I would have thought of, to put on anybody’s you know. I mean, I will watch the Tour de France once in a while on TV, but it’s, it’s not like something that I watch every day or anything.

Scott Fischer
Right for me, I’m, I get to work and I bring up the website and I follow the race until the stage is finished that day. And, and, you know, we’ve only got a couple more days left.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, yeah, it’s almost finished. As we record this episode. Yeah, we, we are recording on the 28th of July 2018. So it’s almost over. And I have no idea who’s gonna win!

Scott Fischer
Really, I think until they get to Paris, it might not be decided.

Annie Sargent
So it’s tight.

Scott Fischer
It is yes.

Annie Sargent
That’s cool. That’s very cool. Okay. Yeah, this year, I only had attention for one sporting event. And of course, I watched a little bit of a soccer.

Scott Fischer
Yes.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. Which was, which was a concern for the Tour de France as a matter of fact, because they, they knew that they were gonna have a lot of competition for eyeballs with soccer games. And so they modified the schedule quite a lot, just to just to be able to, you know, to get enough viewers that it would be. Because it’s very popular in France and elsewhere, obviously, but right. If it’s competing with other major sports events, it’s it can be a problem,

Scott Fisher
Right.

Annie Sargent
Okay. So the Arc de Triomphe was your favorite. Maybe what was your wife’s favorite?

Scott Fischer
Definitely museums are her thing. So and I was talking to her about this last night and I asked her I said, so which museum did you enjoy the most? Because we went to the Louvre, the Orsay, we went to the Picasso Museum and the Rodin Museum.

Annie Sargent
Wow!

Scott Fischer
And for her the Wings of Victory in the Louvre is, is a big highlight. Ah, and she really enjoyed seeing the, that particular piece. And yeah, and the Louvre itself was fantastic. Yeah, she does absolutely love the Orsay and the Impressionists as well. So there’s a couple of Monet pictures in the Orsay that she really enjoyed getting a chance to see, so.

courtyard with French Sculptures in the Louvre: 4 days in Paris episode
Photo Scott Fischer

Annie Sargent
To see that for real, yeah, it’s a bit makes a big difference. I’ve I’ve had people that I have taken on tours and stuff, and they and they just stop in front of a painting. And I have a print of this in my house, right? And they’re always very excited to see it for real, you know, cuz, yeah, it’s better! The real thing is better!

Scott Fischer
It is. And I think even the fact that everyone loves to go see the Mona Lisa. And we certainly were a couple of people that went and stood nearby first thing in the morning when the crowd was small.

Annie Sargent
Oh, that good!

Scott Fischer
But but we did find, you know, we found other little nooks and crannies that we we certainly enjoyed seeing different bits and pieces of art. And my wife has spent an entire week in the Met in New York. So, you know, she was very ready to see some of the other pieces that were in the Orsay and the Louvre as well.

Annie Sargent
She knew what she wanted.

Scott Fischer
Exactly, yes.

Annie Sargent
And that’s really important.

Scott Fischer
And the Picasso Museum was quite interesting. I found it quite interesting. You know, it’s a much smaller Museum, but it fit into our schedule, because we had certain things that we were doing in different parts of the day. And we only spent a couple of hours at the Picasso and same thing for the Rodin Yeah. Yeah. To see the the thinker and the buhrger meisters was was quite interesting.

Annie Sargent
Yeah. And besides, you were staying in the Marais, so you’re quite close to the Picasso Museum, you know, you might as well enjoy it.

Scott Fischer
Right. And then give us a chance to sort of explore that area as well. There’s some unique little shops and some neat neat shopping and stuff up in that area as well.

Museum Pass: How It Works and Who Needs It

Annie Sargent
Mm hmm. And so you went to you got the museum pass, right?

Scott Fischer
We did? Yes.

Annie Sargent
Right. What did what did you think? Was that a good deal for you?

Scott Fischer
It did it. It worked very well. For us. We purchased it at the Rodin Museum, which was the first museum we went to. And from that point forward, we were able to get into the museums quickly because you don’t have to stand in the ticket line.

Annie Sacrgent
Right.

Scott Fischer
And it did work very well. We might, we got really good value I think having that.

Annie Sargent
And it’s honestly, I recommend it for every everyone who thinks they’re going to go into museums. If you if you’re not going to see any museums, obviously, there’s no point. But there are people who do the math, you know, they say, oh, well, to make it worth it you have to go see two museums a day and blah, blah, blah. Yeah, I don’t really I don’t think that’s where the real value of it is. The value is you get in quickly. And yes. And if you if for some reason, you need to exit the museum because you’re not feeling well. Or and you think you’ll go back later, you can totally do that. And I think it’s, it’s a really easy way. And you did it right. You purchased it at the first museum you went to, which is the Rodin museum. It’s not one that has huge lines, typically. So So you didn’t have to wait very long even to buy in first place?

