Where are all the rude Parisians? Do you speak Tourist? Is a movement in Paris started in 2012 to try to improve customer relations with visitors to the metropolitan city of Paris. The creators have analysed who comes to Paris and what they expect when they are there. Through the website, business owners can have a better understanding of what good customer relations mean. And it must be working, because we didn’t meet any rude people on our long weekend in Paris. I am not sure if it was the sun that weekend or that perhaps the rude Parisian stereotype is slowly changing.
Our long weekend started off by dropping the kids off at Beatrice and Christopher’s place on Thursday night, and first thing Friday morning we left for Paris on the morning train to arrive no later than noon.
We packed light, one backpack each and from the train station we went straight towards the city centre. Along the Seine River was a market with all regional Languedoc products which made us laugh, of course we didn’t come to Paris to eat local Capestang products. A little band played, and the ambience was festive, we quickly moved along.
We continued towards the Love Lock Bridge, then to Notre Dame where we took a few photos. We searched for a Starbucks where Alfonz and I changed into lighter clothes. It was hot out and we needed to strip down. My coffee was not as good as my memory of Starbucks back home in Canada, even if I got to eat a cranberry scone. And the price, was outrageously expensive.
We continued on our merry way, down Champs Elysees, to the Arch de Triomphe where for 20€ we went to the top in under 30 minutes, making this the most efficient line-up in all of France. And cheap too!
Then we walked to the Eiffel Tower. We stopped many time for 10€ beers, a high price but c’est la vie, after all we are in Paris!! We were like two kids, backpackers on foot, excitedly tripping along the street of Paris. We saw some interested decked out people wearing the most fashionable clothes who had some very interesting plastic surgery. Asian women with giant insect like eyes, pulled back skin that looked like plastic and man with feline features. I saw an Arab woman with her husband wearing a gold laced sari and her make-up was way over the top with huge draw in eyebrows. Her husband rushed after her as though she was royalty. I bet she spent the whole morning getting ready to shop Champs Elysees. Alfonz and I brushed past them and continued.
When we arrived at the Concord Roundabout we saw a yellow Lamborghini and a Ferrari with a 89€ rental signs. Being our wedding anniversary we thought, let us tick Ferrari off our bucket list! Alfonz was like a kid in a candy store, which should I pick? In the end he picked the red Ferrari but only because for an extra 29€ I could come along. I filmed from the back seat as Alfonz took us around Paris for a total of 30 minutes. The coolest part was everyone waving to us as if we were celebrities. At one point Alfonz had it wide open through a tunnel, the loud roar was amazing and the chaperone said. ‘Oh my god, please slow down, this is where Lady Diana died!’ It was pretty exciting being the passenger. By the look on Alfonz’s face, it was even better being the driver!
Famished, we found a little pub. Les Tonton with good reviews on Tripadvisor where we had some nice looking burgers. It was off the beaten track with good service and a very nice Belgian waitress.
From here we decided to get to our hotel, after all we were here for a seminar all day Saturday and we should probably get some rest. We met up with our EFS group having dinner in a little Indian restaurant behind the IBIS hotel on the outskirt of town. We were so excited about our first day in Paris, we entered like a whirlwind of energy.
The next day we spent the day with English for Success learning how to be better teachers and how to deal with issues that may arise when having adolescence in your home. As soon as it was finished, we hit the ground running. It started to rain, so we turned around and changed our clothes. Again, we went straight to the neighbourhood we liked the most Saint Germaine, and we found a little restaurant just opening for dinner. We checked the reviews, and asked if by chance they have a table for us. They said, yes, in one hour.
To kill sometime at 19:00 we nipped into a pub for a pint. I could hear English being spoken in with many different accents. As an ESL teacher I love the idea of so many people communicating in their second or even third language. Alfonz and I were happily sitting on the edge of the street, listening to the sounds of paris, watching people go by and smelling the fresh rain. It really reminded me of Budapest. We were falling in love with Paris. The man next to us started talking to us. He started with, Where you from? After a few minutes we found out that he lives in Paris and used to live in Marseille with his now ex wife and children. I was happy to meet him, if felt like an affirmation of our decisions of moving here. I saw the alternative and the envy in his face. He regretted working so hard, not making the time for them, leaving her alone for too long and not seeing his kids enough. Confirmation. Thank you to the stranger. A man who seems to have everything. Money. Nice Car. Nice clothes. But money is not everything.
Back at the restaurant, we ended up next to a doctor and his long time girlfriend on one side who had the secret to a long term relationship. She lived outside Paris and he was living in the village. They both raised their kids separately but always met in the middle. They were together for over twenty years.
On the other side sat a newly wed couple ready to start their own family who were from Texas. They were there on business, exploring the city and said this restaurant was excellent. Staying across the street in a moderately priced hotel, they were here the year before and knew the city well.
At Le Petit Casimir , our table was in the middle of the tiny cramped establishment with only 28 seats. The decor was original, old and interesting, with antiques hanging off every shelf. The owner ran the joint and his wife was the chef. He held up a little black board with the daily menu. He came and made fun of the Americans and then us in turn. I had the French onion soup as an appetizer and Alfonz had a beautiful big salad. I ordered the last orange duck for my entree and Alfonz had pork tenderloin that fell apart it was so soft. Delicious and tasty. We paired it with the house wine and ordered a creme brulee to share. We were the loudest most entertaining table by far. Across the aisle from us was an Australian family.
It was a traditional three course three hour dinner, where elbow to elbow you chatted with your neighbour/ Intimate, special and more interesting than most restaurants I have been to. It was very nice and a memorable evening. The bill was also reasonable at 75€/ with wine included in Paris! Tres bien!
Sunday morning was a special occasion in France and many tourist sites, museums and historical sites are free to the public. Except the tower, so we thought perhaps the line-ups would be reasonable. We headed straight there after check-out, which our hotel ended up free because they had no hot water. With unwashed hair we got on the train, which stopped mid stream and we were stuck in the middle of unknown Paris. A nice Parisian young man, probably a student, asked us in perfect English, Are you looking for the Eiffel Tower? We said yes and he and his father dismounted the train and took us to the street outside the station and said follow this road and you will be there in 15 minutes, faster than staying on the train and walking back from the last station. They totally went out of their way to help us, again, not even being asked they were just being nice. Impressive! Where are the rude Parisians again? hmmm
We stood in the 20 minute line-up and made it to the very top by 12:00. It was worth it, spectacular and behind us the lines were very long. From here we decided to go to the train station, find some lunch and be there early for our departure at 15:00. Alfonz found this little restaurant just outside the train station in a cool trendy neighbourhood called the Viaduct Cafe where they were known for their Jazz Brunch; live music played while we ate. We took an outside street table, the weather was wonderful and warm, and I ordered lamb chops and Alfonz had the breaded cutlet, both recommended on Tripadvisor.
After our tummies were full, we arrived early enough for a cup of joe at the station, and found our seats for the long ride home. The train stopped short and had to change tracks as there was a fire on the tracks. Surprisingly we met up with a friend from Capestang and he drove us from Montpellier, home, saving our friend Mallory a trip to the Beziers train station.
It was a wonderful trip, and I would recommend the city of love for anyone wanting a nice long weekend of romance.