Transcript for Episode 483: Paris Olympics 2024: Navigating the City of Light

Category: Paris



[00:00:15] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 483, quatre cent quatre vingt trois.

[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.

Paris Olympics 2024: Navigating the City of Light

[00:00:31] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Patricia Perry and an update on the Paris 2024 Olympics, and what you can do to be prepared for summer in Paris, whether or not you’ll be attending Olympic events.

[00:00:46] We discuss transportation, such as metro, bikes, etc., and security, lodging, weather, and strikes, which are always a possibility in France. Will you get anything out of this episode if you’re not going to be in Paris in July, or August, or September, early September 2024? Perhaps not.

[00:01:07] On the other hand, if you’ve never listened to this podcast and went searching for information about what to expect in Paris during the 2024 Olympics, you’re in the right place and welcome to you, we hope you stick around.

Podcast supporters

[00:01:20] 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 of France in my electric car.

[00:01:37] You can browse all of that at my boutique, And I got to say, the GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app are going to be very handy dandy for Paris, for people who are visiting Paris for the first time for the Olympics.

The Magazine segment of the podcast: Navigo Pass During the Olympics

[00:01:55] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after my chat with Patricia, I’ll discuss the Navigo pass during the Olympics, and the prices of tickets. Because it will not be business as usual.

Patricia and Annie about Navigating Paris during the Olympics

[00:02:17] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Patricia and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:02:21] Patricia Perry: Bonjour, Annie. Happy to be there. Hello from Paris.

[00:02:24] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes, you are talking to me in Paris and I’m talking to you from Spain.

[00:02:30] Patricia Perry: You’re the foreigner now.

[00:02:31] Annie Sargent: Yes, very soon we’ll be together in your apartment, so that’ll be fun.

[00:02:35] At any rate, we are discussing the Paris Olympic Games, and kind of strategies to keep your sanity during Olympic Games. Tell us why this is something you care about, Patricia.

[00:02:52] Patricia Perry: Well, actually I’m going to be one of the official volunteers and I’ve actually been assigned to a transportation venue. I don’t know anything about it yet because they haven’t told us anything except that you’ve been selected and kind of what team you’re on, so I’m hoping they’ll have a lot more information before we are on the ground trying to do something.

[00:03:12] And my family is coming, so I have a lot of my family here too and, you know, I would like to make it easier for them, and friends coming, so it’s like, yeah, need to figure this stuff out, ahead of time.

[00:03:23] Annie Sargent: All right.

Transportation Strategies for the Olympics

[00:03:23] Annie Sargent: So what do you think is going to be the best way to handle a visit to Paris during the Olympics?

[00:03:31] Patricia Perry: Probably the first thing is like, where are you staying? And if you can possibly stay anywhere reasonably close to the venue or venues that you have tickets for, that is the very optimal situation. Because the ideal way to get to the venue is to walk, because, I can guarantee you that the metro, the buses, the trams, will be very crowded, and there will be problems.

[00:04:01] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:04:02] Patricia Perry: It’s crowded now, so I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like during the Olympics.

[00:04:07] Annie Sargent: So yes, they’ve announced that they’re adding, you know, service, but there’s only so much that you can add.

[00:04:15] Patricia Perry: I mean, the metro trains right now, the busy lines, they come every three minutes. You can’t get any closer than that, you know, without having safety problems. And buses are subject to surface gridlock, which, you know, they’re going to try and control and add some more buses, have some buses to dedicated venues. They have bus lanes today, but I don’t see that they’re that effective, you know, the buses still don’t move that fast.


Bike Rentals

[00:04:40] Patricia Perry: The other things that you can do are, there’s maybe bikes available, there’s the Paris Vélib system, which is, it’s good, but it’s limited, and if you had never used it before, you’re going to struggle at first to use it.

[00:04:54] It’s not very intuitive, but it does work and it’s probably the cheapest. And then there’s a lot of floating bike pools also like Lime, and Move, and Tier, and Dott. Those are all electric bikes. So you’re probably going to have to sign up for those ahead of time, and you’ll be charged an initiation fee and some travel fee on those.

[00:05:17] But the problem with a lot of this stuff, like, well, especially for Vélib, is like, everybody’s going to be going to these limited number of venues, so all the bikes are going to end up there, whereas in the normal flow, they kind of circulate around town more normally. So, it’s not the normal traffic pattern for all these little rental things.

[00:05:37] Annie Sargent: Right, because the whole idea with a Vélib is that you drop it off at a station.

[00:05:42] Patricia Perry: Yes, you have to lock it up.

[00:05:44] Annie Sargent: Yes, you have to find a place where you can lock it up in a station, and if all the stations are busy, which, why wouldn’t they be, if there’s an event going on?

[00:05:56] Yeah, that’s going to be a problem.

[00:05:57] Patricia Perry: They say they’re adding 10.000 more bike racks. They didn’t say Vélib spaces, you know, at busy venues like the Stade de France and the Eiffel Tower. So we’ll see if that helps them.

[00:06:10] And the other option, you know, we used to have the little e-scooters, the little tiny two wheelers. They’ve been banished from Paris, so they are no longer an option if people were thinking they would be able to do that, they are gone.

[00:06:22] Although you might be able to rent one from a store, but not from the, sort of, the general floating pool of things.

[00:06:29] Annie Sargent: So the ones that have been banned are the rentals of these scooters. Individuals can still have a scooter, and ride a scooter, but if you’re Lime or whatever, you can’t rent scooters in Paris, you have to just do electric bikes.

[00:06:45] Patricia Perry: And then, once again, you’re not going to be able to take them into the venue, and there’s not going to be a lot of places to lock them up, so, when you get there, you have a problem.

[00:06:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yes, I really think you were right on at the beginning when you said the best solution is to walk because at least you have nothing to park.

[00:07:05] Patricia Perry: Yeah.

