Transcript for Episode 482: 5 Days Solo in Paris

Categories: Paris, Solo in France

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 482, quatre cent quatre vingt deux.

[00:00:22] Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we take a conversational journey through the beauty, culture, and flavors of France.

Today on the podcast

[00:00:31] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a trip report with Mike Katz about his first time in Paris.

[00:00:38] Now, Mike is someone who really planned it out, and he packed it all in, which I think a lot of first time visitors to Paris do. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be back to Paris and he wanted to see a lot of stuff.

[00:00:51] And you know what? It makes sense for people who have the stamina to do this kind of trip.

Podcast supporters

[00:00:58] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service, my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app, or take a day trip with me around the Southwest in my electric car.

[00:01:14] You can browse all of that at my boutique

The Magazine segment

[00:01:20] Annie Sargent: The magazine part of the podcast after the interview today is going to be short because I am one tired lady and it’s late, and tomorrow I’ll have to drive all day because I am finally driving home to France. So I hope you’ll forgive me but I will update you on my adventures in renovating my kitchen.​

[00:01:51] Bonjour, Mike Katz, and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:01:55] Mike Katz: Bonjour, Annie.

[00:01:56] Annie Sargent: Wonderful to talk to you today about the trip you took to France. It was your first time in Paris, and it was pretty recent, wasn’t it?

[00:02:05] Tell me when and all of that.

Five Days in Paris, solo trip

[00:02:07] Mike Katz: Yeah, I went this past November for almost five full days, and yeah, it was my first trip. It was very rainy, but it was great, great trip.

[00:02:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So November 2023, five days, which is really short, that’s really the minimum. I assume you have a busy work schedule, that’s why you couldn’t get away longer.

[00:02:28] Mike Katz: Yes, but being solo, I probably did, what, what an average person would do in 10 days. So, I really did quite a lot.

[00:02:37] Annie Sargent: Yes. So right off the bat, let’s talk about your favorite things that you did in Paris. We’re not going to do this day by day, but I want to know, what are the things that really, that made the trip special for you?

[00:02:50] Mike Katz: I think it was certain sites that I really enjoyed. Obviously, I went to the Eiffel Tower, I went to the Louvre, but I also did a few things that I wasn’t really planning on doing much with, like the Arc de Triomphe.

[00:03:02] I’m trying to remember what else was on my list, oh, the Saint Chapelle, I thought was really wonderful. And just some other things like the Les Invalides, things like Napoleon’s Tomb, things like the Pantheon with a lot of the famous people who are entombed there.

[00:03:18] I really got a big kick out of those kinds of things.

[00:03:21] Annie Sargent: That’s great. So, in general, are you a history buff?

[00:03:24] Mike Katz: In certain respects, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert per se on certain things, particularly not things with French culture. Yeah, I suppose I’m kind of an amateur history enthusiast in certain ways.

Preparing for the trip

[00:03:36] Annie Sargent: So, how did you prepare for this trip? What did you do to get ready for your trip?

[00:03:40] Mike Katz: I listen to a lot of your podcasts, actually. No, that’s the truth. I literally, I started listening to some of them years ago knowing that I was going to go to Paris eventually. And when I was really, when I knew I was actually going to be able to make the trip, I listened to quite a few of them again. That was the main thing and it also just gave me a lot of good jumping off points that I would just research things on the web, and just read articles, you know, people would write how to spend three days in Paris and things like that.

[00:04:09] So that’s basically how I prepared.

Annie’s Walking Tours

[00:04:11] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. And it looks like you took all of my walking tours as well. So, did you have a favorite and did they help? Did they make the trip better for you?

[00:04:20] Mike Katz: No, and I’m not saying this just because we’re on the call. I think they helped tremendously. I remember getting off the Metro in Montmartre and thinking, I have no idea what I should be doing right now. But having the walking tours it helped tremendously. And I think my favorite one was probably the one with the, my favorite thing on the tour was the Jardin des Plantes. I think that was the Latin Quarter.

[00:04:44] It is the Latin Quarter tour, yes.

[00:04:45] That was probably my favorite because I really enjoyed just seeing all the things there. But I enjoyed, I enjoyed them all, really. I mean some more than others, definitely, you know, I liked the Marais one.

[00:04:58] It just helped a lot, because if you have a short amount of time, if you don’t know where you’re supposed to go, you end up just wasting a lot of time trying to figure it out.

[00:05:07] Annie Sargent: Yeah, just orientation is difficult in a new city. And it’s true that the VoiceMap tours really make it simple because I tell you, you know, how to orient yourself using things surrounding you, so I tell you face this, whatever it is, and then go ahead. But you also have a map that you can look at, and I’ll make sure to take you to all the big hits of these neighborhoods, so you don’t have to think about, oh, where was this?

[00:05:35] Because I think that happens to a lot of people, they just get, I remember we also did an itinerary consult, and your plan was a little bit all over the place, so you had, you grouped things that didn’t make sense together.

[00:05:49] Mike Katz: Right.

[00:05:50] Annie Sargent: Just because you didn’t know, you don’t know that you might as well, while you’re in this spot, you might as well visit other things.

[00:05:58] Well, the VoiceMap tours avoid that as well, because, you know, I’m going to show you the best of the neighborhood and that’s it.

[00:06:03] Mike Katz: And one of the things also is you’ll end up walking by things and you won’t even realize you’re walking by something worth seeing.

[00:06:11] There’s one moment, I think it was the Marais tour, but there was one moment where you saw like an actual artillery shell of some kind, like a little cannonball in the building.

[00:06:21] And I remember thinking, I would never have seen that, if you don’t point it out. So there’s lots of things like that, which are really, really, really great.

[00:06:29] Annie Sargent: Right, that’s on the Hôtel de Sens, it’s right there, but if you don’t know to look for it, you miss it.

[00:06:36] Mike Katz: Exactly.

