Transcript for Episode 456: Surviving Paris for Newbies

Category: First Time in Paris


[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 456. Quatre cent cinquante-six.

[00:00:22] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy, and news related to travel to France.

Today on the podcast

[00:00:37] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a trip report with Erin Tridle. I’m calling this episode Surviving France because my guest, Erin Tridle wrote a guide that contains a lot of sensible pieces of advice for people who are visiting France for the first time.

[00:00:53] Annie Sargent: She’s been coming to France a lot, as a matter of fact, when we talked she was about to marry a Frenchman. I’m not sure if it happened yet or not, but. Erin is young. She actually has a TikTok channel. I want to bring in more young people into the show, but you know what? The good advice she shares is great at any age.

[00:01:11] Annie Sargent: So this is a great episode for people who are visiting France for the first time, or those who visited a while back and perhaps forgot how things work in France. If you know a young person who’s going to be visiting France soon, share this episode with them. I’m sure they’ll be very happy to hear from Erin.

Podcast supporters

[00:01:30] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. And you can browse all of that at my boutique And if you just want to see the details about the tours and read the reviews, go to

The Magazine part of the podcast

[00:01:54] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview today, I’ll discuss how not to get a ticket when driving in France. You have some bad habits, North American drivers, you do. And many of you get tickets and one of you decided that it’s a conspiracy. More of that after the interview.

[00:02:15] Annie Sargent: And a quick correction, we apologize for misstating the name of Colson Whitehead in podcast episode number 455.

[00:02:24] Annie Sargent: I have corrected the transcript and the show notes.

Surviving France


[00:02:27] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Erin Tridle and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:02:41] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Annie.

[00:02:42] Annie Sargent: Wonderful to talk to you today. We want to talk because you are engaged to be married to a French person. You have visited France many times, enough times that you’ve written Erin Tridle’s Guide to Paris. It’s a good one, I like it. I like what you’ve done with it.

[00:02:59] Erin Tridle: Oh, thank you.

[00:03:00] Annie Sargent: And so we are going to go through that. And this is something, you are just telling me that you do videos on TikTok as well?

Secret entrance of the Louvre

[00:03:07] Erin Tridle: Yes, I do. I make a lot of videos on TikTok that are just about Paris, places you can go, things you can see. I also talk a little bit about my long distance relationship on there. For example, one of the ones that’s done well was a guide to ‘The secret’ entrance of the Louvre.

[00:03:25] Annie Sargent: Oh, the obvious. You mean the one with signs pointing you to it.

[00:03:31] Erin Tridle: Yeah the one with signs that no tourists know to go to, because they’re all like, oh, I need to line up at the pyramid. And then they wait in line for a half hour, 45 minutes when they could have gotten in five minutes, you know?

[00:03:43] Annie Sargent: I’ve pointed it out on the podcast, I’ve pointed it out on Facebook in the group, I talk about it to every person I do an itinerary with. This is not a secret. It’s something that people just need to stop lining up as soon as they see a line, you know. There are other entrances.

[00:03:59] Erin Tridle: There are other entrances and people just don’t realize it. So I put it out there with the term ‘secret’ because I knew secret would draw people in.

[00:04:07] Annie Sargent: You’re right, you’re right.

[00:04:08] Erin Tridle: But, yeah, it ended up, a lot of people did not know about it and then a few people were like, you need to be quiet about this. Leave this for French people.

[00:04:18] Annie Sargent: Yes. That sounds like a, well, even if all the French, I mean even if some Americans join it, it’s going to be fine, because it’s seriously so much faster.

[00:04:27] Erin Tridle: It is so much faster. I think I got through in five minutes last time.

[00:04:31] Annie Sargent:

Erin Trindel on TikTok

[00:04:31] Annie Sargent: I know nothing about TikTok. How do people find you on TikTok?

[00:04:33] Erin Tridle: So it’s through my name, so Erin Trindel @ErinTrindel. So yeah, you just look up my handle, and you can find me there. I’ve got tons of videos on all kinds of things you can do and see and it kind of covers a lot of different subjects. I have one that I did recently that was about the Secret Mosaic Artist, the anonymous mosaic artist, I should say in France MMM.

[00:04:56] Erin Tridle: They have a few pieces in Paris, but they’re based out of Lyon. So you can kind of see their work throughout France.

Making your life easier in Paris

[00:05:02] Annie Sargent: Very good. So, let’s talk about your list of things to make your life easier if you are visiting Paris, I mean, you’ve had how many trips to Paris by now, or France in general?

[00:05:15] Erin Tridle: Oh gosh, more than I can count on one hand. Because my partner is French, he lives in Paris, so I go to visit him regularly about two months in the winter, and two and a half months in the summer. So I do a number of visits, usually two full visits each year. And then I leave a little time on the end for that, you know, 90 days and 180 day rule, just in case I need to go to Paris for an emergency.

Watch where you walk

[00:05:40] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes. Okay. Alright. So the first one you list is Watch where you walk.

[00:05:46] Erin Tridle: Yes. This is literally the first thing I noticed about Paris when I started going regularly, which is that, so in the United States, people tend to stick to the right side of the sidewalk. It’s pretty uniform, you know, you don’t really have to zing and zag around people. In Paris, you just need to get out of the way. You need to zig and zag and there’s kind of a hierarchy of who you need to zig and zag around. I would say that like, specifically the disabled and elderly as well as families with children, it’s important that you go around them if you’re a person by yourself or a couple.

[00:06:21] Erin Tridle: And then also, don’t be the person who forces a couple to break their hands apart to get around you. That’s kind of a faux pas. I had someone did that to my partner and I once and afterwards he was like Mais no! I can’t believe I did that. Sorry. He felt terrible, so it’s just, people don’t stick to the right side of the sidewalk. They kind of go everywhere.

[00:06:42] Erin Tridle: And then also, I hate to say that it’s true, but it’s true, there is a decent amount of poop on Parisian sidewalks. So you got to kind of, you know, watch where you’re going until you get what I refer to as the poop radar, which I swear to God is a real thing. You just start to sense it over time.

[00:07:01] Annie Sargent: Well, also dogs tend to go in the same place. So if you walk around the same area, usually they will.

[00:07:09] Erin Tridle: Yeah, usually you just know the spots.

[00:07:10] Annie Sargent: You do. You do. They develop a habit around that. Yes. that’s very true. And I would I add one more walk, watch where you walk, because there are a lot of bicycles in Paris, you can’t hear them.

[00:07:24] Annie Sargent: And there are also more and more electric cars in Paris and they make a noise, but if you’re not careful, you might not notice it. So watch before you step out of the curb, because people get hit by either a bicycle or a scooter, or heaven forbid, a car.

[00:07:43] Erin Tridle: Yeah, absolutely. Especially scooters. Because people are starting to take them on sidewalks rather than in the street where they’re supposed to be. So definitely be careful with scooters as well.

[00:07:51] Annie Sargent: Yeah, they’re voting in Paris about possibly outlawing the rental of scooters.