[00:07:06] Annie Sargent: There will be people on the sidewalks as well.

[00:07:09] Patricia Perry: Yes.

[00:07:11] Annie Sargent: I think that’s the most viable solution. So use Google Maps to ascertain how far it is to walk for you and get walking.

[00:07:22] Patricia Perry: Yeah. Wear comfortable walking shoes, have your sun hat, sunglasses, and water. But people should realize that Paris is actually a very compact city. The central Paris area is only 10 kilometers in diameter, or six miles, so some of the venues are actually very centrally located, a number of them are just on the periphery, so it’s much, much smaller than London, or you know, a lot of other places. If you’ve been to the Olympics and other places, it’ll be different because Paris is very small and compact and dense.

[00:07:54] Annie Sargent: Yes, very dense. Yeah, plan on, on walking, give it plenty of time.

Security Measures and Precautions

[00:08:00] Annie Sargent: As you walk, it is likely that you will run into some security.

[00:08:04] Patricia Perry: Yeah, they’re setting up security zones around all the venues and also some areas that are like along the Seine, or areas that are near to the venues. And the security plan has not been released yet, but in theory, it’s going to be some code you’ll have on your phone that you’ll have to show to a security person to get into that zone.

[00:08:24] Or you have to have a ticket, or you have, or an emergency worker, or police, or athlete, or something like that. A lot of people are not real happy about that.And they’re going to be using, they’ve installed cameras and they’re going to be using drones to monitor people. And of course, protests against that started a long time ago, with artificial intelligence to try and identify issues that require security attention.

[00:08:50] Annie Sargent: Yeah. It’s going to be difficult. So in France, we had a system like this for the COVID situation, where we were all told, install this app and you create an account and you identify yourself in this app, and then the app makes a QR code that lets security people, during COVID it was at the entrance of venues, or even grocery stores, the big grocery stores, you had to show your QR code to enter the grocery store because it showed that you had been vaccinated.

[00:09:26] Thank goodness this didn’t go on for very long, but I think they’re going to use a similar system because that was pretty fast. You could have a few security people at the door, you know, and you’re warned as you approach, you know, get your QR code ready. And it goes pretty fast, they don’t have to check it against your ID, see if you have your ticket, all of that is done in the app before you ever show up. So perhaps that’s what they’ll do, that would be my guess.

[00:09:57] Patricia Perry: Yeah. And like I say…

[00:09:58] Annie Sargent: They haven’t told us.

[00:10:00] Patricia Perry: They haven’t told any of this, you know, the transportation plan, the security plan, none of this has been publicized yet. We just, we hear little bits and pieces, okay, this is a theory of what it’s going to look like, but, you know, the actual parts and pieces of how it’s going to work have yet to be known to the public.

[00:10:17] Annie Sargent: Right. But if you are visiting Paris and not going to Olympic venues, if you’re visiting just because you want to be visiting, it’s going to create some complications for you because there are places where they will just turn you away. There’s going to be streets where they say, nope, this is a secured area, only people who have tickets can enter this area.

Metro Stations Closed

[00:10:38] Patricia Perry: And some metro stations will be closed for security purposes, like for example, Concord, Place Concord is a venue. So, they’re going to close the Concord station, which is a very central metro station, you know.

[00:10:51] Annie Sargent: And they always do this in France, wherever there are big events, they usually close one or two, or three metro stations closest to that event, forcing people to walk. For some reason it’s better for security. I’m not a security professional, I don’t know, but they do this for all sorts of events in France.

[00:11:12] So I’m sure they’ll do that as well for the Olympics.

[00:11:15] Patricia Perry: And, you know, what I would recommend for people who want to try and use the metro, or a bus, or the tramway is to definitely load one of the two apps, either Bonjour RATP which is the French app from the RATP service which you can get in English or CityMapper. And from both of those you can get, well if you have a If you have a data internet connection, you can get alerts of things that are going on.

[00:11:42] I sent Annie a link about ‘stay informed’ or something like that from the French government that’s going to have these things also, but it looked a lot more cumbersome and I didn’t see any English or any other language version.

[00:11:53] So I would, I would rely on the Bonjour RATP, or City Mapper because they’re really good about giving you alerts like Uhoh, you know, I mean, and right now what happens, a lot of times somebody will leave a package on, you know, Metro Line 14, so the flow will be slowed down. And you’ll see that on the line and on the app, so you’ll know, okay, that’s why it’s being delayed or whatever.

[00:12:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah, the apps are going to be essential.

[00:12:20] You can’t really on the announcements that are going to be made over the speakers because… that’s how it works. Even if you speak perfect French, you’re like, not sure what that was. So have an app that gives you live reports on what’s happening in real time because any other way is going to be just insane.

[00:12:47] So you need data. I always recommend people have a data plan when they visit France, anyway. But during the Olympics, I think it’s necessary.

[00:12:55] You’re not going to get around without, you know, you can’t pull out your paper tickets, and, you know…

[00:13:01] And also you avoid a lot of issues because if you have your metro tickets on your app, you know, people always run into problems where, like they say, oh, I lost my ticket, or, I can’t exit because of this or that.

[00:13:14] If it’s on your app, I mean, hopefully you’re not going to lose your phone. , Don’t lose your phone.

Don’t be an easy target for pick pockets

[00:13:18] Patricia Perry: Watch out for the pick pockets.

[00:13:19] Annie Sargent: Big zipped pocket. Zipped pockets.

[00:13:23] Yes.

[00:13:24] Patricia Perry: On the metro, they’re going to be plentiful. They’re going to have a large population to work.

[00:13:28] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yes. They’re going to have a lot of targets. Don’t be the easy one. Just make it as difficult as you can, zipping things up is usually sufficient, notwaving your phone around, like, you know, have earbuds, have your phone talk to you, like, I mean all the mapping systems can be audio. You can set them, you know, tell me, and then your phone is put away, and it’s telling you where to go instead of having to look at your phone, because when you look at your phone, you might get hit by a bike, you might trip on something. Just just keep it simple. Learn how to make the best use of your phone, is my recommendation.