Scott Fischer
No, no, in our intention was to go to the Louvre for a portion of a day. And then to actually go back and evening, huh, that didn’t happen. Because we ended up spending an entire day in the Louvre, which was wonderful, but just kind of a change of plans. But like you say, if we did want to go back for a second visit, having the pass would allow us to do right would have been nice.

Annie Sargent
Right. And I definitely don’t recommend that you go line up to get your museum pass at the Louvre. Because the line there can be really long. So if you know, your first museum is going to be the Louvre, then probably a good way to buy your pass is at the tourist info desks at the airport.

Scott Fischer
Yes

Stained Glass Window at the Sainte Chapelle. 4 days in Paris episode.
Photo Scott Fischer

Annie Sargent
You can just stop at one of them. They’re really easy to find they are obvious, in the in the way, and yeah, stop there. And you can buy your museum pass, you can get information about various things. I think that’s a good plan.

Scott Fischer
And that was our intention as well was when we landed in Charles de Gaulle was to look for an information desk to buy the pass from. What had happened, though, was we had arranged for a car service and the fellow was waiting right there for us when we got out. Kinda kind of ushered a straight out to the car. And next thing I know we were on our way into Paris.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, you skip that. You skip that part. Yeah, well, that’s okay. That’s okay. And just to mention, for, you know, people who are new listeners, you can also buy the museum pass in various places in Paris. One thing I wouldn’t mess with is getting them sent to my house, because you never know with the mail, you might get them too late or something. So just just either the visitors info booth at the airport, or if you first museum is going to be a minor Museum, then go to that.

Difference Between the Paris Pass and the Museum Pass

Annie Sargent
And I also want to mention that and this is another question that comes up a lot: the Paris Pass, is it worth it? There’s a big difference between the Paris Pass and the Museum Pass. The Paris Pass is pretty much a museum pass, plus a transportation pass, and they probably have other goodies. I haven’t researched it in detail, but you end up paying a lot more than if you were buying your Museum Pass and your Metro tickets or metro card separately. So I don’t recommend that you go with Paris Pass

Scott Fischer
The one thing that we were not sure of when we bought the museum pass. And, and as you mentioned, having it delivered to the house. So for us, the shipping fees for that particular pass to come to Calgary are quite high.

Annie Sargent
Right.

Scott Fischer
And and that was enough for us to say, we’re not going to do that. We’re not going to worry about it.

Annie Sargent
There is no need.

Scott Fischer
And the only concern we had was, we didn’t know if we had to book particular time for accessing a museum. When when we had the pass, would we have to have our pass information in order to book a time to enter or something like that. And I think I’d actually posted something to the Facebook group and asked about it. And I did get a response back saying, No, no, you don’t need to worry about that, right, just get your pass. And you skip all of the the ticket lines, and all that stuff. And you go in a separate entrance.

Annie Sargent
Right. So your choices in Paris are either you don’t buy anything in advance, and you will be standing standing in very long unpleasant lines for both buying the ticket and security. Or your second choice is you buy the museum pass, which allows you quick entrance at any time.

Annie Sargent
So you don’t have to tell them when you’re coming. You can just go right in whenever you’re ready. Or you could also buy timed tickets for specific museums. And this is good for people who don’t want to go see many museums, but they happen to want to go see the Orsay or the Louvre then they go to their website and they say okay, I’m going to come to the Orsay at that time. You know, and they give you a kind of a bracket like you, you know, you come at 10 or you come at 11 or something, you know, and and that’s that’s also another way to do it. Where you don’t wait very long at all. But the worst way is to not plan anything and not have a museum pass because then the lines can be very, very long. I’m talking hours.

Scott Fischer
Yes, we discovered that on our way around, heading to the Orsay we ended up in that particular section of the city and thought, well, we’ll just we’ll just go since we’re right here. Yeah. And we came around the corner and the lineup was very large. So we change plants. Hmm.

Annie Sargent
So even from museum pass line was long? Because you enter at a different place.

Scott Fischer
They they had us in the security line with everybody.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, the security.

Scott Fischer
And so once we got through the security line, then we were able to bypass the ticket section. And I go in, but when we got there, it was middle of the day. And the lineup was quite large. So we just decided we’ll come back on in a morning when we can get here slightly at the opening.