Vedette du Pont Neuf Boat tour

[00:06:36] Annie Sargent: All right, so in your list, you mentioned that you took the boat tour, the Vedette du Pont Neuf boat tour, why was that pleasant for you?

[00:06:46] Mike Katz: It was wonderful for a few reasons. One, is you get a really close up look on the Eiffel Tower. And if you go late at night, which I did, you can see it sparkling. They make sure you see it sparkling, right? They’ll literally just stop the boat and wait for the Eiffel Tower to sparkle. But also, I mean, you get to see everything lit up, right?

[00:07:06] City of Lights, you get to see all, you know, you go by the Louvre, you go by the Orsay, you go by everything and it’s all lit up and beautiful. It was just a great way to just see a lot of things.

[00:07:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah. In Paris, a lot of the beautiful things are along the river, so perfect. You know, it’s a perfect way to get acquainted also with the geography of the, you know, the lay of the land and where things are more or less. So yeah, it’s a very fun thing to do.

Arc de Triomphe

[00:07:31] Annie Sargent: Okay, I’m surprised that you mentioned Arc de Triomphe in the second position, because that’s not one that comes up that much, so tell me why you liked it so much.

[00:07:40] Mike Katz: I’m not really sure, I think it was just the grandeur of it. You actually see it up close and it’s more majestic than I expected. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it really is just an impressive structure. And you actually, just being able to go to the top, it was just, I just enjoyed that kind of thing.

[00:07:58] I mean, it was quite the hike to get to the top, not for the faint of heart.

[00:08:02] Annie Sargent: Or the bad knees.

[00:08:04] Mike Katz: Yeah, or the bad knees. But it just felt very historical, like when you’re in the spiral staircase and you’re walking your way up. And of course the view was fantastic, I don’t know, I get a, I just, something I personally enjoy is just knowing that I’m experiencing the landmarks, and not just seeing them, but experiencing them.

[00:08:24] So that’s what I’d recommend to anybody who hasn’t been to Paris, don’t just look at things, go to them, go in the Eiffel Tower, go in the Arc de Triomphe, you know, see them, because I think it’s really rewarding.

[00:08:36] Annie Sargent: Yes. Do they have a audio tour of the Arc de Triomphe? Or is it just you walk by yourself?

[00:08:43] Mike Katz: I’m sure they do. I didn’t do that one, but I’m sure they do.

[00:08:46] Annie Sargent: But just being in it is fun, and also when you’re on top, you can see the crazy traffic around the Étoile roundabout.

[00:08:54] Mike Katz: Oh, there was a moment where I was thinking, how do I actually get in, because you have to go under, there’s like a little, you have to cross the street and go under the, a little tunnel or something, I didn’t realize that at first, so I kind wandered around a bit, trying to figure out, how do I cross this street?

[00:09:10] Annie Sargent: Do not cross that street.

[00:09:11] Mike Katz: You do not cross the street. I learned that the hard way.

[00:09:15] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And there’s always people wanting to do selfies and they put themselves in danger because they want to be in the middle of the street and the drivers are distracted. I mean, they have to pay attention to the other cars.

Exceptions to the rule on roundabouts in Paris

[00:09:27] Annie Sargent: Now this is, this is an aside, but I want to explain that in France, all roundabouts are now, you yield on entry.

[00:09:36] Just like you do in the US, as a matter of fact, I was just in the US and the few roundabouts that I saw, you have to yield to people who are already on the roundabout, right?

[00:09:44] Well, Paris, France used to be the opposite. You used to have a priority as you enter the roundabout, but then you have to yield to other people entering the roundabout.

[00:09:55] And all of France has gone to the other method except for Paris. So Paris is the last place in France where you do these old style roundabouts that are a mess. And even French people don’t really know how to drive them unless they live in Paris or learn to drive in Paris because it is so different.

[00:10:15] So that’s one of the main reasons why I don’t recommend people driving Paris because it is foreign, like, even for French people, it is foreign, so don’t do it. And I don’t, I don’t think they’ll really change it in Paris. There’s no talk of following the example of the rest of the country.

[00:10:35] Mike Katz: I’m somewhat guilty of taking the photos that you, you urge people not to take. I was one of those people in the middle of the street as well. I mean, at the time, I mean, I realized looking back, probably not the smartest thing, but there’s such a big crowd of people in the middle of the street that I didn’t really feel unsafe per se.

[00:10:52] But maybe, I don’t know, maybe I should have. It’s funny, one of the takeaways I would, like, looking back, I would tell people, don’t worry about getting the perfect photo, because you’ll have more opportunities. On the boat tour, I probably took a hundred photos of the Eiffel Tower, because I wasn’t sure if that was going to be the best view. And then you get the best view, and you’re like, why did I take those hundred photos? So, I would just say, don’t worry, you’ll get the shot.

[00:11:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, this is the method of spray and pray.

[00:11:20] Mike Katz: Exactly. Exactly.

The Natural History Museum

[00:11:22] Annie Sargent: Yes. The next thing you list is the Natural History Museum, which you already mentioned, and I’m not at all surprised that you enjoyed that because I love it also. What part did you go into?

[00:11:34] Mike Katz: I saw a few parts. I saw the Gallery d’Evolution.

[00:11:37] Annie Sargent: That one is so beautiful, The Grande Galerie de l’Évolution is so beautiful, yeah.

[00:11:42] Mike Katz: And the, the one with the skeletons, is it the Anthropologieque?

[00:11:45] Annie Sargent: Anthropology, yes.

[00:11:47] Mike Katz: I saw that one. I even went to the zoo. I don’t know how many people actually walked through the zoo. I went to that.

[00:11:52] There’s actually a garden right there, and they had all of these displays, like artwork kind of, almost like the closest thing I can think of is like balloon animals, right? It’s almost like, they had like a jungle, a tropical theme and they would have these like, I don’t know what they would be called…

[00:12:09] like all these fake animals that were almost like large balloons that like just scattered throughout, it was really quite entertaining, was very cute.