[00:14:11] Patricia Perry: And you can use your phone to buy, you know, tickets for the Metro. Although I would recommend that you go ahead and get one of the two cards that I would recommend for this, like, there’s something called the Easy Pass, it costs 2 euros, and then you can load it with tickets.

[00:14:26] Annie Sargent: Navigo Easy, right?

[00:14:27] Patricia Perry: Navigo Easy.

[00:14:29] The only limitation on it is it will only take you within proper city Paris. Some of the venues, like La Défense, outside of Paris, you can get on the Metro, but when you try and exit, you’ll be locked because it’s outside of Zone 1 and 2, which are considered central Paris.

[00:14:46] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I wonder how they’re going to, if they’re going to change that.

[00:14:49] Patricia Perry: That’s going to be a zoo, they need to change it, you know, they really do.

[00:14:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah, they just need to, during the Olympics, make it all one zone.

[00:14:56] Patricia Perry: If you’re going to Versailles, you know, that’s like zone three.

[00:15:00] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah. Well, but again, the apps are your friends, so learn how to use the apps if you can. Because the app will hopefully warn you that you are going outside the zone, but they might make, they might simplify it. It would be nice if they simplified a few things, wouldn’t it?

[00:15:16] Patricia Perry: Yeah, it would be, but I’ve seen a lot of people get trapped.

[00:15:19] Annie Sargent: Yeah, people will get trapped.

Do not put your feet up on the seats in Metro or Bus

[00:15:20] Annie Sargent: Okay, another thing that’s really important is that if you’re in Paris in the metro, in the bus, do not put your feet on the seats, will get fined if you get caught. The end. There’s, you know, people are like, Oh, but I was so tired and the seats are gross anyway.

[00:15:38] Like, no, you will get fined, so don’t do it. This is important.

[00:15:44] Also, if it says that this is a one way, so if you have a sens interdit, how do you say that in English?

[00:15:51] Patricia Perry: One way.

[00:15:52] Annie Sargent: One way. Yes. So if you have a one thing in one of the tunnels of the metro, don’t take it, because if you do, you might get fined. Okay, you’re supposed to follow the flow of traffic.

[00:16:02] Patricia Perry: If you get lost, you know, that’s one thing but, you know, pay attention to the sign. The signage within the metro system is really pretty good, but you have to pay attention. You really do.

[00:16:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So I think we covered the transportation pretty well.

[00:16:19] Patricia Perry: I was going to talk about if you want to take a taxi or Uber, the Uber application does work here and for taxis I use G7.

[00:16:27] Once again, I think they’re going to be in the surface gridlock program, so you may not get there any faster, although you may be able to sit down for a long time if that’s what you want to do. I don’t think it’s going to be a good option.

[00:16:38] Annie Sargent: And taxis can use the bus lanes, Ubers cannot. Are they going to change that for the Olympics? I know not. They might, they might not. They will restrict a lot of, they don’t want the locals using their cars, so they are going to restrict the périphérique, which is the belt route to one lane of traffic for regular people.

[00:17:03] So there will be a lane for buses and taxis and things, and another one for VIPs. And there’s going to be perhaps another one for emergency vehicles or, you know, but there’s going to be heavy restrictions, and heavy enforcement, discouraging locals from using their cars during the Olympics, but some people will anyway.

[00:17:25] Patricia Perry: Oh, and just thinking back on the bike program, Paris is in the process of adding a significant number of more bike lanes, specifically to the Olympic venues, once again, to encourage people to use bikes. Although I will say in Paris, a bike lane could just be like a piece of little paint on the streets.

[00:17:43] It doesn’t make you feel really nice and cozy and safe, but that’s what it is. And in the worst case, they take a one way street, they paint a little lane going the opposite direction that’s supposedly for bikes, and I will never take those.

[00:17:59] Annie Sargent: Yeah, those are a bit, yeah, it can be hairy. I mean, if you’re used to riding a bike in a big city, yeah, perhaps it’s okay, but I only ever ride my bike in my country town and I don’t want to ride, I mean, I did ride a bike a little bit in Paris, but… hmm.

[00:18:17] Patricia Perry: You have to really pay attention.

[00:18:18] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s doable. We didn’t mention this, but there are also some private bike shops that do rentals.

[00:18:26] If you arrange a private bike rental ahead of time, that might be a good way to go, but you have to arrange it ahead of time, because I doubt you will be the only one wanting to rent a bike.

[00:18:38] Patricia Perry: I remember in Paris, there are some bike racks, but you can’t easily take bikes, the elevators are not designed for you to take bike up the stairs to your apartment or to your hotel, so it’ll be on the street, and if it’s a nice bike, things will get ripped off.

[00:18:52] Annie Sargent: Yes. Bikes get stolen all the time. Paris is infamous for this.

[00:18:58] Patricia Perry: One more thing on the metro, there, although I haven’t seen it and I’m pretty much a metro rat, they’re supposedly testing out theseinterpretation, you know, translation devices to give them to the metro workers to communicate better with people that don’t speak French. So I think this is going to be an interesting failure, but I can’t wait to see one

[00:19:18] and play with the guys.

[00:19:19] Annie Sargent: An interesting failure. You’re an optimist.

[00:19:24] Patricia Perry: Well, it’s going to be fun. I want to find somebody who has one and play with them.

[00:19:29] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. So you see if you can do a, I don’t know, English to Japanese, or French to Japanese, and see if they understand anything you say. That would be fun. Yeah.

[00:19:39] Patricia Perry: Annie and I say, get your apps and data, and that’ll save you as much as anything will.

[00:19:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Very interesting.