Annie Sargent
And just to finish up on the museum pass. If you’re coming to Paris with teenagers or children, they do not need a museum pass. They will… Most museums in Paris are free for kids under 18. Now, theoretically, the rule is European kids under 18. But I’ve never seen that being enforced anywhere. Because they really don’t have the time to ask you for your papers and see if your kid was really born in the EU and all but now England is in the EU. And you know, it’s too complicated. So they just any children…

Annie Sargent
The only time when they might question it is if your kid is 17 and often American, North American kids look older, because they’re taller. And it just seemed to mature faster. I don’t know. And so and so they might question is, this person looks 21 to me, not 18 or not 17, you know, right? But you don’t need to take you don’t need to buy a museum pass for your kids. And that’s the other problem with the Paris Pass is that they make you buy one for your kids too when they know very well that they don’t need those tickets. It’s I think it’s a ripoff. But okay, that’s just me.

Annie Sargent
Alright, so how did you get around Paris? You walked a lot you said.

Scott Fischer
We did, yes. We we basically took the metro when we wanted to make large kind of leaps across the city. And then whatever station we we’re coming out at. And then we would certainly just start walking and especially on our first day was really kind of a, you know, you’re tired from the flight and everything else. But we just said okay, well, we know from our hotel, we know Notre Dame is roughly in that direction. We just started walking in and heading in that direction. And you start to see things and you wander and meander through each one of those little sections as you go.

How Did You Navigate Around Paris?

Annie Sargent
Yeah, yeah. So did you when you were walking like that? What did what did you do to break things up? Did you stop at cafes? Did you have ice cream? Things? Whatever meals?

Scott Fischer
Yeah, yeah, we took time to wander into some of the small parks and stuff like that. And I’m, I had my camera with me all the time. So I was certainly stopping and taking photos of buildings and things and people, the flowers, amazing smelling roses in Paris. I don’t know what what it is about the roses in, in France, but they smell tremendously.

Seine River at sunset with light streaks from boats. 4 days in Paris episode.

Annie Sargent
They like they like the climate! Roses like the climate here.

Scott Fischer
Yeah, they just were very noticeable. But for us, yeah, it was really just a case of, even though we covered a lot of distance, was not to make it a sprint or anything. It was much more of a you know, if we felt like sitting down at a cafe, we would, or we would find a park where there was a park bench and just sit down for a bit. And people watch and, you know, maybe even check the map a little bit and figure out roughly where we were going next.

Annie Sargent
So do you use the paper map?

Scott Fischer
We had one from the hotel, and it was it was good, but it was was mostly Google Maps. And my wife had downloaded, I think, a couple of self guided walking tours as well. And I had also pulled down a couple of items from your podcast from your website from the join us in France website where you would put here’s a, here’s a few various things that you can do and wander through and see. So we had some of those that we had put into PDF and she had them on her phone so we would occasionally kind of be thumbing through a PDF to figure out well, okay, they mentioned this one. Where’s that? Yeah, you know, you start to kind of plot your course. Roughly through the neighborhood.

Do You Need a Metro Pass?

Annie Sargent
Yeah, yeah, that’s good. So you you didn’t get a metro pass. You just get Metro tickets.

Scott Fischer
We just bought tickets. Yeah, we, we looked at the metro pass. And we decided since we were doing and this was basically after the first day since we were doing the walking and we found the walking easy enough to do that we really didn’t see the value in having a full pass and we just bought the individual trip tickets which were very simple you know it I found the metro system in Paris, extremely easy to use walked up, you walk you selected English on the on the machine and you just pick your book of 10 tickets and it would print out your 10 tickets kind of thing. It was pretty straightforward. And yeah, you know, easy access through the turnstile and onto the metro. And yeah,

Annie Sargent
My only problem with Metro tickets is that I always… I use for my cell phone, I use a magnifying things with sticks in my car, and I can get it to stick to my wallet, whatever. And that always erasses my Metro tickets, and so I have to keep them really separate from my cell phone or they get de-magnetised right, and then you have to go stand in line and get them to issue you know, re-magnities them and you get and I get a lecture every time: Don’t keep them next to your cell phone!

Scott Fischer
Yeah, we didn’t run into any major problems using the metro and using the tickets. It was probably I think the only thing was I left I think I might have left a couple in my shirt pocket. We didn’t know where they were.

Annie Sargent
That’s okay. I just FYI, everybody. When you use the metro in Paris, you have to keep your ticket until you exit because they will check them. Did you get checked in the four days?

Scott Fischer
No, we didn’t. We didn’t see anyone coming through the car or anything like that. That was asking for verifcation, so.

Is Paris Safe?

Annie Sargent
it’s usually at this turnstiles that they that they check. So you need to keep it the whole time you’re in the metro. When you’re out. You’re fine. You can throw them away. But yeah. O kay. Did you feel safe in Paris?