[00:07:56] Erin Tridle: Oh yeah, I heard about that.

[00:07:58] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I think it might be later this month. we’re recording this in March and it’s not going to be released for a long time, but by the time you hear this, it might have passed. It won’t outlaw personal scooters, obviously, but it will make it illegal to rent scooters to the general public.

[00:08:14] Erin Tridle: Which is going to make a lot of people sad.

[00:08:16] Annie Sargent: It will, it will make a lot of people happy as well.

[00:08:19] Erin Tridle: Yes that is true, there is that other side.

[00:08:22] Annie Sargent: Yes, there’s that other side.

Taking up a table in a restaurant

[00:08:24] Annie Sargent: Alright, so your number two is taking up a table. Okay, tell us about that.

[00:08:29] Erin Tridle: So, I kind of have a general rule. If you’re walking up to a table at a cafe or bistro and there’s, like a fork and knife and, you know, like silverware settings on that table, that means they’re ready for someone to eat there. If there is no silverware setting on the table, usually it’s okay to take that table as long as you’re not at like a super fancy, nice restaurant.

[00:08:50] Erin Tridle: You’re not at a Michelin star. It’s okay to take up that table for just a Coca-Cola or an Espresso and just have it be that and be on your merry way. In the United States that is, because people live off of their tips and their tips are based on the totality of the meal in terms of price, people would be a little maybe upset or frustrated that you chose to take up a table for only, you know, a $6 tab. Whereas it’s very normal in, in Paris and France to do that. I’ve done it several times. It’s just about making sure that you don’t sit somewhere that is already set up for dining.

[00:09:28] Annie Sargent: Right. On the other hand, on Sunday, I was at the Limoux, a small town for the Carnaval. It was an event day, there were, there was a band playing in the distance and what have you. And some people wanted to just sit for a drink and they got told no. Because

[00:09:43] Annie Sargent: it was just before 12, and she just says no, we’re full, go away.

[00:09:48] Erin Tridle: Oh yeah, absolutely. If there’s a special event happening, expect to be ordering more. You know, if you’re sitting on the Pride Parade route, in the middle of the Pride Parade, they might not want you to sit there if you’re just grabbing a Coca-Cola, they’ll probably want you to put in a little bit more than that.

[00:10:04] Annie Sargent: Yes. And another question people ask is, how do I know if I can sit or not? Well, it’s very, very simple. So simple that probably people don’t think about it. But what you do is you walk towards the entrance and you catch the eye of one of the waiters and you just, you know, do a hand sign or something.

[00:10:23] Annie Sargent: You point to the table you want to sit, and if they nod yes, go ahead.

[00:10:27] Erin Tridle: Exactly. It’s all eye contact nods and hand signals. Absolutely.

[00:10:33] Annie Sargent: Yes. You don’t need to go talk to them. You don’t need to be looking for, where’s the line to get a table here? I mean, most places there is no such thing.

[00:10:41] Annie Sargent: It’s just read the room. If other people are standing, waiting to talk to somebody who’s going to find them a table, then do the same. Otherwise just sit.

No hand signals, just eye contact

[00:10:50] Erin Tridle: Yeah. And I will say to add on to that, when you’re at your table, using hand signals to get a server’s attention is maybe not the way to go. That is considered a little aggressive. And I would suggest instead just making eye contact with your server and they will know to come to you, that is the way to do it.

[00:11:09] Erin Tridle: You just have to wait for their eyes to cross yours. Please do not wave for your server, you know, all frenzy, like with your hands in the air. That’s really not the appropriate way to go.

[00:11:19] Erin Tridle: And do not call them ‘Garçon’.

[00:11:21] Erin Tridle: Oh my God, no! Garçon means boy in French, it’s very offensive to call someone ‘garçon’. It’s very condescending.

[00:11:28] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and I mean, they did it in American movies of the fifties and sixties, but people still think that that’s what you do. No, you don’t do that. Do not do that ever.

[00:11:37] Erin Tridle: Well also I think in the 50s and 60s, you know, a lot more was considered okay or appropriate than realistically ever should have been.

[00:11:46] Annie Sargent: That as well, yes.

[00:11:48] Erin Tridle: So if you’re taking your cues from the 50s and 60s, maybe move up into the future a little bit.

[00:11:53] Annie Sargent: Yes. Move up a lot. Okay.

La Bise

[00:11:56] Annie Sargent: La Bise, we want to talk about La Bise

[00:11:59] Erin Tridle: Uh, La Bise. I love La Bise. It’s honestly like every time I see a friend of mine who’s French, it’s like, oh, I get to do La Bise again. I know that’s the lamest thing I’ve ever said out loud. But, no, honestly, I just find it so charming. I think Americans think it’s actually kissing on the cheek when really it’s more like you’re touching your cheek to their cheek.

[00:12:18] Erin Tridle: So, you know, if you meet a French person, you give them a slobbery kiss on their face, they’re going to be like, what’s going on?

[00:12:24] Annie Sargent: Yes!

[00:12:24] Erin Tridle: So, that’s important not to do that.

[00:12:27] Annie Sargent: Do not plant a kiss on somebody’s cheek, yeah.

[00:12:30] Erin Tridle: Yeah, don’t do it. Avoid that at all costs. But the other thing to know is that most of the time-ish, it’s going to be one on one cheek and one on the other cheek.

[00:12:42] Erin Tridle: But it depends on where people come from, and you know, there are still people who are pretty Covid conscious, so some people might not do La Bise with you, especially right away upon meeting you because maybe they’re just, you know, sticking to more or less germ friendly ways of communication.

[00:13:01] Erin Tridle: Because La Bise went away for a while in Covid and people weren’t doing it anymore, but it has since rebounded and come back, and now it’s again, the norm. But for a while there it was drifting away.

[00:13:12] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s completely back, as in it’s the norm. I see a lot of people where, you know, people just nod hellos, wave hello, but don’t kiss, where I would’ve expected them before. So it’s not completely back since after Covid because yeah, health things, passing germs, whatever. We’re more conscious of that. And the other thing that goes with it is that people tend to stand apart further away from each other. Like when standing in line at the grocery store or any line, it used to be like people, if you left any room between you and the person in front of you’d be, somebody would jump in. Not anymore, that’s gone.

[00:13:54] Annie Sargent: So, you know, and Bise, yeah, follow what other people are doing. If they’re kissing on the cheek, do it. Otherwise, you know, just say hello, Bonjour, just Bonjour!

[00:14:08] Annie Sargent: Yeah, exactly. I will say that like handshakes aren’t really a thing. I feel like they’re very much a thing in the US. For me, handshakes are not really something that I’ve experienced. In France, I’ve mostly experienced la Bise or maybe like an elbow touch in Covid times, but handshakes which are definitely the norm in the US just really aren’t as much of a thing I think, unless you’re doing some form of business.

[00:14:32] Annie Sargent: Yes, exactly. So if you walk into your insurance broker’s office, probably that person will shake your hand. But if you are just, I don’t know, meeting somebody, probably not a handshake.