Accommodation and Weather Considerations

[00:19:49] Patricia Perry: I was going to talk about lodging, your Airbnb or private stuff, hotels, you know, they’re seeing a big tax increase, but anyway, you know, a lot of people think they can rent their personal apartment and make a killing during the Olympics. But to do this, here are the rules.

[00:20:03] You have to register with the City of Paris, get a registration number, you have to provide this registration number when you rent it, you have to be the owner of the apartment, or if you are a renter, you have to get the landlord’s specific written permission, and you cannot charge anybody who’s coming there more than you normally pay in rent.

[00:20:24] So what’s the point? You know?

[00:20:26] Annie Sargent: Yeah, nobody’s going to do it like on the up and up. When people do it, they’re going to do it however they want.

[00:20:32] Patricia Perry: If you don’t do this, the individual’s in theory is subject to a 75.000 euro fine, and or five years in prison. But the issue is they really haven’t anybody to enforce all this stuff.

[00:20:45] Annie Sargent: No, I doubt they will enforce any of it. Honestly.

[00:20:49] Patricia Perry: And we’ll talk about air conditioning too. Now, most of the hotels, the nicer hotels will have air conditioning, but be sure you ask because it’s not always true to the smaller hotels. And most private residences in Paris do not have air conditioning. They might have a portable unit you can pull into a bedroom, you know, that cools somewhat, but over 90 percent of residents do not have air conditioning in Paris.

[00:21:13] So, we’ll talk about the weather.

[00:21:14] Annie Sargent: Well, that’s a big one because in August, you know, late July, early August, it is possible to have very, very hot weather in Paris.

[00:21:25] Patricia Perry: It is, it is. Just thinking about that, they built the Olympic Village purposefully without air conditioning, to remain ecologically sensitive. And I think the record in July is, oh, something like 104 degrees Centigrade, I mean, no, Fahrenheit, like 42 Centigrade. And the design of the Olympic Village is such that they should be six degrees centigrade cooler than the outside temperature. But if it’s 42 degrees outside, six degrees cooler does not get you very far in terms of comfort.

[00:21:59] So now there’s, you know, riffraff going around like, oh, they’re all going to bring in their portable air conditioners and, you know, so… it remains to be seen how that’s going to work out.

[00:22:09] Annie Sargent: So yes, they went for a geothermalsolution that’s better than nothing.

[00:22:15] Patricia Perry: And shades, and blinds, and ventilation.

[00:22:20] Annie Sargent: But it is notsuper comfortable by American standards, let’s put it that way. For French people, I think it’ll be fine. For many Europeans who are not used to air conditioning, I think it’ll be fine. But for Americans who are used to air conditioning and are used to needing to put on a jacket as soon as you’re indoors, because so freaking cold inside when it’s boiling outside, they are not going to like this. They are going to think this is not okay, and I’d be one of them, I mean, honestly, I’m French, but I have had AC at home.

[00:23:00] Patricia Perry: We live in the south, also.

[00:23:02] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I live in the south, I have an apartment in Spain, I’m sorry, I am not boiling every summer, because it’s every single summer for several weeks, you know, that you’re dying.

[00:23:12] Patricia Perry: Yeah.

Ice and Dining in Paris

[00:23:13] Patricia Perry: It was very hot last summer. I mean, it wasn’t 42, but it was, you know, 38, 39. Not pleasant. So bring your summer clothes, like a hat, your sunglasses, water, maybe spray, spritz yourself. Do not expect to find ice in Paris. If you ask for a drink with ice, you get one or two little ice cubes and that’s normal.

[00:23:33] They don’t have big ice machines.

[00:23:34] Annie Sargent: So, I heard an interview with the person, the ice maker, who is in charge for the athletes.

[00:23:43] Patricia Perry: Okay.

[00:23:44] Annie Sargent: And he is a French guy who has been briefed about the fact that Americans like a lot of ice, and he was sounding like he was going to try.

[00:23:55] Patricia Perry: The only place I know where you can get a lot of ice, I think, is the McDonald’s. I think you can get a lot of ice in the drinks there. I don’t go there, so I can’t…

[00:24:03] Annie Sargent: They have ice machines. Most French restaurants will have a few ice trays in their freezer.

[00:24:10] Patricia Perry: And stuff like iced coffee and iced tea, it comes in a can, you know, and it’s just a refrigerator temperature.

[00:24:16] Annie Sargent: That’s true, it comes out of the fridge, but it’s not iced. It’s cooled.

[00:24:21] Patricia Perry: Unless you’re at a coffee specialty shop, you are not going to find iced coffee, or ice tea, doesn’t exist, so just reset your standards, what you’re going to chill out with.

[00:24:31] Annie Sargent: But you will eat very well in Paris. I’m sure the restaurants are going to be very busy, but…

[00:24:36] Patricia Perry: Absolutely.

[00:24:37] Annie Sargent: …will probably eat well, you know.

Restaurant Reservations and Apps

[00:24:39] Annie Sargent: If you are absolutely bent over, I should say it’s hell bent, isn’t it? Maybe that’s not a good expression.

[00:24:46] Patricia Perry: To have ice? Hell bent for ice?

[00:24:50] Annie Sargent: Yeah, no, for a specific restaurant.

[00:24:53] Patricia Perry: Oh, reserve. Reserve. Reserve. Yeah.

[00:24:56] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:24:56] I do itineraries with people every day, and I know some people just get obsessed with, you know, they must have a reservation for every night of the week, and if you’re like that, reserve ahead of time, well ahead of time.

[00:25:08] As soon as they will take your reservation, really, which will depend on the restaurant.

[00:25:14] So that’s some research that you’re going to have to do or go back to that restaurant. There are two apps you can use in Paris to reserve restaurants, La Fourchette or The Fork is one, or Zen App is another one for the little better restaurants, typically.

[00:25:31] Patricia Perry: So, yeah, if you want to go a certain place during the Olympics, you better reserve as soon as you can.