Scott Fischer
Yeah, we did. We we certainly wandered around a lot. And don’t think at any point, we felt like we had watched wandered into a neighborhood where we felt uncomfortable the tourist areas, you know, there’s, there’s, we certainly experienced, like, I’m sure most people do, you know, the people coming up to you trying to sell you something. Or trying to get you to the typical little scary things, you know, like, sign my petition stuff and whatnot. But yeah, we experienced all that. And we just, we had already known about the fact again, you know, the podcasts helped a lot with that.

Annie Sargent
Yeah.

Scott Fischer
Because knowing what those scams are, you can immediately just dismiss the people and just tell them no, and…

Annie Sargent
No, and walk on.

Scott Fisher
Yeah, just keep moving, and so on. So, we never felt like we were in any particular danger anywhere. We certainly noticed a couple of times, there was the police were present just in a in a general fashion, not in any moment, emergency situation or anything like that. But they were there and especially around the Eiffel Tower. Yeah, certainly. A lot more of them.

Annie Sargent
Oh, yeah.

Scott Fischer
And, and, you know, again, we, there’s plenty of people around on the park up front, and so on. So, yeah, we felt really comfortable. And we did go out in the evenings, I did some night photography and wandered around, you know, on some of the side streets and stuff like that, taking photos. And we never felt like we had any concerns. It was very comfortable most most of the time, I think it’s just the typical precautions, you know, you don’t, don’t to leave your bag unattended on the sidewalk sort of thing. And don’t, you know, don’t flash stuff around too much. Don’t have your phone out unless you absolutely need to. Those sorts of things help.

Annie Sargent
Right. And also you know what, unfortunately, when people get robbed, it’s often that somebody will grab something small that you have. So it’s going to be your your phone or your wallet, something small that they can grab and run. And typically those sorts of theft. It happens in the metro. Right as the doors are going to close. Or in a in a train. Right, as the doors are gonna close. Because they time it, you know, they watch you with your phone in your hand from behind. And then did you grab it and run and there’s not a thing you can do.

Scott Fisher
Yeah, and we, we were very conscious on the metro, there was no point that we pull up cell phones, or even for me, my camera was in I had a particular camera bag with me and my camera was always put away so that it wasn’t I didn’t set it on my lap or anything like that.

Scott Fischer
From a walking around standpoint. Initially, I we did have money belts, we did you we did use some occasionally, but most of the time I kept my wallet in my front shirt pocket, and I didn’t have any problems. I might have had a couple of… a couple Euro in my front pocket. And that would be about it. Just some loose change really. And my wife, she carried a small, smaller purse that she could just sling across and keep in front of her and and that’s the way she traveled. And we left the you know, the the passports were not with us out on the streets or anything like that. So, but yeah, we never ran into any situations that I would say we felt uncomfortable even. And we certainly saw, like I say all those typical scams that go on. But yeah, you know, like you say, you just simply tell them no, and carry on and do what you’re doing. And for the most part, they didn’t harass us beyond, you know, trying to approach you. And once they realize that you weren’t interested, that left us alone.

Facade of Ecole Militaire with Dome of the Invalides in the background: 4 days in Paris episode.
Facade of Ecole Militaire with Dome of the Invalides in the background. Photo Scott Fischer.

What Photography Equipment to Pack for Paris

Scott Fischer
Mm hmm. So I want to talk with you about photography little bit. You mentioned it some already, but you sent me some. I ask everybody who comes on the podcast to send me some photos. And I noticed yours right away because they were obviously very high quality photos taken with the DSLR. You know, nice camera. So I want to hear more. What’s your photography setup? And, and what did you think about doing photos in Paris?

Scott Fischer
Well, first thing I thought of when we booked the trip was this is the city of lights. So, a person needs to, you know, go and take some photos at night because it’s a city that is just absolutely beautiful at night. For me from a camera perspective, I shoot with a Nikon D810 so it’s a little bit bigger camera.

Annie Sargent
Yeah

Scott Fischer
I was traveling with three lenses and, and a tripod.

Annie Sargent
Ouf!

Scott Fischer
And yeah, I was it was a justification for a very light travel tripod, so.

Annie Sargent
Ah, that’s what I need! I took my tripod out last night. And it must weigh 10 kilos. Yeah, I have to sell this thing and get a normal tripod! This is ridiculous!