Do you need to tip or not?

[00:14:45] Annie Sargent: Alright, here’s the other one. That’s a biggie. Do you need to tip or not?

[00:14:50] Erin Tridle: Okay, well, so by societal standards in France, from what I understand, you technically don’t need to tip. However, me personally, I think you should always tip, but I’m also coming from an American perspective, and I’m considering, the reason, I also think it’s important to tip, especially if you’re in Paris, is that Paris is a very expensive city to live in for everyone you see living there, including the server who’s maybe making minimum wage.

[00:15:16] Erin Tridle: You’re there, you’re getting to enjoy France and Paris and be a part of this culture and take up space and enjoy the sites and everything. And so, you know, just because you don’t have to technically tip by societal standards doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, because you are getting to take up a space in someone else’s country, and that economy helps depend on you and other tourists, and tourism in general.

[00:15:42] Erin Tridle: So bringing in that little extra bit of tips, can be really important for servers, especially servers who work in a touristy area. The one thing I’ll say is if you are tipping in France, you know, if you do want to tip, you don’t have to tip 20%. That is considered very generous to the point where when I tip 20% before someone actually asked me, are you sure?

[00:16:04] Erin Tridle: So it’s more common to tip a few Euros, if you get a five Euro bill back at the end of your meal, leave the five Euro bill for your server, kind of a thing.

[00:16:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I mean I’m French born and raised, but I lived in America for a long time and so I got used to tipping. I don’t tip as much, obviously, but I do tip a little bit most of the time. There’s this place where we go every week with my husband and we tend to leave just a little bit of tip every time.

[00:16:35] Annie Sargent: So like we round it up is the kind of thing we do. And you can do that on a credit card. If you tell the person, I would like, you know, like for the two of us, it’s very often 42 euros or something and we can just say, well round it up to 45.

[00:16:50] Erin Tridle: Yeah. I’ll always just say, um, ajoutez quatre Euro, kind of a thing, you know, which just means add four Euros sort of a thing.

[00:16:58] Annie Sargent: Exactly. And then what we do is at Christmas time they do a special Christmas meal, and so that day we will give 50 or something. An extra 50 because it’s Christmas and every time she’s blushing, she’s, oh, you don’t need to, you don’t need, I’m like, it’s fine. It’s Christmas, Merry Christmas. They work hard, they give us really good service and we go at least once a week.

[00:17:17] Annie Sargent: So, you know, these are people we appreciate. And so it just depends. But if you want to, if you plan on going back to a cafe or something several times, just leave them a little bit of a tip and you’ll see they’ll serve you better. They will.

[00:17:31] Erin Tridle: Yeah, money helps.

[00:17:33] Annie Sargent: Yes. Money helps. Yes. Yes. Money helps. Yes.

[00:17:36] Erin Tridle: Taxi drivers, I never tip, I don’t know why. Taxi is kind of up to each person sort of a thing. They don’t mind if you don’t tip, it’s not a big deal.

[00:17:45] Annie Sargent: If I have heavy suitcase or something, then I will leave it and they help me with it, I will tip. I give a little tip to Uber drivers, but you do that on the app with Uber, so it’s a lot, you know, like it’s hands off. You just decide if you had a good experience or not. But yeah, Americans who think they should not tip in France because it’s offensive somehow to tip, that’s wrong.

[00:18:08] Annie Sargent: It is not offensive to tip. That is just BS from the crowd of people who don’t want to pay, they don’t want to tip.

[00:18:15] Annie Sargent: And they probably don’t tip in the US either.

[00:18:17] Erin Tridle: Well, and there, there are other cultures where it is considered offensive to tip. So I understand how maybe that misunderstanding has creeped over to the idea about French culture, but it’s absolutely not true. Your server will definitely appreciate it if you tip.


[00:18:32] Annie Sargent: Okay. Let’s talk about beggars. This is a good one, because this is not something I don’t think we’ve talked about very much on the show. So, tell us what you think.

[00:18:40] Erin Tridle: Well, so obviously, my first thing is to whomever is asking you for money, just be kind, that person’s going through a harder time than you are. But you also have to be on alert, especially if someone is coming up to your table while you’re eating and they’re asking for money, which can happen a lot, especially in Paris.

[00:18:59] Erin Tridle: So essentially what I would say is, if the person is coming up to your table, I would not suggest giving out money in that approach, simply because it actually allows for an easy getaway to take something from you. So if your phone is on the table and they ask you for money, you then look into your purse for your wallet and they take the phone and run away.

[00:19:20] Erin Tridle: Or if you’re taking out your wallet, they may just snatch the wallet out of your hands and run. So you know, 90% of people do not mean you harm and they just need money. But in this particular approach, I do think it’s smart not to get out your money. And what you can say is ‘J’ai rien’, which means I have nothing.

[00:19:38] Erin Tridle: And it’s an easy phrase to remember. It’s easy to pronounce, and they’ll understand that you don’t have any money on you.

[00:19:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. And this happens to me. I mean, honestly, most of the time I don’t have any coins with me, but when I go to Paris, I purposefully have coins in my pocket because there are some people who just make me sad and I want to give them a Euro or two. And I also like to give, especially to the people who play in the metro when I think they’re good, I mean, I’ll actually stop and listen to them for a bit and then give them some money.

[00:20:11] Annie Sargent: But I’m prepared for it. I have a pocket where I put some coins so I don’t have to open my purse, get stuff out, whatever.

[00:20:19] Erin Tridle: Yeah, that’s a super smart tip. Absolutely, having like a little pouch or something for your coin specifically, so you’re not taking out your whole wallet.

The smokers around you

[00:20:27] Annie Sargent: Exactly. Exactly. Very good. All right. The smokers around you, let’s talk about that.

[00:20:35] Erin Tridle: Yes. Okay. So people, specifically I’m talking about Americans, Americans will come to Paris and then they’ll come home and they’ll be like, everyone was smoking. I smelled smoke the whole time I was eating, you know, they really complain about it. And it’s like, well, you know, as of Covid times 25% of the country approximately smoked cigarettes to some degree, whether that’s regularly or occasionally. I’m quoting from I think, a New York Times article that I read during the pandemic. So that 25% might not be accurate anymore, but so a decent amount of the country smokes and a lot of people in Paris smoke, both regularly and occasionally.

[00:21:14] Erin Tridle: So outdoor seating is going to have smoking in it nearby. That’s just something you’re going to encounter. So if smoke is something that really bothers you, don’t eat outside. And I’m sorry, I know that that’s annoying, but honestly, it’s part of how things are. And when you go to another country, you need to accept how things are rather than be like, they’re not the way things are in my country.

[00:21:36] Erin Tridle: You know what I mean? It’s just, accept it is what it is and don’t let that overshadow what should be an incredible trip to a historical place that most people on the planet want to go to.