[00:12:16] Annie Sargent: Yes. I think that might have been part of the December Illuminations, where they light up at night all these animals. It’s like walking through a Christmas thing, but it’s not themed Christmas at all. It’s all animals and plants and things.

[00:12:34] Mike Katz: Right. But it was great. And for anyone who goes with families, that’s like the one place I would say you have to go.

[00:12:41] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes. If you’re in Paris with kids between 5 and 15, you really have to go. The Jardin des Plantes has so much for kids, it’s beautiful.

[00:12:51] Mike Katz: Yeah, I really, really, I spent several hours in that area and I just loved all of it. It was great.

[00:12:57] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and in my tour, I take you to the entrance and I tell you, you know, I urge you to go in, but of course, I don’t know if people take the time, but they really should.

[00:13:06] It’s one that I think is, is fabulous.

[00:13:09] Saint Chapelle. Yes. So you said you had a rainy week? It was still beautiful?

[00:13:16] Mike Katz: It was still beautiful. I didn’t get to see the light streaming through the glass windows, but it’s still breathtaking. It really is. And I remember walking in, I walked in the first, you know, the first level that you enter, and I thought to myself, hmm, I don’t know what the big deal is, but then you go up to the second level and you’re like, Oh, now I understand.

[00:13:36] Annie Sargent: That’s it.

[00:13:38] Mike Katz:

[00:13:38] No, it’s just really, really beautiful.

[00:13:42] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And it doesn’t take that long. Were the lines horrible when you were there?

[00:13:47] Mike Katz: No, but it helps to have tickets to everything.

[00:13:50] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:13:51] Mike Katz: I had, I think that was Museum Pass. So yeah, the Museum Pass is one of those, there’s several things that are just, you have to get. Museum Pass is one of them. Because you just a save lot of time.

[00:14:02] Annie Sargent: Yeah, you do, you do.

[00:14:03] So, I go back and forth on this, we used to always recommend the Museum Pass because it used to be even better, if you’re going to do a lot of things in a hurry like you did, it’s really good. But if you have a more leisurely trip, then you probably don’t want the Museum Pass because it’s just going to encourage you to run around and go to all these different places that you might not.

[00:14:24] And some things are not on the Museum Pass, like the next thing you mentioned, the Eiffel Tower, it’s not on the Museum Pass. It’s still totally worth going, right?

[00:14:33] Mike Katz: Yeah. I remember though, like the Orsay, I went, there was a long line, there was nobody in the Museum Pass line. So I just skipped everybody.

[00:14:41] So yeah. So I mean, there are certain moments where I was like, wow, I’m so glad I got this.

[00:14:46] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s great.

Eiffel Tower

[00:14:50] Annie Sargent: So Eiffel Tower, you went up the Eiffel Tower, did you have to ticket in advance or did you buy it that day?

[00:14:55] Mike Katz: I think I bought it that day. There was one, some advice I got, I don’t know if it was from your podcast or somewhere else, but some advice was like, oh, don’t worry, you can get it like after security or something like that. I would just get it ahead of time. So I think I literally bought it when I was standing in the line to get in.

[00:15:13] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:15:13] Mike Katz: But I would just have it ahead of time because it’s, it can be a little stressful trying to figure out, you know, what line, what ticket, what all this stuff.

[00:15:20] Annie Sargent: Yeah. But what line doesn’t matter because all the lines to enter under the Eiffel Tower are all going to the same place, they’re all going to security. And, you know, you might as well, because they say use this line if you already have your ticket, use this line if you don’t have a ticket, use this line if you’re going to the restaurant, but it doesn’t matter.

[00:15:38] They all go into the security area, and they’re not going to check if you have a reservation for the restaurant, you know… So you can just use whatever line is shortest, and people spend a lot of time trying to get tickets, advanced tickets to the Eiffel Tower, you don’t really need to, usually you can just buy them that day, using your app.

[00:15:59] And that’s good advice for most things in Paris. Just, you know, don’t stress out if you don’t get the tickets in advance. Okay, with the Louvre and the Orsay, it’s different because, but the others, you know, if you wake up one morning, oh, today I’m going to the Sainte Chapelle, just open the app and buy the ticket there.

[00:16:18] That’s it, you know, instead of standing in line, buy a ticket on the app.

[00:16:22] Mike Katz: I admit, I was a bit paranoid about getting into certain things. Like, I heard recently the Eiffel Tower was closed for a day. I was just so paranoid about not getting in, right? So, I mean, I remember doing your Iron Lady walking tour for the Eiffel Tower, and I was just so distracted because I was like, I want to just make sure I get in before they close it for some strange reason.

[00:16:47] Annie Sargent: They rarely close it though, I mean, it stays open a lot, an awful lot.

[00:16:52] Mike Katz: There was some protest, I think, a couple weeks ago where they closed it for a day. It was kind of like the Louvre, like once in a while there’ll be some threat and they’ll evacuate the Louvre. I was so paranoid about it that I was like, I get to the Louvre and I go right for the Mona Lisa, so I knew I could actually see it.

[00:17:10] Annie Sargent: That’s great. That’s awesome. All right.

[00:17:13] Then you list the Pantheon, which you already talked about and the Louvre.


[00:17:17] Annie Sargent: How did you handle the Louvre? Did you spend a lot of time there? What did you do?

[00:17:21] Mike Katz: No, I didn’t. I actually followed your advice. I made a list of just five things I really wanted to see, and then I just went to see them. So I really wasn’t there that long, I was there probably about an hour and a half.

[00:17:33] Because the Louvre to me is, it’s so overwhelming that I can’t imagine just, oh, I’m just going to go to the Louvre and just walk around, I just can’t imagine that.

[00:17:42] I just saw a lot of the, you know, some of the famous things like The Vénus de Milo, and obviously the Mona Lisa and things like that. I really liked The Code of Hammurabi, that was the hystorical side of me, that was pretty neat.