[00:25:36] Annie Sargent: Yes, but for people who don’t care, you will find food, lots of, there’s restaurants everywhere in Paris. It’s really not difficult to eat. And most of them will serve extended hours compared to the rest of France. You know, I mean, in the south of France, it’s 1:30 PM and the chef is going home and you haven’t eaten yet.

[00:25:58] Well, too bad, so sad. But in Paris, you can show up till. You know, 2:30, 3:30, nobody’s going to bat an eye, they will feed you, probably, probably.

[00:26:09] Patricia Perry: I think, you know, the places right around the Olympics will probably be a little bit smashed and overcrowded. And I don’t really know what they’re going to serve for food in the venues. That’s another thing I haven’t heard about. They’ve got to feed the people something.

[00:26:21] Annie Sargent: Escargot. That would be funny.

[00:26:23] Patricia Perry: Get your little fork and.

[00:26:25] Annie Sargent: Frog’s legs. That would be funny. I have no idea what they’re going to serve, but something, they’ll find something. Yeah, they’ll find something.

Security Measures and Alerts

[00:26:32] Patricia Perry: Oh, just back on security. I read about, they’re testing this new emergency, national emergency alert system, but they’re testing it here in Paris. It’s also over mobile phones and you get this, you know, beep, beep, beep over your phone when they’re, I’m supposed to get it, like get one this week.

[00:26:45] They’re testing 15th Arrondissement where I live. They just started testing this thing. So I’m sure this is associated with the Olympics too.

[00:26:52] You know, if they have a security event or something like that, they can like send out this alert, and it’s not an app you load on your phone, you just get it if you’re in the geographical area.

[00:27:02] I’ll be interested to see how it works. I’ll know later this week.

[00:27:05] Did it work or, and does it work on anybody’s phone or?

[00:27:09] I don’t know.

[00:27:10] Annie Sargent: Yeah, you have to be a resident of this area to get the (emergency alert sounds)

[00:27:13] Patricia Perry: Yeah, yeah, like we all need more notifications on our phone.

[00:27:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s what we need.

Lodging and Payment Methods

[00:27:18] Annie Sargent: All right. So lodging, we mentioned prices that are going to be high. I think the average price is not, I mean, you’re not going to find anything under a thousand a night, I don’t think. If you haven’t booked it already.

[00:27:29] Patricia Perry: But pay the premium to be close to where you’re going. So if you want to pay a premium, it’s not for, you know, the nice sheets or, you know, or that kind of, pay it for location.

[00:27:40] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yes. Yes. And I don’t know how much is still available as far as lodgings for Paris. I know I’m going to the Paralympics and I’ve already reserved my little studio,because I don’t want to, you know, be messing with that as we get closer. So I think if you haven’t reserved, you need to get on with it immediately.

[00:28:03] Shall we talk about money a little bit? You have something about Visa MasterCard with touch?

[00:28:09] Patricia Perry: Yeah, definitely.

[00:28:11] Annie Sargent: You need to set up, you need to have a contactless card, and if you don’t use Apple Pay or Google Pay, try it.

[00:28:19] Patricia Perry: On your phone and on a watch.

[00:28:21] Annie Sargent: On your watch, try it at home, and it works exactly the same in France.

[00:28:26] This avoids the need for a PIN. So, because there’s an extra layer of security on your phone, you have to log into your phone with your face or with your thumb or something. And so,they trust transactions that come from a phone or a watch, better than they do just somebody that has a physical card.

[00:28:48] Just try it at home, it’s really not rocket science and it works very, very well. Start doing your payments contactless with your phone or your smartwatch.

[00:28:58] Patricia Perry: Yeah, and pretty much in Paris, everybody takes, you know, contactless payment. A few places will say a minimum of 5 euros, but more and more, they don’t care. They don’t want to deal with the money themselves. And you could use it in tiny shops, big places. Yeah, it’s a way to go.

Opening Ceremony and Strikes

[00:29:15] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about the opening ceremony.

[00:29:17] Patricia Perry: Yeah, it’s something in flux, also. It was originally scheduled to have 600.000 spectators. They sold 100.000 ticketed seats, you know, that are down along the bridges and the lower levels of the Seine. And then there were supposed to be, you know, all these additional spaces for the little people up above, like me. And now they’ve reduced the attendance numbers from 600.000 to 300.000 for security reasons, and I keep asking about these 200.000 quotes, you know, tickets for a free place, and everybody says, we don’t have any information yet.

[00:29:51] It will be released eventually.

[00:29:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And when they are released, they’ll be gone in half a second.

[00:29:57] Patricia Perry: Exactly. That’s why I want to like, well, tell me when are you going to talk about releasing these tickets? No, no, no info on that. But it really, really cool, and I think this is a really big benefit to Paris, they’re going to have some event, you know, they’ll have this opening ceremony on the Seine.

[00:30:11] And the guy who’s doing the design, Tommy, come Tommy, Tommy something. He’s a guy that, anyway, he’s a theatrical lighting designer and there’s going to be lasers and holograms and floating things. It’s going to be fantastic.

[00:30:27] Annie Sargent: They’re probably going to have drone shows, drone

[00:30:30] light shows. Yeah.

[00:30:31] Patricia Perry: Probably.He has no opportunity to rehearse this ever before. Can you imagine the kind of stress he’s under to get this right?

[00:30:39] The name of the guy is Thomas Jolly. He did the Starmania stuff. And so he’s done a lot of theatrical things.

[00:30:44] Annie Sargent: I love Starmania. I’m going to try and get tickets. When I’m in Paris, I would love to take you.