[00:21:48] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I have a sister who does not smoke most of the time, but if she’s at a cafe, she’ll probably, if somebody offers her a cigarette, she’ll smoke it. So it’s just also, you know, like a time and place. She doesn’t carry cigarettes. She doesn’t buy cigarettes, but if she’s in a social setting and somebody offers her a cigarette, she takes it.

[00:22:10] Annie Sargent: So, there’s some of that going on as well in France, it’s still seen as you share a cigarette with someone, it’s weird, I’ve never smoked in my life, I don’t understand it, but this is what people do, so there you go.

[00:22:23] Erin Tridle: Yeah. it’s just part of the way things are.

Credit Cards

[00:22:24] Annie Sargent: Exactly, exactly. Let’s talk about credit cards.

[00:22:28] Annie Sargent: This one is interesting.

[00:22:29] Erin Tridle: Yes. So I suggest getting a contactless credit card, which I think most credit cards these days are contactless, and one with zero international fees. So, for example, I have a United Airlines card through Chase. Chase Bank, and I know Capital One also has a credit card that has zero international fees.

[00:22:49] Erin Tridle: But first off, it’s really important to have a contact list because it is the standard in Europe and it is the easiest way to pay. When you have to put your card into the tip, I think it’s called, the little machine that reads your card and charges you money. when you have to put your card in there, it takes a little bit longer, for whatever reason, than just tapping it.

[00:23:10] Erin Tridle: And so it just makes things a lot easier and you can use your phone if your card is on your phone as well, so that way you don’t have to take out your wallet every time. But, so it just makes things a lot faster and a lot easier. And then also, if you’re putting your card in, at least know this to be true for American credit cards, you then sometimes have to provide a signature if it’s over a certain amount of money.

[00:23:31] Erin Tridle: And that sometimes I have noticed, will maybe annoy your server because then they have to go find a pen, because they don’t carry pens on them because no one has to sign for credit card in France.

[00:23:44] Annie Sargent: Americans are the odd ducks.

[00:23:45] Erin Tridle: Yeah, and then the zero international fees is just kind of an obvious one, which is just that, if you’re going to be using your credit card throughout the trip, those international fees on certain credit cards will build up quickly.

[00:23:57] Erin Tridle: That’s one way to save a lot of money is by having a card that specifically markets to the fact that it has no international fees.

[00:24:04] Annie Sargent: Yep, definitely. And just check with your credit card provider. I don’t ever pull out my wallet from my purse. I have it in my purse, but I don’t pull it out because I pay with my Apple Watch.

[00:24:16] Erin Tridle: Yeah, exactly. I have a friend who loves to pay with her Apple Watch.

[00:24:19] Annie Sargent: You know, and occasionally somebody is very kind to me and remarks how young people normally pay with Apple Watches.

[00:24:28] Annie Sargent: And I’m like, I’m going to slap you. Because you know, I mean, I know you mean it as a compliment, but I’m not that old, okay? Anyway. If you are worried about theft, well keep your wallet in your in zipped pockets in your purse. You don’t have to pull it out. You just have your Apple Watch and you can do everything with that.

[00:24:49] Erin Tridle: Exactly.

Putting your phone on the table when you’re having dinner

[00:24:50] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about putting your phone on the table when you’re having dinner.

[00:24:54] Erin Tridle: Absolutely. So this is a big no-no.

[00:24:57] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm.

[00:24:58] Erin Tridle: So, basically, what I like to say is, it’s whispering a pickpockets name, if you are putting it on the table. It is calling someone over to you to take your phone. It’s very easy for someone to come by and just quietly grab your phone while you’re in the midst of a conversation.

[00:25:16] Erin Tridle: There’s another trick that some people do. It’s they use a clipboard with a fake petition on it, and they’ll put the clipboard on top of your phone. They’ll come over to your table, put the clipboard on top of your phone, say, Hey, will you sign my petition? You’ll probably say no, because what are you doing signing a petition in a foreign country? And so then they’ll say, okay, no problem. And they’ll walk away, but they’ll scoop up your phone underneath the clipboard and walk away with your phone and you won’t notice it for a few minutes. And by that time, that phone is long gone. It’s just really important, you know, don’t hang your purse on your seat and don’t put your phone on the table.

[00:25:52] Annie Sargent: Yep. If you need to put your purse down somewhere, put your foot through the handle. Okay? So that if somebody tries to take it, you’ll feel it, you know, they won’t be able to. But

[00:26:03] Annie Sargent: it’s best to keep it on your lap. A few restaurants will give you a special thing where you can hang your purse, but those are usually the nicer restaurants where they are careful not to let anybody through there who might be a thief.

19th and 20th arrondissement

[00:26:16] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about the 19th et 20th.

[00:26:22] Erin Tridle: Yes. The 19th and the 20th. So some people might disagree with me on this, but this is coming from personal experience. It’s also a little bit of the 10th, although I find the 10th charming. And I love the canal there, but I have had some difficult experiences in the 10th, 19th, and 20th, but especially the 19th and 20th.

[00:26:42] Erin Tridle: And it’s just been concerning that they seem to be concentrated in those areas. So I can go into specifics if you’d like, but essentially I’ve just experienced some negative experiences that made me feel unsafe in those areas. And also once you’re in the 19th and 20th, you’re getting to an area where there’s a lot less tourists there, so there’s less people who are interested in speaking English with you.

[00:27:07] Erin Tridle: So it’s just kind of a combination of things where I suggest if you’re newer to Paris and you can’t speak French very well or at all maybe, the 19th and 20th isn’t really necessarily a place you have to go.

[00:27:19] Erin Tridle: There is Père Lachaise there, which I understand if you want to go to, it’s beautiful and touching to see the tributes to people there, especially for me, Oscar Wilde’s grave is absolutely incredible. It’s a sculpture. So I understand if you want to go into the 20th, so you can go to Père Lachaise, but just in general, unless you have something to see there, I wouldn’t suggest staying in that area and I wouldn’t necessarily suggest wandering around that area.

[00:27:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so occasionally somebody takes me to task on this, like, well, I’ve been there and it was fine. I’m like, okay, good for you. But I know from reading news that these are areas where there are crack addicts, and guess how much a hit of crack costs in Paris?

[00:28:05] Erin Tridle: I am guessing not that much.

[00:28:06] Annie Sargent: It’s five bucks, five euros.

[00:28:08] Annie Sargent: So anybody who looks like they might have five euros to a crack addict looks like a good target. Anybody. These people are out of their minds, okay? So… just don’t, don’t go there if you don’t have to go there. I mean, going to Père Lachaise is completely different because I recommend people go either on the metro or on the bus.

[00:28:30] Annie Sargent: They get off at Gambetta. and then you walk down the hill through the Père Lachaise, and then you get on the metro on the other side. That’s really not, you know, that’s not a problem. But, there’s a lot of things going on. The police is trying to break up the groups, but it’s a constant battle.

