Favorite thing Prior to our trip, I bought a set of CD's (8) "French with Michel Thomas". I listened to them in my car on the way to work and back. Regular price about $56 but you can probably get them a little cheaper on Ebay or Half.com. It was really easy to learn some basic communication which really came in handy when encountering locals who could not speak any English at all. The English language is derived from French so there are some similarities which make it easy to learn - this is all explained in the CD's. At least by listening to the CD's, you get a very good idea on how to pronounce the words.
Favorite thing Where can you find an Eiffel Tower with a cowboy hat on top??? In good ol' Texas of course!!
I finally made it to Paris, TX! Very nice people (in the restaurant Jaxx (excellent burgers), in the souvenir shop "Paris Creations"). Hard to find the Eiffel tower which is out of town near the community college E of town.
Well, until I build my own VT Paris TX page, I invite you to go to VT member Keeveechic's Paris (Texas) page which is really excellent.
Favorite thing One of our favorite things about Paris is the interaction with the people. Whether it is the desk clerk at the hotel, the merchant in a store, your waiter or waitress in a restaurant or people you encounter on the street, knowing a few words of french goes a long way. We learned a few phrases and some exra words, such as please, thank you and you're welcome and with a smile or a chuckle we got through our trip with ease. The people were more than willing to help and be friendly when they knew you were showing them respect by trying to speak their language.
Favorite thing So, we were brought to my uncle's home. So tired after our long flight that we went sleeping right away. The discovery of Paris started the following day.
Since we stayed at my uncle's place, we first had to go to supermaket to buy all we needed.
On our way to the supermarket, in my uncle's car, I noticed people in Paris used to listen to radio. In Madagascar, we didn't do that that much... or maybe I hadn't noticed others did... Anyways, that was the past... Nowadays, you can't walk in Tana streets without hearing songblast from flash cars, 4WD, SUV the young things use to drive.
Fondest memory It was during those rides that I listened to Top50 (music charts). I discovered a lot there.. all artists, French and non-French alike... and especially the 80s music "artists".
Say Michael Jackson (with Mc Cartney, they sang "Say, Say, Say" at that time), Tina Turner (a comeback), Rita Mitsouko (only Francophiles would know them)... I am sure there are more. Yes, more: Jean-Jacques Goldman (still listening to him), Lahaie, Phil Collins + Genesis, Cindy Lauper (I like her) ...
Pop music is one of thing I discovered in Paris. I liked it and it changed me a lot from classical music I used to hear playing home. This is also one of fondest memories of Paris.
As for my uncle, he appreciated "Les Grosses Têtes". Both he and my parents liked to listen to this program. It was (and still IS) all about witty humour. Philippe BOUVARD, the host invited(s) persons with his crew. Then, they have some chat, guessing games about news of various topics.. It can be about stars, politicians.. Sthg like "Guess who said this?".. or other guessing games. All of that with culture, laughters, wit and cleverness.
When it was on, I knew I was going to spend sometime not understanding anything. I could speak French but my French was not that rich.. Plus, I was shy. I remembered avoiding speaking to my uncle, the first days, in the fear of having to speak French. hihi... Whenever had then to ask to my parents about things in my uncle's house. My Mum used to say, "Ask your uncle". After some days, I started talking to my uncle and I spoke to him... in Malagasy. :) My uncle is a very tender guy.. really nice with kids.
Of course, in Brussels, I listened to "Les grosses têtes" once in a while... and I spoke French in everyday life, English at one of the jobs I landed. Malagasy is the one I use most, nowadays. :-)
Favorite thing People watching at a cafe.
I like to find a good location somewhere in the city:
(Opera, Montparnasse, Latin Quarter or the Champs Ellysees but almost any cafe in Paris will do);
order my favorite beverage
(carafe vin de la maison rouge, juice, an espresso, whatever);
light up, ... and just sit there & watch Paris go by.
What else is Paris for?
"Happiness is the best facelift...." Joni Mitchell Copyright Joni Mitchell
Fondest memory I tried my best to learn enough polite French to avoid as much as possible being perceived as "le touriste americain laid grossier."
Conversational French ( especially hearing & understanding it at normal speed ) was and is still difficult for me but I worked at it for weeks before I flew to Paris for the first time.
One day I needed to use a telecarte phone card I had purchased at a tabac, but could not get it to work. The call was important and I was very tired and frustrated.
I stopped a typically fashionable and lovely Parisian woman on the street and struggled in my primitive French to apologize and explain my small problem.
She immediately took me by the hand into a phone booth, got my card to work, and made the call for me.
When I thanked her simply in French ("Merci beaucoup, Madame") she smiled, hugged me, and in perfect English (she spoke it all along...) said "and thank you sir for the 'Merci Beaucoup!' You are very polite and it was my pleasure."
I will never forget her or her wonderful example of "parisian gentilles."
Madame, wherever you are, Merci... Vous etes tres gentile, et tres aimable. x
At upper-left is my homage to a classic cafe shot from Anthonys "Street Scenes" collection you can find here:
An Anthony Atkielski Facelift
Thank you Anthony.
Favorite thing The French have been so nice & good to me - I've never felt so welcomed in all my life - received several compliments on either my French or my attempts at speaking French - they were very kind. Paris, despite the language barriers, feels like home to me. Whenever I go into a café or shop I try out my language skills (or lack thereof); I feel like I'm at a favorite aunt or uncle's house who let me know it's okay even though I fumble in my attempts.