[00:30:49] Patricia Perry: It’s gone. Sorry. Anyway… but big cry. They’re going to have 80 giant screens, you know, outdoors for people to watch the opening ceremonies, and I think they’re going to have that for a lot of things, you know, like at each arrondissement, you know, have a venue where they have big screen and…

[00:31:07] Annie Sargent: This is huge in France, there are fan zones, they want people to be able to participate without spending a fortune. So there will be screens, there will be areas that you can go to to see things. Perhaps not the banks of the river, because that’s going to be limited access, but there will be places where you can go and, I think that’s a great thing.

[00:31:33] Patricia Perry: I think that’ll be a lot of fun.

[00:31:34] Annie Sargent: And in those fan zones, you know, you always have the people who are loud and drunk, but for the most part it’s happy-go-lucky, like, you know, it’s fun.

[00:31:43] Patricia Perry: And the other thing about the Seine, you know, is, besides being opening ceremony, they’re really cleaning it up. They’re going to, it should be swimmable, they’re going to have the swimming part of the marathon, which is 10 kilometers in the Seine. And they’re continuously monitoring the bacterial count these days.

[00:31:59] I actually went on a, I went to the sewer tour, you know, and I could see where they were monitoring stuff and it’s really cool. They’re just finishing, they’re not quite done yet, putting in this, what is it? It’s a 50.000 meter cubed reservoir near the Austerlitz train station.

[00:32:16] Which will be when there’s a lot of rain, what happens is the, it’s too much for the sewage system, so some of the sewage, you know, gets into that overflow system. So rather than going directly into the Seine, as it has been doing, it will go into this giant reservoir. And then in addition to the reservoir, they have a treatment facility there.

[00:32:34] So it’ll be held in the reservoir and treated and then put back in the Seine.

[00:32:38] Annie Sargent: Very cool. Very cool.

[00:32:40] Patricia Perry: Big, big benefit, I think for everybody.

[00:32:42] Annie Sargent: And this will keep on being a benefit forever. Like, you know, this is something that not that long ago, I mean, in the 1800s, people swam in the Seine. It was normal.

[00:32:52] Patricia Perry: There’s pictures. I mean, there’s actually a couple of pools that are in the Seine right now, though Josephine Baker Pool actually takes water from the Seine and filters it and uses it for the swimming pool there. And then there’s a barge near me that uses, you know, cooling and stuff from the Seine.

[00:33:07] So there’s a lot of possibilities.

[00:33:10] Annie Sargent: Very nice. And also, we should mention that the bouquinistes are not going to have to move after all.

[00:33:16] Patricia Perry: They weren’t going to anyway.

[00:33:18] Annie Sargent: Tempest in a teapot,but yes, I just felt like, look, if they have to move, they have to move. All these businesses look a little shady to me. I know, they are, you know, romantic and lovely and very Paris and all of that.

[00:33:34] Patricia Perry: Well, here’s the latest thing I’ve heard. They’re asking you, of course, not to go to work, you know, if you live in Paris, you know, just hunker down at home, and not have any packages delivered.

[00:33:43] Annie Sargent: Oh!

[00:33:44] Patricia Perry: Like, good luck with that one, boys and girls.

[00:33:46] Annie Sargent: Yeah, like, so, no more Amazon for you.

[00:33:49] Patricia Perry: No more Amazon in Paris. No. And then Annie, I will let you comment on this one, of course, this is, you know, strikes both from the police and the metro RATP workers. They’re both already threatening to strike. This would be total chaos.

[00:34:06] Annie Sargent: So there is something that you have to do when you are going to strike, you have to announce that you intend to strike, and that’s called a préavis de grève, which means an announcement of a strike. Well, what do you know? The RATP has already announced that a préavis de grève between like, it was February 5th or something and way after the end of the Olympics.

[00:34:32] This means that from one day to the next they could strike without any further ado. And so, this last weekend, there was a strike of the SNCF, and I should remind you that, in my opinion, it’s always the same people that strike, the SNCF and the RATP,and they have some of the most protected jobsin the country, but they are always on strike because every time they strike, they get a check at the end.

[00:35:02] And this is the worstway to, imagine if your kid was misbehaving and to punish them, you give them a good talking to, but to get them to stop doing whatever they were doing, you give them nice, I don’t know, whatever they want. Do you think that would work?

[00:35:17] Doesn’t work with dogs, I know that for sure. You know, if the dog does something bad, you do not give them a reward. This is not the time. Anyway, and so in my opinion, every time they strike, they get a reward at the end because they get a check. So they stop striking. Okay. So this is, this whole situation is terrible and it is a right written in the French Constitution.

[00:35:38] I’m not saying that we should not have the right to strike, that would be awful. But what they need to do is do a time and place kind of thing. And they are actually talking about it. And I think there’s a centrist parliamentarian that has presented a text, a law, because in France, it’s either the Senate, the Parliament, or the President that can propose a law, and because it wasn’t the President that presented this law, it has a bit of a chance. And this is a law that would actually force them to not strike between specific dates. So like, stop striking every time there’s a school vacation. Stop striking every time there’s a big event, that sort of thing. The rest of the time you can strike.

[00:36:24] Patricia Perry: Yeah, and I’ll let you comment on this too, but those two months, July and August, when the Olympics are, are the traditional vacation time for most French people, and many Europeans. And, you know, like, most of the times Paris looks like a nuclear war zone, you know, in August, in residential neighborhoods where I live, like, where is everybody?

[00:36:45] Things will be closed, you’ll call some place, nobody will answer, you know.

[00:36:49] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it’s very dead.

[00:36:51] Patricia Perry: Don’t have a plumbing emergency during that time period.

[00:36:55] Annie Sargent: It’s very dead compared to the rest of the year.

[00:36:58] Patricia Perry:

[00:36:58] Annie Sargent: But it’s still plenty happening.

[00:37:00] Patricia Perry: But it’s a lot of people be on vacation. So just remember that.

[00:37:04] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I’m not sure what, you know, I haven’t asked my family members, but none of them work in service jobs, and I think they just plan on going on with their lives, like take a vacation like normal. I think.