Scott Fischer
Yeah, no, I did manage to find a reasonably priced carbon fiber tripod, which was travel sized. And, and it worked excellent for the trip. But I I actually did a little bit of looking on a couple of websites. I use 500PX and I was looking at people that went to Paris. So I just searched for Paris. And there’s lots of photography in Paris. And I looked at the lenses that people were using for their images. And most people were shooting a 24 to 70 lens. So that was have one and, and that’s my, my main lens. And I figured, okay,

Annie Sargent
That’s the one I use all the time in Paris.

Scott Fischer
Yeah. And so that was my intention was, I’ll take a 24 to 70. And that will be my main walk around lens. I carried a small 35 millimeter prime, just in case something happened to the 24 to 70.

Annie Sargent
Oh, OK.

Scott Fischer
And then and then my wife says, bring your bring your big zoom lens. She’s like, well, you might need that and I really hummed and hawed about it, because I didn’t think I would, but I did throw it in the bag, so.

Annie Sargent
How big?

Scott Fischer
It’s a 70 to 200.

Annie Sargent
Okay, yeah, we have pretty much the same setup. Except, I’m Canon, but same.

Taking a Night Photography Tour in Paris

Scott Fischer
Right. And so when we were out, I actually I did use all three of my lenses in various at various time. So on days, when we were specifically the Louvre is a great example. I didn’t want to carry a big camera in the Louvre. So I just threw the small 35 millimeter lens on the front. And it’s a lot lighter setup. And it doesn’t feel like you’re dragging a boat anchor with you. But from a photography standpoint, I did do a photo walk with, with a group in in Paris. And so I used Aperture Tours was the group that I had used. And I scheduled, they have various tours, so I scheduled a night one. Because I wanted to actually do some night photography. And I felt these people might have a bit better idea where to photograph some of the locations at night.

Annie Sargent
Sure!

Scott Fischer
And so obviously going out with them, they might have a little bit more of a, an insight as to how to get from one location to another a little quicker, and so on. So but…

Annie Sargent
So, where did they take you?

Scott Fischer
We started off at the Louvre.

Annie Sargent
Yeahc

Scott Fischer
And unfortunately, you got here.

Annie Sargent
Exterior?

Scott Ficsher
Yeah, the Louvre, the gates closed, so we couldn’t get in to the square, by the by the pyramids.

Annie Sargent
Oh!

Scott Fischer
And there was some event or something going on, which was unfortunate. But we did. We did do some photography in and around there. And then we headed over towards Notre Dame and we did some photography from along the side of the Seine River and towards Notre Dame. And then we did some side streets. So we were just meandering down some side streets and look for some interesting buildings and that sort of thing.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, Ile Saint Louis and Ile de la Cite have some interesting tiny streets. There’s a few places with like, interesting steps and, and vines that just happened to grow in the right place. You know, it’s, it’s cool.

Scott Fischer
Yes. And that’s, that’s exactly what we were looking for is that sort of thing. And then we we made our way back over to the far side of the the Louvre, we were looking for an interesting angle.

Scott Fischer
And I think we were in the sort of on the edge of the Tuileries there. And we took a shot of the Eiffel Tower over top of the city as it was sparkling, of course.

Annie Sargent
Of course!

Scott Fischer
And then we made our way back to the Louvre. And the interesting thing was, whatever was going on, had finished, but they had gates up so you couldn’t actually get near the entrance. And so our guide, and it was just me, the guide, and my, my wife. And so he’s like, let’s just see how far we can go. So we started wandering, and we wandered past the gate, and I guess the event must have been pretty much over something. But they never said anything. And we ended up on the backside of the pyramid and were able to get a wonderful photograph of the pyramid with nobody in it.

Annie Sargent
That’s cool.

Scott Fischer
And so yeah, it actually turned out really well that way.

Annie Sargent
And could you could you see the, the fencing whatever they were using to keep people out?

Tour With Paris Greeter

Scott Fischer
No, no, we, we framed it up so that we didn’t get a lot of that in the shot. So that’s but and then, you know, from a photography standpoint, like I say, I was doing a lot of street photography, because we are certainly exploring neighborhoods, we did, we, we did a walk with a Paris greeter.

Annie Sargent
Oh, cool!

Scott Fischer
And they showed us around their neighborhood that they grew up in, and they still live in.

Annie Sargent
Which nceighborhood was that?

Scott Fischer
That was over and is it the 16th arrondissement?

Annie Sargent
Somebody posh!

Scott Fisher
We got off at La Muette station. And yeah, and they were basically showing us the architecture and then there’s a couple of main are architects have built a lot of buildings in that area. And so yeah, a lot of building photography at that point, which I don’t really have a I don’t have a tilt shift lens to, you know, straighten up the buildings with, but.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, I don’t have that either.

