Actually, i don't live in Paris. I live right next door in a city with a slightly larger population than Gilroy (about 50,000 inhabitants), Antony. This school year I am giving English lessons in two elementary level schools in Antony. So far, I have only given four class sessions for 6 classes, and for my two final classes I have given only one lesson so far.
But teaching is not the most interesting thing that I've been doing. I really love learning a new method for day to day life.
BASTILLE DAY 2009
April is an ideal time to visit Paris. Another good time to be in Paris is for the Basrtille Day celebrations . Terrific atmosphere.
The Bastille Day Parade is the big event. It starts at 10:00 am and the parade moves fast so you have to be at your viewing point , wherever it may be , well in advance.
Women's Safety in Paris
As a single female traveler to Paris I find that safety is an issue of paramount importance. You'll want to stay in an area where you'll feel safe. A few areas I'd stay away from include the Pigalle area near the Moulin Rouge (ok during the day but not safe to travel at night) and the rue St-Denis area from the 2nd up to the 9th. Reserve these night-time visits when you are with a male friend or a large group.
I have stayed in the 5th arrondissement at the Hôtel les Degrés de Nôtre Dame on the rue des Grands Degrés; although it was a very quiet area it felt very safe.
Also, I've stayed in the Marais/4th arrondissement. While I didn't think the area around the Grand Hôtel Jeanne d'Arc was loud, it was very lively around the Place du Marché Ste-Catherine & I loved hanging out there 'til 1am sometimes - not raucous or loud, just lively, full of people. I loved it. I would stay there again.
I've been to Paris 5 times for a total of 41 days and out of that I've traveled single 4 times for a total of 37 days. I tromp around Paris on my own even in Montmartre, Montparnasse, around and along Canal St-Martin, in the 9th, 10th and the 13th arrondissement (yes, even at night). The only time I've ever felt uncomfortable was walking from Barbés Rochechouart station to Anvers station (because it was practically deserted); not a smart move on my part.
Of course, as in any city it's always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings, constantly checking around you and not walk down deserted places . Walk with you back straight, head erect, walk briskly, walk in a way that would make someone think twice about making you a target. And stick to the main thoroughfares where lots of people travel. Trip before last I stayed in Montmartre for 8 days in youth hostel. Nobody bothered me. I'd get out at Anvers station and walk straight north. It was always crowded. Up around Sacré Coeur, west to Place du Tertre and east down rue Maurice Utrillo. Even up 'til 1am it was crowded with tourists (and this in the low season of February).
Many times I walked the Quartier Latin, the Île de la Cité, the Île St-Louis & the Marais by midnight. I always passed many couples and young groups of people on my way. The wonderful thing about thess areas is that I feel completely safe & comfortable as a single woman walking through it late at night. What immense freedom!
Photo: April 2003
No shorts please
Ok, so I know you're on vacation and you don't care what these people think but please be aware that if you wear shorts in Paris you might as well carry a sign saying I AM A TOURIST!
They may wear short skirts but they never ever wear shorts. Actually they do, but is a subject of much hilarity. Last summer just before the August vacations started one of the lawyers in the firm came to work with Bermudas and shoes with no socks. I guess he was making a statement but he is French and can get away with it.
You will just look silly.
A wise idea for anyone planning on doing any shopping is to bring two suitcases instead of trying to jam everything into one. Reason primarily is that if you luggage is over a certain weight limit (check with individual airlines - the weights were different in different countries) you will get charged a fee (i paid 30 USD once and then 30 EUR in Spain to France). You can check two bags at no additional cost so why not have the room purchases and save the cash. In winter, be sure to bring an umbrella and weather tolerant coat/ boots. Weather was rainy a good amount of the time we were there - rain, snow, rain again.
Be fashionable. I wouldn't wear old T-shirts or ratty jeans and sneakers unless you want to be imeedaitely spotted and labeled as an "American Tourist". If you still go with this outfit, see my tip under warnings and dangers for beggars - as you'll be a target. Bring benedryl in case of any sort of allergic reaction. Who knows what the process is to get medications there for stuff we can readily get over the counter in the states.