[00:37:18] Patricia Perry: Yeah. Oh, and the the last thing people may wonder what the hell this Olympic mascot is that looks really weird, and I think is very strange looking for anybody who’s not French and it’s this kind of a red looking triangle, which is actually a hat called a Phryges or something like that.

[00:37:37] Annie Sargent: Bonnet Phrygien.

[00:37:39] Patricia Perry: Okay, Bonnet Phrygien..

[00:37:40] Annie Sargent: Phryges, des Phrygien.

[00:37:43] Patricia Perry: It has an easy name to say, Bout.

[00:37:45] Annie Sargent: Yes, fantastic, yes.

[00:37:48] Patricia Perry: So, if you think this is not a Disneyland character, it’s not.

[00:37:53] Annie Sargent: No, it’s a kind of a odd little, but that’s what they picked. But it comes from the Revolution.

[00:38:02] Patricia Perry: Yeah.

[00:38:02] Annie Sargent: The Bonnet Phrygien is a nod to the French Revolution. Okay. Nice.

[00:38:08] Patricia Perry: If that’s the history and the weird little red thing, you know, that’s the mascot.

[00:38:11] Annie Sargent: Yes. I don’t really have anything to say about that. I don’t think Olympic mascots do much for me most time.

[00:38:17] Patricia Perry: If you want Olympic merchandise, I would recommend, you know, if when you’re here getting it from Decathlon, or you could order it online from them, maybe when you’re here too, I don’t know. But they have the best prices. They’re a lot less than a lot of the official Olympic stores where you can pay 80 euros for a T-shirt.

[00:38:34] You can get one at Decathlon for 20, which is still slightly overpriced for a T-shirt, but much more reasonable.

[00:38:40] Annie Sargent: All right, we better call it good, thank you so much for this update. This has been very enlightening. I hope people who listen to this just understand that the Olympics is going to create a lot of difficult situations. I’m not saying you should go to Paris during the Olympics, but you should be prepared for things being different than normal.

[00:39:00] Patricia Perry: Yeah, it’s going to be crazy good and crazy bad in different ways, so…

[00:39:05] Annie Sargent: Merci beaucoup, Patricia.

[00:39:07] Patricia Perry: Au revoir. Ciao.

[00:39:08] Annie Sargent: Au revoir.


Thank you, Patrons!

[00:39:15] 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

[00:39:30] Thank you all for supporting this show. Some of you have been doing it for many years, you are wonderful!

[00:39:35] And a shout out this week to new patrons: Ellen Snoyenbos, Katie and Lori Bogie, Vira Lapano, and Lori. Wonderful to have you on board in the community of Francophiles who keep this podcast going.

[00:39:51] To join them, go to and to support Elyse go to And when you do, please don’t click on the join for free thingy, because if you do, it won’t help you or me. Instead, choose your membership level. For $5 a month or $50 per year, you get a monthly Zoom, extra French history content, the occasional French recipe, a monthly casual convo between Élyse and I, etc.

[00:40:28] I’m always adding stuff that I find interesting and I make them for my patrons. Join for free gets you nothing. And it gets me nothing either. So don’t do it please.

[00:40:40] This week I published my monthly casual convo with Elyse and I’ll share photos of my new kitchen in Spain, as well.

[00:40:47] It’s not quite finished and it’s not worthy of the Architectural Digest, but hey, I’ve been talking about this for a few months, patrons will get to see what it looks like.

Plan a trip to France with Annie

[00:40:57] Annie Sargent: If you’re planning a trip to France and have questions that didn’t get answered in an episode of the podcast, you can hire me to be your itinerary consultant.

[00:41:06] I offer two levels of itinerary consultations, the Bonjour service, where I answer all your questions and share my tips and, you know, guide you in the right direction.

[00:41:17] And the VIP where I also answer your questions, share my tips, put you in the right direction, but in the end you get a day by day recommendation, and it’s all in writing.

[00:41:30] If you don’t need a one on one consultation, it’s just fine. You can still take me in your pocket with my self-guided GPS tours on the VoiceMap app. And for most people, that’s all they need. Go to one neighborhood of Paris for the whole day, walk my tour, stop at the churches, the restaurants, the museum that I recommend, and you’ll have a fantastic time.

[00:41:53] VoiceMap tours are an amazing value for the price, they work all the time, Olympics or no Olympics, strike or no strike, day or night, although it is better to take them when things are open. You can get one tour for two people, use one earbud each, and you’re good to go. I will say that they’re a bit too serious for children under 12, I think. But the parents can listen, lead the way, like they know Paris, like it’s the back of their hands, because I’m telling, I’m in their ear, telling them what to do, and where to go, and tell the kids whatever that, you know, will catch their interest. As always, to get any of my tours or services, visit and go to the boutique tab or do forward slash boutique.

Personal Update: Unscheduled trip to Spain

[00:42:41] Annie Sargent: Let’s do a quick personal update. I had to take an unscheduled trip to my apartment in Spain this week. On Monday, I got a message from the countertop company asking if they could do the install on Wednesday. I said, all right, but I’ll be making the drive just for you.

[00:42:57] And I have to be home on Friday. So don’t change your mind. She assured me that Wednesday was solid. So before I went to bed, I asked for one more reassuring, explaining again, that it’s a long drive, you know, it’s a long way to go.

[00:43:13] I went to bed Monday night thinking, there’s no way they’re going to give me a firm commitment because it’s a construction company, they don’t do that, you know.

[00:43:22] Tuesday morning, I wake up and I read a detailed message from the countertop company that convinced me that they were serious. So, I’m in Spain today, and they showed up, and the countertop looks great.

[00:43:36] There’s always little details to finish, I wonder if I’ll ever think it’s completely finished, but, I mean, there’s major things, like, you know, a faucet, and things like that.

