Eiffel Tower, Paris
There is a pleasant little ritual the French engage in when you walk into their store. You are always greeted (Bonjour) and you are expected to greet in return. If you ignore their greeting you are not likely to be treated well.
Once the greeting was done they seemed to wait for you to give them an idea of what you were looking for. They were discreet and didn't shadow you constantly. I would always thank the staff that was helping me before going to pay (if it wasn't the same person) which was always received very nicely.
When you leave the store always thank them and say au revoir.
Most of the places I went I found staff was more than happy to help you in English if you at least made an attempt at trying to communicate in French. This willingness was extremely helpful in some situations. One that particularly stands out for me was when i had lost my reading glasses and needed a replacement pair. The lady that helped me was so delightfully helpful once she understood my need.
In the summer of 2006 I initiated a forum thread in which I asked the question: "The Eiffel Tower in Paris currently has 1,178 tips here on VirtualTourist, in seven different categories. Is there any other single attraction on VT which has more tips than that?"
It took a while for everyone to understand that I was talking about tips on VirtualTourist, not hits on a search engine, but after we got that straightened out the consensus was that the Eiffel Tower does indeed have more tips than any other single attraction in the world. "A French victory!!" as pieter_jan_v commented.
Every year since then I have done a re-count at the beginning of September. If for some reason you want to see the figures for the years 2006-2012, you can find them in my travelogue called "The four places in Paris with the most VT tips”.
The figures for 2013 cannot really be compared to the ones from previous years, since the Paris tips have been cleaned up and reorganized in the meantime, but just for the record, as of September 2013 there are 811 Things to Do tips about the Eiffel Tower, 22 Nightlife tips, 7 Off the Beaten Path tips, 52 Tourist Trap tips, 151 General tips a.k.a. Favorites and three Local Customs tips, making a total of 1,046 tips on the Eiffel Tower.
By the way, these figures do not include the 20 reviews (mostly negative) of the restaurant Altitude 95, which is in the Eiffel Tower. This restaurant is now under new management and has been re-named 58 Tour Eiffel. The old name referred to its altitude, 95 meters above sea level, and the new name also refers to its altitude, 58 meters above ground level. (So it hasn't suddenly dropped thirty-seven meters, in case you were worried.)
Next to Notre-Dame Cathedral in the Latin quarter is a huge building with many French flags flying. This is the Prefecture de police which is located in quite a lovely 19th century building.
IT IS NOT THE POLICE MUSEUM where you will find out about the French history, see old weapons and uniforms and learn about criminal affairs.
That is located at 4, rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, A short walk away.
OPEN.....Mon - Fri 9am-5pm. On Saturday : 10am-5pm.
FREE ENTRY.... but the gifts to the Association are welcome.
PS>>>>>If you need help and can't speak French, there are police available that can speak bi-lingual.
Well, I didn't get lost and I don't think you will either. Pick up a FREE MAP, they are a must.
Now, if you are like me, and fold and fold it until it gets really tatty and unreadable, do not worry, as I noticed Paris is very well signposted. All the sights of importance have a BROWN sign pointing in the direction to go, in English too! So easy!
Identifying markers at the door. 1416, such a long time ago. There is nothing in the USA, but geographical landmarks, that are as old as this building. You can imagine how impressed I was each time I realized how old some of the buildings of Paris were, that they were still standing and that I was able to see them.
This lady at the Musée Rodin sat herself right in front of the museum's most-visited sculpture and mugged for her companion's camera for a full 10 minutes or more. The art-lovers were NOT amused. Nobody wants you in their photo any more than you want them in yours. Many of us don't want a human in our shots at all. Please don't monopolize the monuments, sculptures, fountains, etc. with endless snaps/footage of everyone in your group of 50, or a "gotta get it perfect" session for the Christmas card.
Not, of course, that any of you would do that.... :)
French people have strange local customs! If you wander around Paris (and France in general) you will notice lots of statues without their heads. Strange aesthetic values? A French colleague who recently went to Greece told me that you could also see beheaded statues there. Ahhh, but this is not the same! That was Art recycling: in Roman, Greek times statues were the expression of the reality idealized, the regular proportions, bla bla bla and when an emperor died instead of doing another sculpture they kept the same body and only changed the head, which even if it was also idealized, had the new character’s main features.
Here we could talk about the famous “guillotine”. It is difficult to establish its origins because it has different ancestors that appeared during the XIIth, XIIIth and XVth centuries in Italy, the current Netherlands and in North Europe. We hear for the first time about the mechanical beheading method using the device that nowadays we know as “guillotine” during two speeches in l’Assemblée Constituante (10th October and 1rst December 1789) when Dr Joseph Ignace Guillotin, considered this execution method more « human » than the hanging or the beheading with an axe because the death was immediate.
« Le couteau tombe, la tête est tranchée à la vitesse du regard, l’homme n’est plus. À peine sent-il un rapide souffle d’air frais sur la nuque. »
Furthermore, having only one method of execution was also seen as an expression of equality among citizens (can we apply . . . égalité et fraternité also here?) because before that different execution methods were used depending on the kind of crime and the condemned man’s social condition. The guillotine will be used from 1792 until 1939.
But I have a my theory about this particular French taste for the beheaded bodies . . . do you know who is the saint patron of Paris? Saint Denis!, a Christian bishop, who was martyred in approximately A.D. 250 and . . . decided to wander around Paris with his beheaded head preaching a sermon the entire way!!!! (picture 4)
After all this lucubration and even if hairdressing salons in Paris are well-known throughout the world, I think I will wait until my next trip to Barcelona to have my hair cut!!