[00:17:54] Annie Sargent: And that’s in a very distinct section, you have to walk to that one. Yeah.

[00:17:59] Mike Katz: I had to ask somebody three times where it was because I kept trying to find it and I couldn’t find it. But it’s obviously, it’s the Louvre, it’s an amazing place, but it’s just so, it’s so overwhelming.

[00:18:11] Annie Sargent: But an hour and a half was not bad. You did good. You did good.

[00:18:15] Mike Katz: And the Napoleon Apartments were closed, unfortunately. They were being renovated.

[00:18:19] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s too bad because that’s quite spectacular. It’s going to be even more spectacular after the renovation, I’m sure.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France by the Louvre

[00:18:27] Annie Sargent: Very good. Then you went to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, by the Louvre, you went to the BNF.

[00:18:32] How do you like that?

[00:18:33] Mike Katz: Oh, it’s beautiful. Beautiful. Just to even just go there, take some pictures, it’s not like any library I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely more majestic.

[00:18:43] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yeah.

[00:18:45] Mike Katz: So no, it’s just, just a great photo op. I definitely think it’s worth it, 100%.

The Orsay Museum

[00:18:50] Annie Sargent: Yeah, the Orsay Museum, how much time did you spend in the Orsay?

[00:18:54] Mike Katz: I pretty much saw the whole thing. I don’t know how was there. That one’s definitely not overwhelming, it’s very easy to get around. So, yeah, I mean, I’ll be honest, I liked the Orsay, but to me it’s not anything, doesn’t have any of the grandeur of the Louvre, right?

[00:19:10] But yeah, it was the Orsay, I liked it.

The Orangerie Museum

[00:19:14] Annie Sargent: Very good. You went to the Orangerie Museum, also a beautiful place.

[00:19:20] Mike Katz: Yes, you can be in and out of that place in an hour, at most.

[00:19:23] No, but I saw it, what was it, the…my brain is blanking now on the famous, the famous thing there…

[00:19:29] Annie Sargent: The water lilies.

[00:19:30] Mike Katz: Water lilies, thank you, yes, yeah, definitely worth seeing, I mean, in my opinion, people might disagree, in my opinion, if you see the Louvre and the Orsay, like, unless you’re a museum buff, I don’t think anything else is like, you must go.

[00:19:45] Annie Sargent: I did the Cluny, I did a whole bunch of other museums, I don’t even remember what they were, and I thought they were fine, they were nice, but wasn’t like, you have to go, as far I’m concerned.

[00:19:55] Yeah, unless there is an exhibit or something that really calls your name, you know, if there’s something that really… yeah, yeah.

[00:20:03] Mike Katz: 100%, yeah.

The Tuileries Gardenand Notre Dame

[00:20:04] Annie Sargent: The Tuileries Garden and Notre Dame. Notre Dame is still not reopened, will not be until the end of 2024. I mean, you can still look at it from the outside, it’s still fun to see, right?

[00:20:16] Mike Katz: I’d recommend it, actually, I mean, especially at night, the lights are beautiful, and the right across the way you go up the stairs or the steps and you can sit at the top and take some great photos. Also they have the panels outside where they talk about the renovation. So I definitly think it’s worth going for sure.

[00:20:33] Annie Sargent: So you stayed at a hotel that I’ve recommended to a lot of people, it’s called 9 Confidentiel. How did you like it?

[00:20:41] Mike Katz: I loved it. I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. And if I go back to Paris, I’ll go back there.

[00:20:47] Great location in the Marais, very friendly, good breakfast buffet. The rooms were fine.

[00:20:53] I thought it was, it was wonderful. I got really lucky.

[00:20:55] Annie Sargent: The price is fair.

[00:20:57] Mike Katz: I thought it was fair. I mean definitely it’s not a budget place.

[00:21:00] Annie Sargent: No.

[00:21:01] Mike Katz: I didn’t think it was outrageous.

[00:21:02] Annie Sargent: Yeah. No, it’s a good place, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Trip logistics

[00:21:07] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk a little bit about the logistics of your trip. So now let’s go back to day by day, what things did you group day by day? I think that would be interesting to anybody who’s going to Paris for the first time.

[00:21:19] How do you put this trip together?

[00:21:22] Mike Katz: Sure, so, the first day I stayed in the Marais, so I just did the Marais walking tour, because it was easy. Yeah, I actually got in, I had all the afternoon, it was a decent amount of time, but the Marais walking tour, I think I did, it’s funny, in my notes, I actually wrote, for certain places, I think I went there, because I don’t even remember, it was so much, I did so much in the five days.I think I did the Carnaval…

[00:21:46] Annie Sargent: Carnavalet. Yeah.

[00:21:48] Mike Katz: But I did the Île de la Cité walking tour as well, so I did two walking tours the first day.

[00:21:52] Annie Sargent: That day, wow.

[00:21:53] Mike Katz: Yeah, and then I did the Vedette du Pont Neuf, the boat tour at night.

[00:21:57] Annie Sargent: Okay.

[00:21:58] Mike Katz: Friday was the museums, I did the l’Orangerie, you know, obviously went through the Tuileries, I went to the Louvre, I did the BNF, and then at night I went to the Arc de Triomphe.

[00:22:07] Annie Sargent: And that’s all within walking distance, really. I mean, all of those, if you do them in that order, the advantage is that the Orangerie opens at 9 in the morning, so you can start there and then make your way to the Louvre, which the earliest tickets are usually 10 or 10:30. So, you know, you have to time it right as well. And then Louvre is going to take you a couple of hours probably, then you’ll be hungry, have some lunch, and then BNF, which takes an hour, or a little more if you would like to, and then you’re pretty close to the Art de Triomphe, so you can just walk there, or take a bus, or Uber, or whatever. I usually walk there, it’s not…

[00:22:44] Mike Katz: Yeah, and it’s funny because I’m a big walker, so I walked an average 5 miles a day. I was planning on walking more, but it got to the point where I was, like, the skin was coming off of my feet, so I had to start taking the metro, and by the last day I was just taking the metro everywhere because everything hurts so much,but definitely…

[00:23:02] Annie Sargent: It’s a sport, going to Paris is a sport.