Driving to Spain in an electric car

[00:43:46] Annie Sargent: There are folks who worry about having an electric car, and they think, Oh, what if I need to take off in a hurry? Well, I woke up Tuesday morning, decided to make the 300 mile drive, and I was at 77 percent state of charge, which gives me more or less 150 miles at freeway speeds with my car.

[00:44:07] And then when I got to the Toulouse Belt Route, I saw on the overhead panels, which you should always pay attention to, that they had blocked off the freeway in the direction of Barcelona, after Narbonne. So I found the freeway radio station and the announcer explained that Spanish farmers were blocking the freeway between the French border and Barcelona, and that no cars were allowed through.

[00:44:32] Trucks could get through knowing that they’d be blocked for hours, perhaps days, and actually they haven’t lifted, it’s been several days, they haven’t lifted it yet. So I feel for the truckers if they are stuck in this mess. But they didn’t want to take chances with families traveling, getting stuck like that.

[00:44:52] So they just closed it off to cars, which is a good way to handle things. Now, I was planning to drive along the coast between Toulouse and Barcelona and then go a little further south than Barcelona.

[00:45:04] I didn’t want to take the mountain pass to avoid frozen roads, and snow, and things, but since they had closed the freeway, that wasn’t an option anymore.

[00:45:13] So I checked the weather. It said some snow right at the border, but it didn’t look too bad. And I lived in Utah for 16 years, a little snow doesn’t scare me that much. So I changed my route to go over the mountain. I stopped 90 minutes later at a Ionity charging station located at a Super U grocery store.

[00:45:33] We have a lot of charging stations at grocery stores in France. Just like we have a lot of gas stations, honestly. I got some breakfast and snacks while the car charged. Two hours later, I stopped again at another Ionity station that just opened by the Tunnel del Cadí in Spain. That’s a nice long tunnel that saves you a lot of mountain driving.

[00:45:55] And I had some lunch there, and by the way, there was quite a bit of snow falling when I entered a tunnel before the Tunnel del Cadi, it’s called the Puymorens Tunnel. On that side, on the French side, it was a lot of snow and it was sticking and all of that. When I exited on the other side of the tunnel, there was hardly any snow.

[00:46:17] The Spanish side gets all the sun and the good weather. It was like a miracle.


[00:46:22] Annie Sargent: The point I’m trying to make is, when the charging infrastructure is as good as it is in France, and in other European countries, we don’t have to worry about charging to the max the night before a trip.

[00:46:35] You can just stay at your, you know, your normal level of charge, and if you have to go somewhere, get some breakfast on the way and you’re fine. It’s really not all that different from petroleum cars that I’ve driven, but it does take a little bit longer than gassing up, you know, but

[00:46:52] I don’t care about that honestly, I’ve gotten used to the longer stops and it’s just fine.

Navigo Pass

[00:46:57] Annie Sargent: All right, the magazine part of the podcast, let’s talk about the Navigo, and the transportation prices in Paris. People take 6 million trips on the Paris Metro and the bus system each month. With the Olympics, it’ll go up to 10 million.

[00:47:14] That’s not quite twice as much, but it’s a lot more. So they are improving the infrastructure, they are adding buses and metros, and I think they’re adding a tram as well.

[00:47:25] And of course, this is all going to cost a lot of money, and visitors will pay for most of that. How? Well, you won’t be able to buy the weekly or daily passes on the Paris Metro between July 20th and September 8th. They will not sell Navigo Découverte during that time, and you will not be able to buy, now, people who reside in Paris will be able to buy the monthly pass with their Android phone, but they won’t sell the daily or weekly passes, even if you have the card.

[00:48:02] Okay, it’s not about the card, it’s about selling you the pass, the weekly and the daily will not be on sale.

[00:48:10] That will force visitors to buy the higher priced tickets and they will cost 4 Euros a piece. If you have a Navigo EasyCard, that’s the card that you can recharge with however many number of T tickets that you would like, and you are in Paris before July 20th, you can get up to 30 tickets at the regular price per card. And that’s a lot more than enough for most people like me.

[00:48:41] So I’ll be in Paris in the next week, I’ll just load up my cards and then I’ll get them at the lower price and they’ll work the same they’ve always worked. But if you’re just coming for the Olympics, you’ll have to buy the T tickets at a higher price. Or you could get a ticket from a specific place to another specific place where the price will vary depending on how far you go.


[00:49:08] Annie Sargent: So if you’re in Paris before July 20th, get a Navigo Easy card and buy as many tickets as you think you’ll need through the Olympics. That way you get the normal price. I have been telling people to go with Navigo Easy cards for a long time. The Navigo Découverte is fine if you’ve done it before and you like it, that’s fine, but I find Navigo Easy to be plenty cheap for most people.

[00:49:37] For people who are just there during the Olympics, the tickets will double in price. So right now we pay about 2 Euros for tickets, it will be 4 Euros at full Olympics price. But you know what, I think in London you already pay £4 all the time for a single ticket.

[00:49:54] So, you know, it seems like a good way to raise money for the metro system without impacting locals too much. And in the show notes, I’ll link to an article in English about this and to the official page from the RATP, that’s the Paris Metro people, that’ll be in French for those of you who want to know all the details.

[00:50:17] My thanks to podcast editors, Anne and Cristian Cotovan, who produce the transcripts and make the podcast sound good.

Next week on the podcast

[00:50:24] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode about the Lot Department with Elyse. The Lot is a beautiful place, Rocamadour, Le Gouffre de Padirac. What else? Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is there.

[00:50:37] It’s a beautiful, beautiful part of the country. It’s in the Southwest of France. I’m going to Paris, for a couple of weeks, working on my new self-guided food tour of Paris on the VoiceMap app. And so I’ll publish an episode every Sunday, but there won’t be personal updates until I return. Yeah. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.

[00:51:02] Au revoir.



[00:51:04] 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.

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Category: Paris