[00:28:50] Annie Sargent: I mean, we talked about people who ask you for money earlier, and it’s very sad, but the problem with crack addicts is that they are not behaving like normal people. So,…

[00:29:00] Erin Tridle: Yeah, no, it’s concerning. The least worst thing that has happened to me in that area was I got surrounded by two men who were very clearly addicted to drugs. I can’t say which one necessarily, but were probably a part of that camp. And they surrounded me and started screaming at me for money. I just started running.

[00:29:21] Erin Tridle: But I’ve had a number of things happen in that area, which just get worse as I tell them. So it’s just not an area I suggest.

[00:29:30] Annie Sargent: Yeah, you don’t need to go there. Don’t. Just don’t. There you go. And even if you find a cheap Airbnb, don’t, because you’ll feel unsafe. You’ll come back at night one night and something untoward will happen, even if it’s not dramatic, and then the next day you’re like, oh my God, I don’t even want to go out.

[00:29:47] Annie Sargent: If you’re with your spouse or your boyfriend, and okay, that’s different. But if you’re by yourself, definitely don’t.

[00:29:54] Erin Tridle: Yeah, I’m always suggesting, in arrondissement 1-8 somewhere, I think those tend to be the most central, most enjoyable, and you feel pretty safe in those areas.

[00:30:05] Erin Tridle: That’s my easy go to.

[00:30:06] Annie Sargent: Yeah, the 15th is also good. There’s a bunch of them that are fine. Just avoid 10, 19, 20. It’s easy.

Walking on the grass

[00:30:13] Annie Sargent: Alright. let’s see. Oh, walking on the grass. Yes. It’s not allowed everywhere, is it?

[00:30:20] Erin Tridle: It is not, be careful because someone will yell at you if you are walking on grass, you’re not supposed to. A lot of people are like, oh, I want to go have a picnic in Paris. And they think they can do that at any park, and that’s just not the case. You try that Luxembourg or the Tuileries, you will get yelled at.

[00:30:35] Annie Sargent: True. Yep. In those parts you should find a chair, which there are a lot of free chairs, or a bench. And then you’re fine.

[00:30:42] Erin Tridle: Yeah, exactly. It’s just, you know, also don’t be that American who’s like, well, I’m just going to ignore the fact that I’m not supposed to be on the grass so I can take this great Instagram photo. Don’t do that. Don’t be that person. It’s rude and it makes us look rude as tourists.

[00:30:58] Annie Sargent: It’s best to follow the rules wherever you go. Not that French people always follow the rules, but we should do that also.

[00:31:05] Erin Tridle: Yeah, if you’re looking for a picnic area, the Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower is kind of the classic one. It’s really easy to do, just to note that during the winter the grass is blocked off to let it recover. But during the summer, and spring it’s a very accessible area that’s perfect for a picnic. And if that’s something you’re looking to do, that’s a great way to spend an afternoon in Paris.

[00:31:28] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yes. And also after a heavy rain, they often close off the lawn areas because when you walk on you just rip the grass right off, so…

[00:31:37] Erin Tridle: Exactly.

Price gauging

[00:31:38] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Very good. Ah, you have a spidey sense about things that are overpriced. Do tell.

[00:31:46] Erin Tridle: So I have kind of a price gauge that I go by, for some key items on French menus. So for example, six escargot should cost no less than 7 Euros and no more than 13 Euros. Unless they are what are called like XXL escargot, in which case they’ll be a little more expensive because they’re very, very large.

[00:32:08] Erin Tridle: But in general, a normal size escargot should be between 7-13. Anything below 7 is really low quality, and anything above 13, is that person just getting more money from you?

[00:32:20] Erin Tridle: And then a glass bottle of Coke should be between 3.50 Euros, which would actually be really cheap for a Coke in Paris.

[00:32:26] Erin Tridle: And at maximum 6.50 Euros. Because 5 Euros is about the average. But anything above 6.50, you’re at a tourist trap or hotel bar, period.

[00:32:35] Erin Tridle: That’s what’s going on there.

[00:32:37] Annie Sargent: Yeah, St Germain I was shocked once. My husband and I, we were waiting for my sister. My sister was, and her boyfriend were with us and they wanted to go antiquing. So we’re on Rue du Bac and there’re stopping at all the stores and I, there are few things in life I could care more or less about than old antique stuff.

[00:32:58] Annie Sargent: I just don’t know anything about them. I don’t care. And I was tired, so we kept going to different bars or cafes, you know. And my husband and I would sit and have a drink or Pepsi or something and she would just, and every time as we went up Rue du Bac, the price would increase. We got to the point where it was like 6.50 for a Diet Coke, and he was like: ‘This place stinks!’.

[00:33:21] Erin Tridle: Yeah, exactly. No, you have to pay attention. That’s actually, see these price gauges are something I actually use to decide on where I’m going to eat. So if I go look at a menu and I see that their escargot is 16 Euros for 6 escargot, or it’s 7 Euros for a Coke, I’m absolutely not. That’s not happening.

[00:33:41] Erin Tridle: I’m not going here. This is a ripoff, to put it bluntly. Yeah. I have like a favorite, I have a restaurant I really like that’s over by Chantilly but Chantilly restaurants can be overpriced and I just looked at their menu the other day when I was back in Paris and their Coke is now 7 Euros. And I was like, well, guess I’m not coming back here.

[00:34:02] Annie Sargent: Wow. Wow.

[00:34:04] Erin Tridle: You know, it’s just a good way to gauge where you should go. And also I would say that like a good glass of wine should be between like 5 and maybe, maybe if I’m stretching 10 or 11 Euros for a glass. And that’s a normal glass, not what’s called a “tulipe” is like a large pour.

[00:34:21] Erin Tridle: But for a normal glass, it should be between like 5-10 realistically. Because all the wine you’re drinking is typically French, so there’s no importation tax and it hasn’t had to travel very far to get to you, so it’s not very expensive, so it really should be.

[00:34:36] Erin Tridle: I’ve eaten at a Michelin star restaurant and it literally, I think my glass of wine cost me 6 Euros.

[00:34:42] Erin Tridle: So really, truly, it doesn’t need to be that high.

[00:34:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah. exactly. You said it all. It’s very good. And also prices have to be posted outside of cafes and restaurants. So if you are price sensitive, just look at the list because by law it has to be there. And I think that’s one that they get slapped on the wrist if they don’t.

[00:35:03] Annie Sargent: So it has to be very obvious how much they’re going to charge. Even the Michelin star restaurants, they post this stuff, they don’t make it obvious, but they do post it. They have to.

[00:35:15] Erin Tridle: Yeah. Exactly. There’s an easy way to gauge what you’re about to get into.

The bracelets scam

[00:35:19] Annie Sargent: So let’s talk about the man selling bracelets and Eiffel Tower key chains and stuff like that. I’ve observed a lot of them when I was writing my Eiffel Tower tour, because I kept going back several times a day to the Trocadéro, where I, that’s where my tour starts, and there’s a bunch of them right up there.