Deserted Paris street at night with cars and trees and wet pavement. 4 days in Paris episode.
Photo Scott Fischer

Scott Fischer
And I think that’s something you know, there’s Paris is one of those cities for me, there was just a never ending list of things that you know, I was, I was taking pictures of stairwells as, as you were asking me, yeah, I loved looking for circular stairwells in that city. And, and there’s, there’s a number of them, if you can, you know, sort of spend some time you’ll find one somewhere in your travels.

But yeah, we we, generally speaking, we were taking a lot of holiday snaps, and then every once in a while I was allowed to, you know, sort of spend a little bit more time and, you know, actually think about what I was photographing, maybe do a little bit more money composing and take a little more serious shot. But interestingly enough, a couple of my couple of my favorite shots actually came off the balcony of our hotel room and we we were lucky enough that we were on the top floor and had a small balcony off the top and I just pulled up the tripod and my long lens and I got a couple of wonderful shots

Annie Sargent
Yeah, so you could see the rooftops.

Scott Fischer
Yeah, the rooftops. Amazing, amazing views of rooftops. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And sunsets. I don’t, what do you guys do over there? Do you have… Do you have some sort of deal going on? Because they have just the most amazing cloud and sunsets over there? It’s just beautiful.

Annie Sargent
June had a lot of a lot of rain this year in June. So you probably had a lot of clouds coming in and leaving and clearing out the the, you know, when it rains a little bit every day then the the air is clean, and it’s really good for pictures.

Scott Fischer
Yeah! And we went out one evening on our own after it did it was it had been raining for a little while. And so of course, the streets are nice and wet, which are wonderful for night photography.

Annie Sargent
Yes!

Scott Fischer
And I was more more specifically looking for that wonderful, typical Paris Street, maybe with some cobbles. If you could find some cobbles and managed to find a side street in in our area around the hotel and took a couple of nice photos. There was some light trails from the cars and that sort of things. Mm hmm.

Annie Sargent
How much did you use your tripod?

Scott Fischer
I used it probably every day. Generally speaking, I didn’t take it with us during the day. It wasn’t wasn’t something I was going to carry around all the time. But it does definitely as we when we went out in the evening. It was with us all the time.

Annie Sargent
And how much photo processing did you do?

Scott Ficsher
I use Photoshop, Lightroom. And I don’t do a lot of stuff to most of my images. But I do

Annie Sargent
Oh, there is a couple I can tell you fixed them!

Scott Fischer
Oh, yeah. Throw a little contrast into them. And, you know, bring up the shadows in the highlights, that kind of thing. So, yeah, I mean, I certainly do that part of it. I don’t, I’m not a person that’ll not typically a person that will spend hours editing a single image. I’m a more of a five to 10 minute guy.

Annie Sargent
Right, yeah, that’s what I do, too. And I only do Lightroom. I mean, I just very recently, I bought a software called Affinity Photos. And that’s kind of a an easy Photoshop. It’s much easier than Photoshop, which is what because I didn’t really want to take the time to learn Photoshop. I don’t need it. You know, I can do whatever I need in Lightroom for the most part,

Scott Fischer
Right? So anyway, yeah.

Annie Sargent
But so I will invite everybody to go look at the website and go look at Scott’s photos. They’re very nice. There. You already sent me some some very nice photos.

Scott Fischer
Well, you’re welcome. I was kind of I’d like like to give back because your podcasts and your help made our trip much better. I know that we know that’s good ourselves.

Annie Sargent
That’s good. Hey, tell me you had had… Did you have tips for how to stay on a budget in Paris?

Scott Fischer
We use a travel app called trip claim. Oh, and because our trip was larger than just the stop in Paris, we actually did travel further into Europe, we ended up seeing scix, six cities in six countries, over three over three weeks.

Annie Sargent
Wow!

Using Apps in Paris

Scott Fisher
But what we did was this, this particular app allowed us to break down or expenses based on categories. And then it also allowed us to break it down based on locations. So we, we had the ability to see how much we had spent on meals or groceries or, you know, we were we weren’t bringing a bunch of souvenirs back or anything. So there wasn’t much spending in that category. But for us, it just allowed us to sort of compare.

Scott Fischer
Well, was Paris less expensive than we traveled to Bruges and Amsterdam and a few other locations, but you know, which, which cities were most expensive? And interestingly enough, well, Paris was we spent more time in Paris than any other city, it was definitely a little more expensive. The number two city on our list was Venice. We were there for three days in Venice, and it was almost as expensive as as four days in Paris.

Annie Sargent
Wow. Yes. That would make it more twice as expensive as Paris. Yeah, yeah.

Scott Fisher
It’s, it’s, it’s not a cheap place Venice. They certainly are. They their hotels are expensive there. Much like, I mean, Paris is not a cheap place to stay from a hotel perspective either.