[00:23:05] Mike Katz: Exactly, but it’s definitely, I think it’s great to visit any city and just walk because you see so much.

[00:23:11] So Saturday I did the Saint Germain walking tour, the Orsay, then I did the Army Museum, the Les Invalides, and then later I just did a, I wanted to see a couple of places, the Grande Épicerie and the Le Bon Marché, I just went to see those as well, that was Saturday.

[00:23:29] Annie Sargent: That would have been better to not go to the Invalides that day. So, you know, because you went back and forth between two neighborhoods. But you could have, you could have, because once you’re at the Orsay, you’re not very far from La Grande Épicerie and Bon Marche, so, yeah, but whatever. Yeah.

[00:23:46] Mike Katz: I think I just had the time, so I was just trying to figure out what can I squeeze in. I did not have any idle moments, I’m telling you. Sunday I did, I did the Saint Chapelle, the Notre Dame, I did the Latin Quarter walking tour, I did the Cluny, and the Pantheon, and then the, well, it’s part of the Latin Quarter walking tour. I did the Jardin des Plantes on that day.

[00:24:05] Annie Sargent: But you probably didn’t spend much time in the Luxembourg garden, which is also right there, but I mean, if it’s a rainy day, yeah.

[00:24:13] Mike Katz: Yeah, exactly. And plus, I was, you know, I did a lot of walking and I could see like you walk in the garden and it just looks endless and I’m just like, I could, it’ll take me two hours to go down to the other side. And I was like, I don’t have the energy for this.

[00:24:26] But they’re beautiful. All the gardens are beautiful.

[00:24:28] Annie Sargent: Well, you got to keep some for next time, right?

[00:24:30] Mike Katz: And then Monday was just Eiffel Tower, I did the Iron Lady walking tour, then I went all the way over to Montmartre. I did the Sacré Cœur. But that, thankfully, that was the metro. I wasn’t going to walk that.

[00:24:43] Annie Sargent: No, yeah, No. Yeah, you don’t want to walk to Montmartre that’s long way.

[00:24:49] Mike Katz: And then I just saw a couple of sites at the end. I wanted to see the Moulin Rouge, at least from the outside at night.

[00:24:54] And then I did the Galerie Lafayette, and I just took a quick peek at the Palais Garnier on the outside. But that was, that was the trip, it was, by then I was, you know, crawling into a suitcase.

Any surprises?

[00:25:05] Annie Sargent: Were there any surprises, anything that really surprised you that you want to warn people about or let them know because you weren’t prepared?

[00:25:15] Mike Katz: I would say, if there’s any place you really want to go, like a restaurant, go on the early side. Because I remember you had recommended Les Antiquaires, and I went on the early side, and I was, you know, there was nobody there, and I was, I wasn’t really hungry enough, so I’ll come back.

[00:25:32] I come back, and there’s 300 people there.I was like, oh well, that didn’t work. So then I couldn’t eat there. So I would just save the certain things. One of the other things also is the walking tours, I would just be mindful of when you start. Because I started too early on some of them and everything was closed.

[00:25:49] So all the things you’re saying, oh, go in here, go in there, they’re all closed.

[00:25:52] Annie Sargent: Yeah. It’s not open yet. Yeah.

[00:25:54] Mike Katz: Yeah, so that’s something I realize now.

[00:25:56] Annie Sargent: Yeah, because, well, but when you want to fill your days to the extent that you did, like, you know, things are going to be closed until 9 or 10, those things are closed, yeah.

[00:26:08] Mike Katz: One other tip I’d give people is the Louvre, the side entrances, as you recommended, aregreat idea, you don’t up at the pyramid. But one thing I didn’t realize is if you’re even one minute earlier than your time, they will send you to the back of the line.

[00:26:23] Annie Sargent: Oh!

[00:26:23] Mike Katz: So don’t show up early, show up late.

[00:26:27] Annie Sargent: Huh, that’s just crazy, they didn’t used to do that.

[00:26:31] Mike Katz: Yeah.

[00:26:31] Annie Sargent: Hmm, that’s good, they must have changed the policy.

[00:26:34] Mike Katz: And they will check.

[00:26:35] Annie Sargent: Well, I know that in Monet’s garden in Giverny, they don’t let you enter early, but… That’s annoying, yeah.

Things not enjoyed?

[00:26:46] Annie Sargent: Very good! Some things you didn’t enjoy that much and that you think perhaps people should skip that?

[00:26:53] Mike Katz: I would just say, I mean, I kind of, some of the museums, I thought they were fine. I don’t know that I needed to go to all of them. I don’t regret it, but I think that, it’s like you said, for some of the lesser known ones, see if there’s anything there you really want to see. Because if there isn’t, then, you know, maybe you do something different.

[00:27:12] But there wasn’t really anything where I thought, wow, what a waste of my time. Why did I come here? There, there wasn’t really anything like that.

[00:27:19] Annie Sargent: Yeah, no, this is Paris, and also, because you have the Museum Pass, so many of these museums are included in the pass, it probably like, encourages you to go in because it’s, as far as you’re concerned, it’s free, right? You already paid for the pass, it’s free. So, yeah, that’s probably why you went to so many museums.

[00:27:39] Mike Katz: Yes. I definitely wanted to see as much as I could.

[00:27:41] Annie Sargent: You know, if you had to pay 15 euros every time you entered somewhere, you would have probably considered it. Do I really want to see this or not, you know?

[00:27:50] Mike Katz: True. I it’s also just the convenience of it. That was the main thing, because I knew I was, I had a schedule I wanted to keep, and just being able to just go into all the shorter lines was really wonderful.