[00:35:37] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:35:37] Erin Tridle: Yes. so it’s really common to see people selling trinkets like Eiffel Tower Key Chains or Light Up Eiffel Tower, little mini statues, or sometimes it’s homemade bracelets. This is very common and the people who do this are typically from another country. Originally, they’ve immigrated to France and they’re trying to, from what I understand, from what I’ve been told by multiple people, is they’re trying to gather as much money as they can to send it back home to their families.

[00:36:07] Erin Tridle: And so, you know, in general just with human beings, I just think, you know, lead with kindness.

[00:36:12] Erin Tridle: But, you know, sometimes their salesmanship can be a little aggressive, especially with the bracelet salesman. And you’ll find those concentrated at the bottom of the steps of the Sacré-Cœur.

[00:36:24] Erin Tridle: If you want to skip them, if you’re facing the Sacré-Cœur and you’re at the very bottom and you’re looking at the famous steps, go to your left, about 150 yards, a hundred yards, there’s another staircase that goes up to the Sacré-Cœur, that no tourists go up. And there, there are no bracelet salesmen there. So if you want to avoid them and you don’t need to go up the famous steps, just go to the staircase on the left.

[00:36:46] Annie Sargent: Right. And it’s also by the téléphérique.

[00:36:50] Erin Tridle: If you do find yourself the target of their salesmanship, my best suggestion is say Non, merci, in your best French accent. I mean, really just pull out your acting abilities and pretend you are French for a moment and say ‘Non, merci!’ in your best accent and just keep saying ‘Non, merci!’ Because what they’re going to do is they’re going to start asking you questions in English.

[00:37:12] Erin Tridle: Where are you from? What are you doing here? Do you like Paris? They’re trying to get you to talk to them so they can distract you long enough to put a bracelet on your wrist and then tie it in a way that you can’t get it off. And then they’ll demand a inordinate amount of money, once it’s on your wrist and you can’t get it off.

[00:37:29] Erin Tridle: So it’s kind of a scam in a way. So, just being careful about that. And if they’re asking you questions, do not respond in English because that only, that kind of only increases the aggressiveness. So it’s just Non, merci! Non, merci! Non, merci!, and just keep walking. And if they try to grab your arm, which some of them do, I have had that happen, just rip your arm away, look them direct in the eyes and say: ‘Non, merci!’

[00:37:56] Erin Tridle: Like, get kind of aggressive about it. They will leave you alone.

[00:37:59] Annie Sargent: Yeah, you have to be a, you… there’s a point where if they are touching you, it’s okay to be unpleasant.

[00:38:05] Erin Tridle: A little rude. Yeah, yeah, exactly. I agree. You can’t be touching me or grabbing parts of me without me getting rude with you. That just how that’s going to work.

[00:38:13] Annie Sargent: Now the Eiffel Tower key chain stuff is different because they just, yeah, they’re not as aggressive. Yeah. They let you walk by, and one of them on the Trocadero, he helps tourists set up their shots. So they like, it looks like they’re pinching the Eiffel Tower. They’re picking it up from the top, you know?

[00:38:33] Annie Sargent: And so he helps them set it up. And I’ve seen several people give him a tip, you know, give him a few coins or whatever. And he’s super nice. I mean, I have observed him do this a hundred times and he’s very nice. Some people don’t give him anything and he will still, you know, so he, he’ll be like, okay, do it like this.

[00:38:51] Annie Sargent: He will model how to do it, and then he will place them so that it looks right.

[00:38:57] Erin Tridle: That’s a smart job.

[00:38:59] Annie Sargent: Come step here, stand over here. And then you over there, you stand over there and it looks perfect. So, you know, some of them are, they’re just bored. Like it’s, and like you said, they have a hard life and you don’t have to be rude to them because they are really not a problem.

[00:39:16] Annie Sargent: The ones that crowd you, and they wanted to sign a so-called petition. They really annoy me. They really annoy me.

[00:39:23] Erin Tridle: Never sign, never sign a petition in Paris. I don’t care how much you are sympathetic to that person’s plight, do not sign a petition in Paris. That is a huge scam. What you’re to do is you’re going to sign, and then they’re going to say, okay, give me the money you just signed for. And they will not take no for an answer.

[00:39:39] Erin Tridle: And they very often have a second person nearby who will come up if you refuse. So if someone asks you to sign a petition, just say absolutely not. Like, no. And just keep walking. Don’t let them pull you in by any means because, unless that person is wearing some official signage, you’ll see people who are getting petitions signed for the Red Cross.

[00:39:59] Erin Tridle: That’s a thing. You do see people out canvassing for, you know, charitable organizations, but they usually have some sort of signage on them in official uniforms. Something along those lines. The people we’re talking about are just random people who have no affiliation to anything. So they don’t have any clothing that’s affiliated to anything or any sort of signage, and they’re just looking to get money from you.

Be careful with your things on the metro.

[00:40:21] Annie Sargent: Okay. One, well, perhaps we have time for one or two more. Be careful with your things on the metro. Yes. Let’s talk about that briefly, but it bears repeating that there are pickpockets on the metro. They even have announcements in all languages telling you that they’re pickpockets on the metro.

[00:40:39] Annie Sargent: So, as a French person, if I can, I get on the metro, I go to the opposite door, I put my back against the door, and I have my purse in front of me, cross body and my hand on my purse. And they, it’s hard for them to get something out of you like that. But there are tourists who are so careless, I mean, what have you seen? Tell us what you’ve seen.

[00:41:02] Erin Tridle: Well, it’s funny, the typical pickpocket doesn’t necessarily exist. I have one kind of typical idea for what a pickpocket looks like, but it’s not always accurate. I noticed a group of girls, like probably teenagers who stole a phone from someone and they were such a large group that I did not feel comfortable confronting them or saying something, because it would not have gone well.

[00:41:24] Erin Tridle: But essentially, it can be anybody, so be on the lookout. Don’t have your phone out when the doors are about to close, that’s a classic time for someone to come and rip it out of your hands and run out right as the doors close and then that phone is gone. Have your hands on your purse.

[00:41:38] Erin Tridle: Don’t keep your phone in your back pocket for the Lord’s sake.

[00:41:43] Erin Tridle: Don’t it. It’s, it’s a terrible idea. Just don’t do it. And yeah, just make sure you’re protecting yourself and being aware, if you have your passport on you. I always suggest getting one of those backpacks that has like a secret little zipper on the back of the backpack that goes against your back, if you’re going to be traveling a lot, just because people can’t get to that zipper without being the most talented pickpocket in the world.

[00:42:09] Erin Tridle: And I will say, there are some talented people out there when it comes to this business. My mom was in Paris in the 80s, and she had a circular purse that the zipper went around in a circle and she had her hand on the purse and she was sitting on the metro and she wasn’t paying attention, but she had her hand on the purse and then she looked over.

[00:42:30] Erin Tridle: Next to her was a child and they had unzipped the purse halfway and had their hand inside the purse, and she had not felt a thing.

[00:42:40] Erin Tridle: And it was, I mean, this was at a time when it wasn’t uncommon to see a child pickpocketing. That is not really a thing anymore. But still, the safety lesson, you know, still persists.