Annie Sargent
Mm hmm. Very good. So that was a trip coin you said?

Scott Fischer
Yeah, that’s the App, it’s called trip coin.

Annie Sargent
Interesting. Interesting. So what do you wish you had known before you went or that you had done differently maybe?

One Regret: No Time for Versailles

Scott Fischer
Um, I think we were fairly well prepared for most of what we did, I don’t think we, we loved… I shouldn’t say that Versailles. We were, we were really, unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough time to go to Versailles. Right. And, you know, we were not really well prepared for train strikes. I know that we, that was certainly not on our radar when we were looking in booking stuff. And I think those were the, a couple of the things that when we look back on it, we weren’t like, yeah, we we wouldn’t have thought of that stuff. You know, that’s, that’s a very like the train strikes situation. Obviously, you can’t necessarily plan that it’s just, it’s just something that is very different to have a strike here in in in Canada, if they had a strike of that type. It’s it’s different. It’s, the behaviors different and the impacts are different

Annie Sargent
Well, and this this particular strike was very different than the other ones that they had before. And I’m hoping that they will learn that didn’t they didn’t gain anythingc by going on strike so long. The law they did not want pasted handedly so they they didn’t get any of the things they wanted to get. And so like, well, maybe you should rethink your strategy here? But I don’t know if they’re going to do that. I’m hoping I’m hoping we’ll see.

Scott Fisher
Yeah, and and then the other item was Versailles and we really wish we maybe had taken an extra day in our trip and had left ourselves time to go to Versailles. But then again…

Annie Sargent
You did not go at all?

Scott Fischer
No, no, just and again, much thanks to you folks was just listening to your podcast, help us understand how big of a trip Versailles is. And yeah, in terms of if you get out there, you probably do want to spend the entire day out there and explore and see it.

Annie Sargent
Probably, and if you don’t have the time and you want to see something like Versailles, you could go to Palais Garnier which is that sort of over the top ornate beautiful place. It’s from a different time period somewhat but it’s but it’s that sort of like it’s very showy very showy place of course Versailles is full of history it’s it’s completely different but if if you if you want to see gold and and shiny Palais Garnier is another good choice.

Scott Fischer
And again, we know there’s lots of things on the list to do in Paris. So we’re gonna have to come back. And you know, the other side of that is we I think the next time we would probably venture out a little further into France and see some more France in general.

Visiting 6 Countries in 3 Weeks

Annie Sargent
Yeah. Overall, did you think it was a good idea to do six countries?

Scott Fischer
Oh, yeah, yeah. Hey, we went on the idea. And I think you might have planted this one in my head, make sure you spend three days and maybe what I’ll do is just, we went to Paris to start. Then we went up to Bruges in Belgium. And then we went to Amsterdam, down to Prague, over to Vienna, and then down to Venice, and then back to Paris, and then home.

Scott Fischer
And we only spent two days in Bruges, which was, in our opinion, enough time, excuse me, in that city. But the the other cities we spent three and we never felt rushed, and we certainly enjoyed all of those cities, and all the all the interesting things that they have to offer and got a chance to see them and experience them.

Scott Fischer
I traveled to Prague previously on many, many years ago, I had been in Prague for for another reason. But the the traveling part of it wasn’t bad. We enjoyed the train travel. I know that that was probably one of our favorites is just getting on the train and traveling to the city.

Annie Sargent
So yeah. Oh, cool. Very good. All right. Did I forget to mention any other things you had prepared to share with everybody?

Scott Fischer
Um, I don’t think so. I think we covered off quite a bit of it. You know, for us, just traveling by ourselves without kids was was Yeah. Well, it was fun. It was certainly certainly a our kids are older. They’re adults anyway. So, yeah, yeah. They, they, they would have enjoyed the trip anyway. But no, I think we’ve touched on all of the aspects of what we what we did when we were there.

Annie Sargent
You know, it’s, it’s different type of trip. When you’re with your when you’re with family, it’s completely different. When you bring your kids when they’re young. Well, that’s one type of trip. And you come with your adult children. That’s a different type of trip. You know, it’s it’s all it all changes everything. It’s very nice once in a while to just go with your spouse and just have a good time.

Scott Fischer
I’m like, you know, for us, it was it was an opportunity to see Paris city that we talked about going to a few times and never had a chance to. My wife is adamant that we definitely have to go back and see more of it, because there’s still so much more to see. And I think, you know, being there the first time, we’re much more comfortable going there a second time. Sure. And, you know, the, the concerns. I my wife had a bit of concern with me taking my camera, but I was pretty adamant that it had to go, I can’t go to a city like Paris and not have it.