[00:28:01] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah. So let’s see. One of the questions I asked you is what tips you want to share with other visitors, and oh, we’ve talked about a lot of this stuff. The latest scheduled ride to see the Eiffel Tower sparkling. Oh, you mean the latest schedule of the boat.

[00:28:19] Mike Katz: The latest boat.

[00:28:21] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you do want to, and like you said at the beginning, yes, they all, they try to stop and wait for the sparkle.

[00:28:29] It’s every hour on the hour for five minutes after sunset. So in November, sunset is, you know, it’s like 7:30 or something? So…

[00:28:41] Mike Katz: I think I took a later one. I think it was like 8:45 or something like that.

[00:28:46] Annie Sargent: Uh huh, yeah, but they do, they do make sure that you see it, of course. Everybody wants to see that.


[00:28:52] Mike Katz: Don’t expect to hear the tour guide, because there’s all these kids on the boat and they’re so loud, I couldn’t hear a thing the person was saying.

[00:29:02] Annie Sargent: They’re not that fascinating, those tours, but yeah, I’ve wondered about doing a VoiceMap tour where I narrate, based on what you’re seeing. But the thing is, sometimes they do the ride in a different order, just to accommodate other boats and whatever, and so if they go a different route, the set off points are not going to work. So I’m like, eh, no, I probably can’t do that.

[00:29:22] All right, let me see, let me look at all of this.

[00:29:25] Now, was this trip stressful? Do you always travel this, like, at a super high pace? Or was reserved for Paris?

[00:29:35] Mike Katz: No, for major international cities, I’ve been fortunate enough to go to a few, this is pretty much what I do, because I always assume I won’t be back. I often do get back, but I sometimes, I just typically assume I won’t. I try to do all of the key things just because yeah, you never know, right?

[00:29:52] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and you probably don’t have a ton of vacation that you, you know, time is of the essence for most of us.

[00:29:58] Mike Katz: It’s also not easy to travel across the world all the time, so…

[00:30:02] Annie Sargent: That’s true. It’s expensive and it’s taxing, it’s difficult. Did you run into any problems with jet lag? Because really you must have been jet lagged the whole time?

[00:30:11] Mike Katz: I was, but, you know, it’s Paris. You power through it.

[00:30:18] Annie Sargent: Did you

What is is like eating by yourself at a restaurant in Paris?

[00:30:19] Annie Sargent: spend a lot of time in restaurants? Did you have any great meals? What is it like eating by yourself at a restaurant in Paris?

[00:30:26] Mike Katz: It wasn’t bad, really. I think, I didn’t feel uncomfortable about eating by myself. I think the most interesting factor for me was whether or not they wanted to speak French. Because I’m learning French, I like to use it. And certain restaurants, I can name drop one, there was one called the L’Acanthe, they were wonderful about it. I showed up at a, that was pretty early, and they were open, and it was literally three employes, and I was the only one in the restaurant. So we were literally just chatting in French, because it was very relaxed, and they were very cool about it.

[00:31:01] Annie Sargent: Nice.

[00:31:01] Mike Katz: But if you go to some other places, there was a place called the, I don’t know how to say it Breizh, Breizh Café, the food was good, but they were stuffier about the French, I would speak French, they would reply in English.

[00:31:16] I’d speak French again, and they’d reply in English again, and I was like, okay, I get it, you want me to speak English. But a lot of the places were just really friendly, that’s what I enjoyed more about the restaurants than the, like the food was good, but that’s what I really enjoyed, being able to talk to them, so just finding those places where they’re good about it is nice.

How were the prices in Paris?

[00:31:36] Annie Sargent: How did you find the prices of things, of food, of whatever things that you bought along the way?

[00:31:42] Mike Katz: I thought they were reasonable, I mean, I live in the Bay Area.

[00:31:44] So,I mean, it’s kind of, kind of used to things being expensive.

[00:31:48] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:31:49] Mike Katz: So, I don’t know, it didn’t really shock me, I don’t have any remarkable thoughts about that.

[00:31:55] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, so you didn’t find France particularly expensive or cheap?

[00:32:00] Mike Katz: It’s what I would expect. That’s what I would say to people. I mean, yeah, I’m sure you could go to Vietnam and have a much, much cheaper trip, right?

[00:32:08] But you know, it’s Paris, so what do you expect?

[00:32:12] Annie Sargent: So did this trip encourage you to perhaps do this again, or are you thinking, oh no, I got another city that I need to visit next?

[00:32:20] Mike Katz: I would say both. If I’m ever in the vicinity.No, I definitely would love to go back for sure. I mean, Paris is wonderful as everyone knows. But I do, I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the other citiesLyon, Marseille, whatever, I spent most of my time, I didn’t even go to Versailles, I just spent most of my time in the center. So I’m sure there’s so much more I would enjoy in Paris.

[00:32:42] Annie Sargent: Yeah, oh, in five days, you really shouldn’t make, I mean, unless you have a lifelong dream of seeing Versailles in five days, you really don’t, it’s way too… it’s not that far, but it’s, yeah, it takes an hour and some to just to get on the train, but then you have to wait for the train, you have to walk to the train station, you have to, you know, so it’s a two hour thing just getting there and then it’s huge.

[00:33:06] Yeah, you need to take your time. You need to have a whole day, pretty much, for Versailles, and so most people, if you only have five days, don’t do that.

[00:33:15] Mike Katz: Yes.

[00:33:16] Annie Sargent: Yes. Wow, wonderful. I’m really happy that you had a great trip. I was a little worried when I talked to you in the itinerary that you were going to be all over the place and dissatisfied that you didn’t really have time to experience things, but you did great!

[00:33:32] You probably run on one of these energy drinks. What do to keep going?

[00:33:41] But thank you so much for talking to me and hopefully we’ll talk again when you come visit the rest of France. I’ll be very happy to talk to you again, Mike.

[00:33:50] Mike Katz: No, thank you. And I want to thank you for all of the great advice and it really made the trip that much better. So I want to thank you for that.