[00:42:51] Erin Tridle: Like, just be very cautious. Be very careful, be paying attention. Don’t fall asleep on the metro because I see some people fall asleep on the metro and I’m like, how? I don’t even understand this.

[00:43:03] Annie Sargent: Also if you can find pants with zippers, it really helps, because then you can put your phone or your key or whatever your room key, whatever you need, and you can zip it up and then it’s less likely to be taken. If you are a fluffy person, large people tend to wear oversized clothing.

[00:43:25] Annie Sargent: It’s really easy to take stuff from oversized clothing. So in that case, really, really zip it up because they will get in there. If you wear tight clothing, you are more likely to feel somebody touching you and removing an item. But of course, the best thing you can do for not being robbed is don’t take so much with you.

[00:43:48] Annie Sargent: Just empty your wallet. Just take one credit card, have your Apple Pay or your Google Pay on your phone set up. You really have to watch your phone. That’s really, really important. But at least in that case, you are watching one thing, you know, just the phone.

[00:44:04] Erin Tridle: Exactly.

[00:44:05] Annie Sargent: And that’s not so hard to do.

[00:44:07] Annie Sargent: Most people go to Paris. I’ve never been pickpocketed in Paris. Someone tried. And I realized it and yelled at him. But they’ve never managed. Some of these pickpockets are really bad at it, they just try stuff, but some of them are very good. So it just depends who you’re dealing with.

[00:44:26] Annie Sargent: So I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but just be cognizant. Just because you live in the middle of a cornfield, when you get to Paris, just tell yourself, okay, I’m never in a situation like this, so I need to be alert, you know? And people who live in big cities know this. Even, you know, big cities in America, you have to be careful as well.

[00:44:48] Annie Sargent: But in Paris, it’s not the guns you have to be worried about, it’s the pickpockets, which in the grand scheme of things, it’s not so bad. I mean…

[00:44:57] Erin Tridle: It’s not so bad, yeah. Ultimately you can, you know, if you’re really worried about it most cell phone companies will offer a monthly insurance plan where if you get your phone stolen, they will fully refund you or get you a new phone without much cost. So if you’re really worried about it for your time in Europe or in Paris, you can do that.

[00:45:16] Erin Tridle: And that’s a great way to protect yourself.

[00:45:18] Annie Sargent: You should back up any data that you care about to the cloud, so that you don’t lose it. And you should set up all phones today, come with solutions like wipe my phone, you know, brick my phone, things like that. So learn how to do that before your trip and set it up.

[00:45:36] Annie Sargent: Usually, you have to do it from your computer or from another device. So you link your devices and then you say, okay, my iPhone 14 or 13 or whatever was stolen, you right-click on it and it will make it unusable.

[00:45:51] Annie Sargent: But if you don’t do it ahead of time, then too late, you know,

[00:45:55] Annie Sargent: you have to set things up like that.

[00:45:56] Erin Tridle: I know we’re about to run out of time. There’s just one little point that I wanted to point

[00:46:01] Erin Tridle: out. Do you mind if I…?

[00:46:02] Annie Sargent: No, go right ahead.

[00:46:04] Erin Tridle: So this is going to be probably my biggest tip, especially for American tourists because they do this a lot. Please do not walk into a restaurant or a bar and immediately ask if they have an English menu in English.

[00:46:17] Erin Tridle: This is a quick way to have someone dislike you. You need to say Bonjour, you need to say Bonjour or Bonsoir. You need to greet the person and acknowledge their existence. It is the polite thing to do. How would you feel if someone, if you’re working at a restaurant in the US and someone walked up to you and said, uh, uh, vous avez une carte, you know, and you would be like, what’s going on?

[00:46:41] Erin Tridle: I don’t understand why you’re not even saying hello to me. It’s just, it’s general politeness. Please do not start with: Do you have an English menu?

[00:46:48] Erin Tridle: It’s not nice and it makes us look bad.

[00:46:51] Annie Sargent: No, this is a very good point to make. And saying Bonjour, anyway, I know it’s not so natural to Americans because you don’t go around saying hello to people in America all the time, but in France you have to, you just have to, it’s just how we are. Otherwise, people are going to be like, oh my God, this person, another one like that!

[00:47:12] Erin Tridle: Yes, exactly. No, you have to start with Bonjour, Bonsoir. And that’s every interaction that you’re going to have, literally.

[00:47:19] Annie Sargent: Try whatever French you have, just try it on them. Now, don’t insist. Don’t expect that the whole conversation is going to be in French just because you made an effort, because they are in a hurry, they won’t have time to put up with your slow French, but try.

[00:47:35] Erin Tridle: Oh my gosh, that’s so true, and it happens with me all the time.

[00:47:38] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Just start in French and if they switch to English.

[00:47:43] Annie Sargent: Oh, well, it’s too bad. So sad. My French still needs working on, you know.

[00:47:50] Erin Tridle: Yes. I’ve had many of people switch to English for me.

[00:47:53] Annie Sargent: Well, and in Paris people do it to me, me, I’m native.

[00:47:59] Erin Tridle: Oh my gosh. Really?

[00:48:00] Annie Sargent: Well, okay, so I’m standing in line with somebody who speaks English and we’re speaking English. So they hear us speaking English, and then when they start talking to me, I speak French and I, you know, where do you want to sit? Whatever. We do that in French and then switch to English again, and I’m like.

[00:48:20] Erin Tridle: That happens to my partner and me a lot because he’ll let me speak so that I can practice my French and then they’ll switch over to English, and then they’ll ask him a question in English and he’ll respond in perfect French and they’ll be like, what?

[00:48:33] Erin Tridle: I’m confused by you two.

[00:48:35] Annie Sargent: What do I do here? Two languages. Oh no, head’s going to explode. Yeah.

[00:48:39] Erin Tridle: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:48:41] Annie Sargent: Erin, it’s been lovely talking to you. I am sure people are going to really like this episode because they need to hear this stuff. And do look for Erin Tridle’s… well, what is there a name to your TikTok, or is it just?

[00:48:57] Erin Tridle: It’s just under my name, Erin Tridle.

[00:48:59] Erin Tridle: So if you type my name into TikTok, it’ll come up right away.

[00:49:02] Annie Sargent: Excellent, do that. If I had TikTok on my phone, which I do not and will not, I would do it, but I can’t, so I can’t.

[00:49:10] Erin Tridle: No worries.

[00:49:11] Annie Sargent: Time is too precious. Merci Beaucoup, Erin.

[00:49:15] Annie Sargent: Merci Annie. Au revoir!

[00:49:17] Annie Sargent:

Thank you, patrons

[00:49:24] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for giving back and supporting this show. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing that. You can see them at

[00:49:39] Annie Sargent: Thank you all for your support. Some of you have been doing it for a long time. You’re wonderful. And a shout out this week to new patrons: Katherine Vaughn and Jeff. I don’t know Jeff’s last name. So whoever you are, Jeff, thank you!