The french like to give you a little kiss on the chin, when they say hello, they call it "la bise" (the kiss). In some places it is just one kiss and in other places it is four kisses. I never found out when to give just one or four, but just go for it. In general you will get 4 kisses if you are a charming lady !
You do like this: Start with a ´"bonjour" and then a little smile, and then the liltte kiss. You make the "kiss sound" but not directly on the chin, it is like half on the chin and half in the air !
Bonne chance !
Just ti clarify WHY I opened this topic:
Since the beggining of 2008, several brasilians ( I mean here a number around 200 people ) have been sent back from the MADRID, Spain, airport. This has made to the news and several people that we think that should not be discriminated are so. Other have been kept at the airport, for several ahours in a small room, without having access to a phone, barely having access to water.
Of course, I must admit, some of these people should be sent back, since they were trying to ilegally immigrate to EU using Spain as port of entry, due to similarities between portuguese and spanish. Some even did not carry more than US$100 in their pockets.
That trigged a response from customs officials here, in Brasil, and cities like Salvador and Rio de Janeiro started to check documents in depth and sending back spanish people. Retaliation, they say, and several comments on the press report this. This is NOT a official position taken by the goverment, I must say. Just a response from some custom officials.
Then I started to wonder: EU immigration rules are the same for all countries. And I called the French Consulate and got the answer I reported at the beggining of the topic.
I am 62 and do not want to leave things to chance. That's why I would like to get experiences and information on the subject.
I did not make a decision yet. But probably I will buy travellers checks just to show and will bring most of them back, wasting the bank spread and taxes, just to play safe.
I will re-read carefully all comments later on and post any responses, if needed.
Thank you all.
Again, thank you all.
I did call the French Consulate in Rio. The person was not really helpful. Stated that I must carry a valid passport, return air tickets, hotel reservations and that amount in CASH: EUR 60 per day). And, of course, the final word on whether or not I would be accepted is from the customs official.
I asked about a credit card (I am taking a brasilian-based and an american-based). The answer was that I must proof how much is my credit. Simple: I can take the last two statements, showing my credit-line.
Tha flaw is that my statements are in PORTUGUESE.
Of course I am aware that I would need Euros in chash for snacks, metro, etc. What I am considering is buying traveller-checks and, when coming back, selling the excess to my bank, wasting the bank spread plus all the taxes.
Contrary to its reputation, English is spoken by many, although many don't speak it very well therefore it is best to try and use French whenever possible, but if you cannot speak French, then politely say "Parlez-vous Anglais". Most if you make an effort to speak their language will try to speak as much English as they can. Also the French are very picky about pronounciation so any incorrect pronounciation may make it difficult for them to understand. In addition Parisian French is very different from Quebec French so if you learned Quebec French speak slowly as although the vocabulary is different the accent is quite different and may be difficult to understand at regular conversation speed.
Walking around the Ile de la Cite we came to the Palais De Justice , an impressive building with wrought iron gates and fences and a group of policemen on duty at the entrance to the building. I have learnt that most officials do not like being photographed, however if you go up and speak with them, politely ask whether you may take a photo, they nearly always are very pleased to pose.
Address: 4 Boulevarde de Paris
I speak zero French. But I learned 10 words that will get you pretty far:
Bonjour Madame or Misseur "Hello"
Bonsoir ('Bon-Swa') "Good Evening"
Absolument ('abso-LU-mon') "Absolutely"
Merci "Thank you"
Merci beaucoup "Thank you very much"
Billet ('bill-ya') "Ticket"
un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, dix "one, two, three, four, five, ten"
Oui ('we') "yes"
SVP ('see-vu-play') "Please"
Other important words:
Addition ('add-dich-e-on') "The check"
Compris ('com-pre') "Tip is included"
In France, the service of course is not the tip, but is included.
The service is the cost of labor, and the tip is the small gesture that you add or leave to say merci...
Paying for the labor, in the French mindset and law, should not be a matter of hoping the customer will value you.
In America, the service and tip are one and the same.
Many US-based waiters and waitresses work for as little as $3.00 an hour... and don´t seem to be disturbed ... because "it´s all in the tips," whereas the French would starve if they had to rely on what was left on the little plastic plate.
And, in fact, you can´t compare the jobs on both sides of the world because you may get more cash at the end of the night
in the USA, but what are you going to do if you get sick -- or get fired?
Additionally, those of you who are accustomed to leaving tips in North America by filling in the amount on the blank line on the credit card slip note that in France one cannot add to a credit card payment.
The act of adding dollars to a slip of paper, is psychologically easier than dropping bills.
But in France, neither happens.
You get an honest salary and some pocket change.
The key to most things in Paris is not the ability to be generous but to be elegant.
Let elegance be your trademark as you grace the Parisian tables.
Round up to an elegant number and smile. But don´t go higher.
Parisians in the service industry have admitted been spoiled by the ill-advised and euro-confused.
our best bet with Parisian taxi drivers is not letting on that you don´t know the system nor know where the heck you´re going. As long as they suspect you are a local, you shouldn´t be taken for a ride.
Again, a small tip is usual. Round up to the next elegant spot.
Before you arrive in France, you must know what is happening here.
Is there a strike?
What day is it? Is it a holiday? It is a Monday?
This country is closed more than open, so you must know when the stores,markets, etc. are open.
This is a country of civil servants which have life contracts of employment.
They are not interested to help you with anything.
They are interested in what they can get.
About 5 years ago, the JOBLESS went "on strike" because their unemployment benefits didn't include a Christmas bonus... how does that work, exactly?