[00:33:58] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. Merci beaucoup.

[00:34:01] Mike Katz: All right. Merci.

[00:34:01] Au revoir!

Thank you, patrons!

[00:34:02] 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

[00:34:22] Thank you all for supporting the show, some of you have been doing it for a long time, you are wonderful.

[00:34:29] And a shout out this week to new patrons: Karine C. from Canada, and also welcome back Craig Rutter and Amanda Brinkenhoff. Wonderful to have you on board of the community of people who support this podcast. If you’d like to join them, or support Elyse, go to for me. And for Elyse, go to

[00:34:57] And there is this thing going on with Patreon that makes me crazy, but I can’t do anything about it.

[00:35:02] So when you hear this call for support and you think to yourself, oh, sure, I’ll support this podcast, I really enjoy it, and you browse to either Patreon/joinus or /ElysArt, the first thing you see now is ‘Join for free’. And lots of you decide that’s what you’re going to do because hey, if it’s free, it’s even better, right? The thing is if you do that, you get absolutely nothing extra because I am not going to share extras with people who don’t really support.

[00:35:33] You know, the podcast is free, Patreon is not. So please don’t pick that ‘Join for free” thing. I know it helps Patreon, because now you’ve agreed to them, you know, tracking you over the internet, they sell your data, blah, blah, blah. But I don’t do that. I get absolutely nothing at all. Not a penny. So please don’t do it.

[00:35:55] Because every week when I look at my number of patrons, I see, oh, I got one real and, you know, 20 free, like, why do you even do that? Why? It’s a little bit of your money I would like, not one more tick, you know, oh, I got so many patrons, oh, like, eh, sorry, I’m being very, very French about this, aren’t I?

[00:36:19] But it is how I feel, like, I don’t understand why they did this, other than it helps them with data.

[00:36:26] At any rate, thank you to those of you who are patrons and do part with a little bit of your hard earned cash to support this podcast. And thank you, Amanda and Greg, for renewing. Because that’s another thing, when you are a patron, and if all of a sudden you don’t hear from me anymore, it’s good to check whether your membership has lapsed. They don’t really warn you, it just happens. And so I would love for you to take a look at that as well.

[00:36:55] And thank you also for your one time donation, Casey Amistead. Casey went to, she found a green button that says ‘Tip your guide’ and sent in her tip. Thank you so much. This week I recorded a casual convo with Elyse where we comment on our lives and French politics. I haven’t published it yet because I’ve been crazy busy, but it’s coming, it’s coming folks.

Review Île de la Cité

[00:37:19] Annie Sargent: There were several new comments on my VoiceMap tours this week. I wonder if it’s the same person who commented on all of them. Here’s what this person said about my Île de la Cité tour: ‘Appreciated that the commentary was up to date with Notre Dame progress, informative and enjoyable’.

[00:37:37] And, yes, I do update my tours as much as possible. I mean, I can’t tell you about, you know, closures that happen for a day or two, but for things that are going to take a long time, like, unfortunately, the extensive damage on Notre Dame, of course, I changed the tour, and I’ll be in Paris in March to write a new tour, and if time permits at all, I will probably make minor updates to my already published tours. And if you already own them, you can update them at any time. And I will let you know when there’s new stuff and you don’t have to pay for them again.


Review Saint-Germain-des-Prés VoiceMap tour

[00:38:15] Annie Sargent: Here’s a comment about my Saint-Germain-des-Prés tour: ‘Took about three hours with a longer stop at Brasserie des Prés, and quick stops for coffee and chocolate along the way. Enjoyable to explore at your own pace. This was the first tour we did with Annie, and have done two more since being in Paris.’ And thank you for reviewing them, that really, really helps. And yes, with VoiceMap, you can do things at your own pace.

[00:38:42] You can stop, start, go back, you can listen at home even, if you’d like. So, yeah.

Review Latin Quarter VoiceMap tour

[00:38:47] Annie Sargent: About my Latin Quarter Tour: Love the tour. I took it walking around my condo in Chicago in preparation for the real thing in May. That’s what I was saying. You can walk them from a distance. Thank you Annie for providing such a wonderful experience.

Review Montmartre VoiceMap tour

[00:39:03] Annie Sargent: And about my Montmartre tour: ‘Third tour of Annie’s we took in a long weekend. It took two and a half hours with stops for pictures and a 20 minute coffee stop. Hills were not bad and Annie was very informative. Yes, for this one in Montmartre, I try to take you to the least hilly route.

[00:39:25] I mean, you do end up at the same point in the end, but I try to avoid long stretches of steps because I have bad knees and I figure I’m not the only one.

New VoiceMap tour coming soon

[00:39:36] Annie Sargent: And I’ll be in Paris soon to write a new VoiceMap tour. It’s going to be a self-guided food tour. And I know most people think that food tours should be either in Saint Germain or in Le Marais, but those are not the foodie areas of Paris.

[00:39:54] I mean, there’s good food there as well, but really the historical food area of Paris is Les Halles, and that’s where I’m going to take you. And I’m going to make it possible for you to be guided through the best of this neighborhood, as I always do, but also give you suggestions as to what to purchase and what to taste along the way, or things that you can take back with you when you go back.

Busy Day

[00:40:21] Annie Sargent: Today, I did two itinerary consults, two VIPs, and I also did a recording of an episode. Which is why I’m like, oh, my brain is fried. Because you know, when I do a VIP itinerary, not only do I talk to you for an hour at least, but I also take a lot of notes, think it through, you know, write a lot of new stuff, make some calls, I mean, it’s pretty involved as a process. And so, I mean, I’m not complaining, I love doing it. But what I’m saying is, it’s work, it’s real work to make it simple for you to have a good time in Paris without putting in the endless hours yourself, because really, a good trip should have a minimum of planning, otherwise you just run into too many snags.

