Guest Blog: Paris Travel Tips
Antiques Diva® Paris Tour Guide Jennifer is our special Guest Blogger today at The Antiques Diva® & Co!
The daughter of an antiques dealer, Jennifer’s love of all things old started at a young age. Her earliest memories are of spending long days at auctions with her father. From the Boston area originally, preppy is in her blood and though Jennifer met the (French) man of her dreams, marrying and moving to Paris a decade ago, she can’t shake that blue-blood style! Though she admits, shifting from life as an insurance professional and Junior League member during her previous life stateside to maman and femme au foyer (a fancy word for French housewife) in Paris has come as naturally to her as if she were to the chateau born! Not only does Jennifer bring great Bostonian style to Paris but she also brings bits of Paris back home to Boston. For the last decade during her spare time Jen could be found scouting Les Puces de Paris, shopping for inventory for her family antique business. Her particular favorite thing to shop for are boule d’escalier en verre (that glass ball that sits on newel posts). When Jen decided to return to work after having children, she decided that Paris was much too glamorous to continue her insurance career so she turned her passion for antiques into employment and is now a member of our Paris Antiques Diva team!
One of the many things Jen is particularly good at is sharing Paris Travel Tips with our clients. Since a lot of our Diva Readers & Clients are coming to The City of Light for the first time, Jen thought it would be a great idea to share some of her top tips – though she starts off by confessing a caveat: “not all of these tips are totally Diva-esque! Jen’s the first to recognize that sometimes even Divas are practical when traveling!”
Jen’s Paris Travel Tips
- Buy a Paris Museum Pass. Even if you are planning to visit just a few museums, consider getting a two-day pass (http://en.parismuseumpass.com/). Time is money and not wasting two hours in line at the Louvre is worth it! Don’t forget that Paris has a plethora of museums; be sure to check out some of the lesser known ones (http://www.parisnotes.com/museums/parismuseums.html).
- Buy your metro tickets in packs of ten (à l’unité vs en carnet). Always keep your ticket until you exit the metro in case you are controlled.
- If possible, don’t bring your laptop and/or activate your smart phone in France. Enjoy Paris! Do you really want your office to be able to reach you day and night or to waste your time surfing the internet when you could be sipping a kir (white wine and crème de cassis) on the banks of the Seine? Do your “friends” need a status update every time you cross the street in Paris? Trust me, we all survived before Twitter. Of course, if you’re on an Antiques Diva® Tour you might not be able to help yourself but to tweet about your fab find to make all your friends back home jealous!
- Skip your hotel’s continental breakfast; it can translate to $40 a person. Consider exploring your neighborhood and having coffee/croissants at a local boulangerie or patisserie: many have little tables. TIP: if you have your coffee standing up at the bar area of a restaurant instead of sitting at a table, your coffee usually costs less.
- Speaking of coffee, if you want milk in your coffee order a “café crème” and not “café au lait” like tourists do. The French don’t drink milk in their coffee after breakfast, so if you order a coffee at lunch or dinner it will be an espresso (ask for a café). It is always served as a separate course i.e., after dessert. Slow down and enjoy your meals like the French do. Often you will have to ask for your check, not because of bad service but because restaurants encourage people to linger over their meals.
- Bone up on military time as the 24-hour clock is still big here. I still get confused and forget that 16h is 4:00 pm and not 6:00 pm.
- Learn the names of offal in French. Might not sound important, but wait till you order “ris de veau” and your veal roast turns out to be sweetbreads! Pronunciation counts too when ordering. I’ll never forget the time I ordered Lillet (an apéritif ) and got a glass of le lait (milk).
- Carry an umbrella and sunglasses at all times because the weather can fluctuate between rainy and sunny all day long. The Antiques Diva takes this a step further and also packs a hat!
- Face it, unless you plan to launder large amounts of cash overseas, leave the money belt at home. Do carry your wallet in a safe place, such as an inside zippered pocket in your purse. Another dead give away: NO WHITE SNEAKERS! Converse and Pumas maybe, but black shoes or boots will get you further. And everybody really does wear scarves over here, even in the summer. DIVA TIP: French people even sleep with their scarf on if they feel a cold coming on!
- Leave the lipstick and hairbrush in your purse as personal grooming in public is considered gauche, but, if you’re a smoker, do get out the Marlboro Lights. It is still chic to smoke here, although you can no longer smoke in most bars and restaurants.
- Most people think to notify their credit card company that they will be traveling abroad, but if you will be buying a lot of antiques, cash is king and consider asking your bank to increase your daily cash withdrawal limit as well.
- Make sure to find out your PIN # for your credit card before you travel as many places only accept credit cards with PIN.
- It is always a good idea to look nice when visiting Paris, but leave your gems at home. The French are not blatant with their bling and it is never a good idea to flaunt your Rolex on the metro. TIP: When antique shopping at “Les Puces”, dressing stylishly yet discretely is always a good bargaining tool.
- A coffee might be 5€ in a café, but think of it as renting space for the afternoon. You won’t be bothered as you write your postcards. Better yet, order a glass of wine. It is often cheaper than soda.
- Travel with a copy of your passport, not just for security reasons but also to detaxe (partial refund on the VAT: http://www.detaxe.com/ ).
- Paying 600€ plus for dinner gets old, fast. Most of the 3 star Michelin restaurants have fantastic lunch deals (http://www.paris-best-restaurants.com/restaurants/michelin-3-star-paris-restaurants.php ) and if you inquire about our Concierge Services at [email protected] we’re happy to help you book a table or make restro recommendations. Don’t forget to check out some of the smaller restaurants, and if you see a menu in English, RUN! TIP: Ordering “le menu” (two or three courses for a set price, usually with choices) off “la carte” is usually your best option.
- The French don’t hate Americans, just rudeness in general as they define it. It is a more formal culture and some basic knowledge of French etiquette such as “bonjour monsieur /merci au revoir/bonne journée” goes a long way.
- With a few exceptions, most of the French stores can be found in larger US cities and often with better prices. Skip the chain stores! Yes Petit Bateau has a better selection and cheaper prices in France, but did you really come here to hang at the mall? The chain “Monoprix” (like a small Target with food) is a good source for baby and children’s clothes at great prices. Just tell everybody back home that it is like a trendier Bon Point (high-end children’s boutique).
- Toilets are always plural here, even if there is just one. So always ask “Ou sont les toilettes?” and never “Ou est la toilette?”. The public cubicle-style toilets that you find on some sidewalks are now free.
- And finally, consider one of the Antiques Diva’s exciting tours by emailing [email protected] or customized itineraries to make your stay even more enjoyable. Only the most privileged can brag about exploring Paris Diva-style!
Paris Diva Guide Jennifer