[00:49:54] Annie Sargent: To join this wonderful community of Francophiles who support Join Us in France, please visit

[00:50:03] Annie Sargent: And to support Elyse, go to

[00:50:11] Annie Sargent: This week I published a reward for patrons. It was about line six of the Paris Metro where I help you practice how to say the proper names of all the stops on the line. These are all tricky in French. Proper names are tricky in French. So patrons who join today also have access to previously published rewards, and there are a lot of them, including line 1-6. But there’s also, you know, recipes, updates with Elyse, historical tidbits, French practice, of course.

[00:50:45] Annie Sargent: So if you love the podcast, you’ll love the Patreon rewards.

Patrons please use Patreon for messages

[00:50:49] Annie Sargent: Also patrons, if you want to tell me something, please send me a message from Patreon instead of sending me an email. I get a lot of emails and I can’t respond to all of them. Messages coming from within Patreon always get a response.

[00:51:03] Annie Sargent: And thank you also Martin Rosenberg, for your one time donation, using the green button on any page on Join us in France that says ‘Tip your guide’.

The Bonjour Service

[00:51:14] Annie Sargent: If you need some help with your itinerary, I can do that for you. I offer two levels of service now. The Bonjour service where we talk for up to a whole hour.

[00:51:23] Annie Sargent: You ask me all your questions, I give you my suggestions, and you’ll hopefully be ready to make decisions about whatever you were struggling with.

The VIP Service

[00:51:32] Annie Sargent: You can also go with the VIP service where we talk also for about an hour, but then I send you a detailed document that outlines everything we discussed, as well as a summary of the best advice shared on this podcast.

[00:51:48] Annie Sargent: To get started, purchase the service at, and you’ll get emails guiding you through the process. It’s pretty simple.

Self-guided tours available on the VoiceMap app

[00:51:57] Annie Sargent: And if you found this podcast too late to book an itinerary session with me, you can still take me along in your pocket with my GPS self-guided tours available on the VoiceMap app.

[00:52:08] Annie Sargent: You can choose from the Eiffel Tower, which is available in English or French, Ile de la Cité, Le Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain des Prés or the Latin Quarter.

[00:52:18] Annie Sargent: Just to make the example of the Latin Quarter, that one in particular is so exhaustive that you could spend a whole day letting me take you around. Not that I will talk the whole day, not by a long shot. The tour itself, if you just listen to the audio, it’s about 90 minutes. But if you go into all the wonderful places that I lead you to and tell you why you should go in, you’ll have a fantastic day in Paris.

[00:52:44] Annie Sargent: You can download the tours as soon as you buy them. You can listen at home if you would like. And then when you get to Paris at long last, open VoiceMap, go to the appointed start of the tour, and when you get there, I’ll start talking. It’s unbelievably easy. You can access my tours directly from the VoiceMap app if you are in a hurry. But if you purchase the tour codes from, you’ll receive a special listener discount.

[00:53:13] Annie Sargent: But it’s not immediate. I do sleep. So give me a few hours before you panic that you didn’t get your tour codes.

How to not get a ticket when visiting France

[00:53:20] Annie Sargent: Alright, how about not getting a ticket when visiting France? First, let me explain why I’m bringing this up again. It comes up a lot. Somebody posted this on the Join Us in France closed group on Facebook.

[00:53:33] Annie Sargent: And by the way, if you want to join that, you are welcome to, but you do have to answer questions. Because this is a group for podcast listeners, not your generic group, where we’ll answer any question that pop into your head about France. Okay?

[00:53:47] Annie Sargent: Bonjour friends. Does anyone know how to fight a speeding ticket? My husband and I are convinced that this is a scam that is pulled on rental car drivers. We got two tickets last year and one already this year. Cars blow us by. We don’t speed. If anything, we drive under the limits because we have no idea where we’re going most of the time.

[00:54:17] Annie Sargent: Ah, okay. Most people responded ‘Just pay the ticket’, but then she came back and said: I’m sure that’s what they count on. Just makes me mad when we know we weren’t speeding.

[00:54:31] Annie Sargent: Ma’am, with all due respect, you were speeding. This is a computer taking your photo speeding. The thing is, you don’t realize how low the threshold is for speeding in France. One over the speed limit, and you’re speeding. Not five, not ten, one.

[00:54:51] Annie Sargent: And if you’re not using cruise control, you go over by one without having any idea you’re doing it.

[00:54:58] Annie Sargent: Now, there is a procedure to fight a ticket. And somebody posted a link to it with good reason. There is a procedure. But you will not win, because the only people who win those are folks who can prove that they loaned their car to someone else. And even if you can’t prove it, that person says, oh, I’m sorry, I was driving that car, I’ll get the points taken off my license.

[00:55:22] Annie Sargent: It happened to my husband once. Our daughter was driving his car. He could have disputed it, but he didn’t because he has 12 points and he didn’t care if he lost one. He made her pay for the ticket, however. So, that’s the only people who ever win this. Okay?

[00:55:38] Annie Sargent: If you were in the car and they can prove it, you will pay for the ticket. Now, at one point she said, locals were blowing past us. Yes, of course. Locals know where the speed traps are, and they slow down for those. But you have no idea, even though many of them are pointed out by massive road signs. Okay?

[00:55:59] Annie Sargent: But you don’t know where they are, so, if you’re the only people on the road, you get caught, that’s how it works. And then you make up some conspiracy against car rentals. Look, a lot of people who rent cars never get a ticket.

[00:56:12] Annie Sargent: That’s because they don’t speed, not even by one. You can set a speed limiter on most modern cars, and it’ll complain at you if you go over, even by one. And you can also, of course, set the cruise control to not let you go over. So there’s things you can do. It is not a conspiracy, fighting it, it’s just a waste of time.

[00:56:36] Annie Sargent: So don’t speed. Okay? Not anywhere. Now, if you see people increasing their speed, then probably they know there’s no speed trap there. But there are speed traps in a lot of places, and French people get caught all the time, because there’s some also many movable radars, okay? They’re not always in the same spot, and the ones that are always in the same spot get pointed out by a road sign anyway, so, but there’s others as well. So just don’t go over the speed limit at any point while driving a car in France. And thank you very much.

[00:57:14] Annie Sargent: My thanks to podcast editors, Anne and Christian Cotovan, who do a wonderful job with the transcripts and producing the audio file.

[00:57:22] Annie Sargent: You should search the website for show notes about specific parts of France that you want to go to, it’s an excellent resource.

Next week on the podcast

[00:57:30] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode about Jewish heritage in France. This is a topic I have wanted to tackle with Elyse for a long time, and here we are. It’s going to be out next week, and I’ll be very happy to hear what you think about that topic.

[00:57:48] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.

[00:57:55] Annie Sargent: Au revoir!


[00:57:57] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.

Subscribe to the Podcast
Apple Google Spotify RSS
Support the Show
Tip Your Guides Extras Patreon Audio Tours
Read more about this transcript
Episode Page Guest Notes 

Category: First Time in Paris