Annie Sargent
That would have been sad. Because you you do good photography. So that would have been Yeah, yeah. And would you take the 200 again?

Scott Fischer
Yes, I would actually, I used it throughout the trip. Occasionally. It was nice to have it when I had it. And again, just, you know, one of those things when, when you’re there, and you’re 90% of the time, I would imagine if I looked at my photos, 90% of them are probably shot on my 24-70. Yeah, but but there are a few other photos shot with my 70 to 200 that I am really glad I had it when I when I was there, because I wouldn’t have got the composition the way I got it.

Annie Sargent
Right. Right. Right.

deserted Paris street at night: 4 days in Paris Episode

Scott Fischer
But, you know, and just that whole camera business, I don’t think I don’t think anyone ever once was, you know, looking at me to try and, you know, grab my camera or anything, I use a risk cuff, you know, to keep it on my wrist. But, you know, take my picture, put it back in the bag. Yeah, move on, and that sort of thing. So, I felt very comfortable having it with me the whole time.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, yeah, I’ve had a similar setup with me on many trips to Paris and other places in France. And it’s, it’s, I never feel like it’s a threat, having a camera that they will try and take it from you. That never happened.

Scott Fischer
Yeah, and then I know you and I kind of chit chatted a bit about the hotel side of things. We we had looked at booking our hotel through a booking site. And we had looked at the typical ones that you know, the bed go to booking.com, all those various ones. And we ended up actually, I stumbled onto someone’s note at some point saying, check with the hotel’s website, because we were booking our hotel quite quite a ways in advance.

Scott Fischer
And if you sometimes check with the hotels, they actually have better prices on their on the rooms. And we ended up in our case, we ended up getting a larger room with a balcony on the top floor, which was nice. And it was the same price as what we were going to get from the booking sites, which would have just been a standard room.

Scott Fischer
That aspect was something that we we didn’t realize. So then, of course, you you start looking around a little bit more of hotels, and you start to go Okay, walls, instead of just checking, you know, the typical hotel websites all alone, specifically around each one of the hotels.

Annie Sargent
Yes, it’s a different process. But yes, you can totally do that. And you can often get a little bit better deal. It’s not, you know, it’s not going to be, you know, 50% less. But occasionally, you, you get, you know, five to 10% discount just because you went to the trouble of finding the hotel website and doing that. Or calling them you could call them to sometimes, you know, I always call hotels. I am old fashioned that way. I just like to call the hotel and talk to them.

Scott Fischer
Yeah, the hotel for us was really, they were really great. Like, they were the ones that arranged the, the car service for us and picked us up at the airport. We originally planned on just using public transport, but then we weren’t sure because of the the train strikes sort of seemed to spill over to some of the public transit systems at times too, so.

Why the RER Line Between CDG and Paris Can Be a Problem

Annie Sargent
Yes, it does because, okay, this is crazy. But that line that goes to Charles de Gaulle, CDG the airport, it’s an RER line, and it is owned and operated by both RATP, which is the Paris metro system, and SNCF, which is the National train system. So at one point, the tracks they get there, they’re managed in the city, they’re managed for how they’ve been and at one point, and I don’t know where exactly that point is, it switches to the train system. That’s why that line when there’s a strike that line is, is there a lot of problems with it, because it’s no matter who’s striking you are sure to hit a strike!

And besides, I really think that is so much nicer to take either… Personally, I prefer the taxis because cause it’s a set rate. And you can just whenever you arrive, you go in line for your taxi. In your case, you would have paid 55 euros because you were going to left bank and yeah, it’s, it’s a good way to do it. And you don’t have anybody waiting for you. Like, you know, you don’t feel like you have to rush

Scott Fischer
Yeah, and we’ve used car services like that New York before and yeah, the fellow was, was great. You know, he was, yeah, here we go. And jump in the car. And right, no time at all. We’re at our hotel. And yeah, we were like, yeah, there was a lot less stress, especially since you’re coming off a long flight. Yeah. Good. Tired.

Annie Sargent
Yeah, it works. It’s good. It’s very good. Okay. Well, Scott, thank you so much for coming on the show and talking to me and sharing your experiences. And I think you had some good tips for everybody. And, well, Happy travels.

Scott Fischer
Thank you very much. And appreciate all the effort that you guys put into your podcasts. It’s it’s like I say it certainly helped make our trip that much better, so.

Annie Sargent
Wonderful. Au revoir Scott!

Scott Fischer
Au revoir !

Paris rooftops and the Eiffel Tower in the fog: 4 days in Paris episode.
Photo Scott Fischer
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First Time in Paris, Paris