Update on the apartment renovation

[00:41:13] Annie Sargent: So, my update, in my experience with the kitchen renovation in my Spain apartment, just a tiny bit of background. My parents bought this apartment in Villanova y la Geltrú, that’s just south of Barcelona, when I was a kid. And I’ve been coming here since I was little. My cousins come here as well.

[00:41:33] This is a wonderful place with a wonderful beach. The apartment is not on the beach, my apartment is not on the beach, it is closer to the city center, which is great because I get to go to the market, I get to participate in kind of Spanish life, you know, with a Rambla and all of that, and I can just go, I mean, it’s 500 meters away, the Rambla is very close to my apartment.

[00:41:57] So I can just go and enjoy all of that. And I also, these days go to the Rambla for Spanish classes because you know, I’ve decided it’s better late than never. I need to learn Spanish.

[00:42:09] At any rate, this apartment is old and needed a lot of help. And there were a couple of things that I wanted to redo, and then I thought, well, you’re doing it, you might as well do it right. So we changed pretty much all the doors and windows. That’s the external doors and windows. We now have high efficiency doors and windows, which is great because what we had before was pretty old and pretty rackety. And then we did the floor. So I added a… it’s not a vinyl, it’s another V something.

[00:42:45] It’s a little harder then the Luxury Vinyl Planks is what they call the other kind, but it’s a little newer than that, but it’s that same sort of thing. It’s not too difficult to do. It’s not like doing tile or something, but it is pretty involved and you obviously have to remove everything from the room.

[00:43:04] And so we have been playing Tetris with all the items in the apartment. I’ve changed all the closets, cabinets, things like that, that were very old and very rickety. And we took down the kitchen recently and that kitchen renovation is just difficult because, well, you’re without a kitchen for however long.

[00:43:28] And it turns out that when we removed the old kitchen we realized that the walls are crooked, not plum, not straight, not to the square, and to put in a modern kitchen, unless it’s completely custom and somebody’s just going to work with your walls, you need, you know, plum, level, all of that. And so we had to redo some walls.

[00:43:50] That set me back about a week just finding people. And my problem is, I’m doing the management of this project. So I have to find contractors and I have to talk to them. And like I mentioned before, I don’t speak very good Spanish. So it’s really complicated. And I have no background in this. I mean, I have managed construction projects before in the US when we built a house, but I spoke the language there, you know.

[00:44:20] So it’s been challenging to say the least, but I have, poco a poco, as they say, I have managed to find the right people. Sometimes it takes a long time to get someone to actually come give you a bid, but eventually most of them do.

[00:44:38] And when they do the work, they do a really good job. Now, I decided to get my kitchen cabinets from Ikea and I thought that getting Ikea to install everything was a better idea and that turned out to not be the case, at least for the Ikea here. Okay? This is the Catalonia, it’s the Barcelona kind of set up. Because they subcontract with a company called Sama, which is evil, because they are very demanding and not at all comunicative. So they don’t show up and they don’t tell you why. You have to go hunting them down. They changed dates that, like they changed the date of the delivery. They changed the date of the install of my kitchen, just like that. And they didn’t tell me. So they set me back another, you know, another week or so.

[00:45:35] And once they came to install, the two guys who did it worked from 9am till 9pm and took no break. This company just exploits these people. I’m sorry. That’s just terrible. They should have planned two days for this kitchen install. And in the end, they didn’t do a great job. They sliced wood inside of my apartment.

[00:45:58] I should have yelled. I should have told them to, but when they, when it started, I thought, okay, maybe they’re going to do like a couple of pieces, whatever. No, no. They cut a lot of things to size inside the apartment. Ah! So it took a couple of days of cleaning to get over that. It’s about to the point where it’s okay again.

[00:46:20] Then somebody came to measure for the countertops and I will have to come back in late March for the countertop install. And today, another guy came, and by now I’ve had some lessons or whatever, so it was easier to talk to him. And he’s going to do interior doors. And so I asked him, are you going to cut anything inside here?

[00:46:42] And he looked at me like, no, we don’t do that. I was like: Oh, thank God!

[00:46:47] But anyway, it’s an adventure. It’ll be really, really nice, once it’s done. I really look forward to being able to come here for a week or two and enjoy the beach, learn a little Spanish, do my work because I can work from here. I have an office and so I can just do my work as I normally would. But it’s just such a nice place, especially in the winter months. In Toulouse, the winter can be kind of, it’s not super cold or anything, but it can get dreary and foggy for a long time. Sometimes you don’t see the sky for a couple of days. It’s not really raining. It’s just very low sky, and it never gets like that in Villanova.

[00:47:34] So in the winter time, it would be very nice for me to be able to escape to get a little sunshine once in a while.

[00:47:42] At any rate, if you’re still with me after all this complaining, understand that today was a long day for me. But I get to drive home tomorrow, so I’m very, very excited to be going home because I’ve found out on this trip that, because I’ve been here for a month, by myself, well with the dog, but I don’t do great by myself for extended periods of time. For a week or two I’m fine, but then I get lonely. I don’t know, I got lonely. Thank God the dog was with me. She really makes it fun because she gets so excited about, you know, every little walk, every time we go to the beach, she’s like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:48:23] So she’s pumped and it helps me be pumped as well. Because some days I was like discouraged, like, am I ever going to get this finished? But yes, I will. I’m pretty close at this point, so I’m very excited.

[00:48:35] My thanks to podcast editors Anne and Christian Cotovan who produce the transcripts.

Next week on the podcast

[00:48:41] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, a conversation with my good friend from Paris, Patricia Perry, where she shares tips for the Olympic traveler, for people who are coming to Paris for the Olympics, because Paris is going to be very different from what you know Paris normally. But there are things you can do to have a pleasant experience, you just need to be prepared. And that’s what we’re going to do in next week’s episode of the podcast.

[00:49:14] Thank you so much for listening. And I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.

[00:49:20] Au revoir.



[00:49:21] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France travel podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2024 by AddictedToFrance. 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 

Categories: Paris, Solo in France