Don’t be afraid to speak French…even if you don’t really know the language.

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Street Market in Paris

 

It’s easy to get the feeling that you know the language just because when you order a beer, they don’t bring you oysters.” Paul Child (Julia Child’s husband) from “My Life In France”

There is one thing that seems to scare visitors to Paris…trying to speak the language. But, put your mind at ease, most Parisians can speak English and many even want to practice their own English speaking skills. However, always remember you are in THEIR country and should at least attempt to speak their language. The minute you try to speak French, they will pretty much start speaking English to you and will greatly appreciate your effort.

Here are a few words and phrases to use:

Hello: Bonjour (bohn-ZHOOR)
Goodbye: Au revoir (oh ruh-VWAHR)
Please: s’il vous plait (seel voo PLEH))
Thank you: Merci (mair-SEE)
I would like…: Je voudrais (zhuh voo-DREH)
Yes: Oui (wee)
No: Non (nohn)
Stop: Arrêtez (ah-reh-TAY)
Do you speak English: Parlez-vous Anglais? (par-lay VOO ahng-LEH?)
•When entering a store, always say “Bonjour Madame/Monsieur.”
And when leaving always say “Au revoir.”

So don’t be afraid to try speaking French, the French will love you for it!

Bises (kisses),
Kimberly

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Travel tip: Save Money When Ordering Water

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Une carafe d’eau on the table.

Whether you are people watching at an outdoor cafe or dining in a restaurant, an easy way to save a few euros at each meal is to ask for “une carafe d’eau” (OON cahr-AHF doh)…adding s’il vous plait at the end, of course. Basically, you are requesting a carafe or pitcher of tap water for the table. The tap water in Paris is safe and unless you just don’t like the taste of it or prefer carbonated water, there is no reason to order bottle water.

This simple tip will save you money during your trip without sacrificing any of the experience. It’s a win-win!

 

Bises (kisses),

Kimberly

The Paris Pass…oui or non?

Eiffel Tower from the Place de la Concorde

Eiffel Tower from the Place de la Concorde

I was asked earlier this week if the Paris Pass was a good value. I thought it was an excellent question and worth sharing on the blog. My opinion on the value of the Paris Pass is…it all depends.

 

Using passbooks, coupons, even Groupon deals when traveling is a great idea but sometimes you need to see if what you are buying is worth what you will get out of it. The Paris Pass is sight-seeing package with several features including access to major sites and museums, a wine tasting, a bus tour and a travel pass to use on local transportation.

 

When deciding if the Paris Pass will work for you, consider the following:

 

First,  determine how many days you will be using it and how many places included in the pass you will be visiting. The Paris Pass has to be used in consecutive days but there are 3 options of length available.

 

Start by making a  list of the places you want to see and activities you want to do. Do this first and then compare to what is included in the pass.

 

Next, calculate all the entrance fees and activity prices as if you were paying them straight out. Since the Paris Pass includes a travel card, calculate how much you may spend on public transportation. It also has other activities like a hop on/hop off bus tour, a river cruise and a wine tasting so include the cost of those activities if it is something already on your list.

 

Take that total you calculated from above and compare to the cost of the pass. If the pass is cheaper, then right away it is a great value. If it is the same, then you might as well purchase it because you are not out any money, you can use the fast track options even it if is only for one museum and it gives you options to other sites and activities if your itinerary changes.

 

If the pass is more expensive, the next thing to consider is the other advantage of the Paris Pass which is the fast track queuing option. It is limited to a selection of museums however. If you are going to many of the museums on the fast track list, it might be worth the time saved even if not in the cost.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is what you get with the entrance pass. For example, Notre Dame Cathedral  is free to visit. The pass is for the Towers which does have an entrance fee.

Even though the pass offers free entry to 60 places, you are actually buying the pass to get those free entries so a little work upfront will let you determine if the Paris Pass is a good value for you.

Bises (kisses),
Kimberly

Travel Tip: Take Pictures of Street Signs

Photographing street signs is one of my favorite travel tips.
It serves several purposes not only while you are on your trip but also after you return.

Take a photograph of the street where you are staying.

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Paris Street Sign

Before you head out to explore, snap a quick pic of where you are staying. It will be helpful in remembering the street until you become familiar with your area. Also, if you can’t speak the language well, you can show the picture of the street you are trying to find.

When you return from your trip, you have it as a record of where you stayed.

 

Take a photograph of places you want to go back to visit.

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Champs Elysees Street Sign

Sometimes your itinerary doesn’t allow for an immediate departure of plans but take a photograph of the street sign where that restaurant or store you want to come back to visit is.

When you return from your trip, you then have it as a reminder to share with others of that must dine at restaurant or must visit store.

 

Take a photograph as a souvenir.

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Direction signs

Street signs around the world are very different so why not take a picture of them as a quick, easy and inexpensive souvenir.

When you return and share your stories, you have a unique memento to share of how lovely, confusing, large, small the street signs were.

Bises (kisses),
Kimberly

Exploring Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame may not be one of the wonders of the world but it should be! Every inch is covered with something amazing to see. Like most of Paris, it is dripping with history and the cathedral is a great example of Gothic architecture.

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Side view of Notre Dame

Here are some highlights to check out on your visit:

The outside:

Outside the Western side,  you will find a marker on the ground marking point zero. This is from where all points of Paris are marked.

On the Western side of the building, there are three doorway entries into the Cathedral (Portal of The Virgin, Portal of the Last Judgement, Portal of St. Anne) which are the main entrances into the Cathedral; the West rose window with Mary holding baby Jesus flanked by two angels in the middle; and the row of the Kings of Judah lined up right above the doorways.

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Notre Dame

The South side shows clearly the famous flying buttresses used to distribute the heavy weight of the walls and serve as rain spouts.

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The flying buttresses of Notre Dame

Behind the Eastern side of the Cathedral is a Holocaust Memorial. It is not connected with the Cathedral but it is good to know it is there so you don’t miss it.

The North side is where to go if you would like to venture up the steps to see the Bell Tower and the Gargoyles overlooking the city. A fee is associated with this tour.

 

The inside:

Along the perimeter aisles are individual worship alcoves with stunning statues and frescoes.

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Worship alcove (slightly blurry due to low light)

Down the center of the Cathedral is the corporate worship area. If you get a chance to participate in Mass, do it. Quite an experience.

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Worship area in the center of Notre Dame.

The Eastern end is the Nave and the Western end houses the organ.

Entry into the Cathedral is FREE but there are donation receptacles throughout the Cathedral. A fee is required to take the tour to the Bell Tower and see the Gargoyles.

Notre Dame is one of the top iconic landmarks of Paris and definitely worth adding to your itinerary.

Bises (kisses),

Kimberly