Perhaps it's because I appreciate the culture, try to drink things in, make an effort to speak the language & just utterly enjoying myself that things turn out well. Who knows? But to my credit, I am obsessed with Paris and have spent many years reading up on the place before ever stepping foot there. I am in love with the culture, the architecture, the history, the art, the food, the language, American literature written over there, the general expat history. Perhaps if I'd been less well-prepared it would've turned out differently? Badly? It has been said that it is all in the attitude.
Fondest memory Le Vieux Bistro
Suzanne & I carried on a conversation, she in her limited English, and I in my equally limited French. We talked about Paris, I showed her my itinerary; she issued approval over certain restaurants.
Ballet at the Opéra Garnier
I met an Italian pianiste at the ballet. She spoke no English, no French; I spoke no Italian & have lost almost all my Spanish. I tried to tell her it was my very 1st time ever at the ballet & that I was happy it was in Paris but she couldn't even understand my attempts at saying 1st (premiere? primo?). But still we managed to carry on several conversations before the ballet, during intermission & after. I gave her some postacards from the Marmottan & she recently mailed them back to me.
Irishman on Quai de la Megisserie
As Iwalked along the right bank I met an Irishman walking around Paris his last night getting photos taken of himself with landmarks in the background. We ended up talking about Paris, Shakespeare & Co., James Joyce, Sylvia Beach (who’d published Ulysses), Dublin (where he’d attended university) and the Irish folk-punk band, The Pogues, one of my favorites. I asked him if he might be up for a visit to Sylvia’s original Shakespeare & Co. on rue de l’Odeon. He agreed but first we stopped for a pint of Guinness at Irish bar on rue St-Andre-des-Arts, Corcoran.
It’s always nice meeting new friends in Paris and Seamus (can you get more of an Irish name than Seamus?) was a true gentleman and a great conversationalist. He made me promise that when Mr. Connolly and I visited Ireland that we’d come to visit his family because his father is a genealogy enthusiast and would love to help us with our Connolly roots.
Roommate at Le Village
One of my roommates staying in the dorm room at the youth hostel was Nori from Japan. We hit it off due to our mutual interest in art. When he returned home he e-mailed me to let me know I was one of his nicest roommates on his entire trip. How nice!
Photos: Feb 2006
Favorite thing Funniest moment - we're waiting for the green/yellow bus to pull up at the stop near Nôtre Dame and one of the British passengers remarked "Look, dear, they drive on the wrong side". My friend & I, being from the U.S., just cracked up. The French drive on the right side of the road just as Americans do! Different perspectives and so unexpected!
Photo: March 2001
Favorite thing So what kind of traveler are you? What is it that you're looking for in a vacation? Perhaps you're the sort that enjoys being pampered at the resort spas? Maybe you go for the adventures in culture such as museums, literary pursuits, castles, jazz clubs? Or maybe you're the sporty type who is in for an adventure? On vacation or holiday some may like to visit the ocean to lie on the beach maybe watch the sunrises & sunsets - is that you?
Whatever type of traveler you are, it is imperative to know if you are traveling with others that way you can best figure out an itinerary to fit all types. Discuss what you like, decide what your expectations are for the upcoming trip, that way everyone gets a little bit of what they want from the trip & everyone comes out happier.
Fondest memory As for me I'm definitely cultcha! I love the museums, the expansive cathedrals, the soaring architecture, the language, literary haunts, jazz clubs, bookshops, people watching, seeking the final resting places of certain folk (i.e. Oscar Wilde, Madame Curie, Victor Hugo, Napoléon). These are the things that make me happy!
Photo: April 2003
Fondest memory Ah! So you've been learning French! You can now order your own meal with ease! You can pick up a pack of cigs from le tabac! Well, let me give you a piece of advice that the t-shirt vendor dude on the Place du Parvis gave me. He told me the BEST way to learn French is to grab a Frenchman and practice! What better way to learn the French language than through the language of amour!!
Photo: March 2001
Favorite thing Confucius presents some useful French phrases for your next visit to Paris:
Maybe you need directions in Paris and a farmer from the French countryside suddenly stops you on the street and asks you for help instead. Hey, it could happen! Tell him:
"Je n'habite pas en Paris" I don't live in Paris.
"Je suis en vacances" I am on vacation.
"Je suis perdu aussi" I'm lost too!
"Tant pis pour toi" Tough luck for you!
One of my favorite French phrases in Paris is:
"Ou est le restaurant chinois la plus proche?
(Where is the nearest Chinese restaurant?)
Finished eating at a cafe? Say 'check please'
"L'addition s'il vous plait"
If you are invited by Paris friends for a home cooked meal, try surprising them with this:
"Je peux faire la vaisselle?"
(May I do the dishes?)
Engage them in some after dinner conversation:
"Les films de Jerry Lewis sont vachement drole, n'est pas?"
(Those Jerry Lewis movies are extremely funny, aren't they?)
"Vous avez 'Les Simpsons' a la tele ici?"
(Do you have 'The Simpsons" on TV here?)
A useful phrase for Paris taxi drivers is:
"Tu connais le chemin?"
(Do you know the way?)
Forget the taxi. You know your way around. Put on your yellow shirt, rent a bicycle, and say to Paris cyclists:
"On fait la course?" (Want to race?)
"Qui a gagne?" Who won?
(Please notice that "gagne" is pronounced the same as the name of the Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne!)
"J'ai une faim de loup!"
I'm as starving as a wolf!
"On va acheter la barbe a papa"
Let's buy some cotton candy.
(The French word for cotton candy literally means 'daddy's beard')
Pouring down rain? The French say
"Il pleut des cordes" which literally means that it's raining ropes.
"Je peux emprunter un parapluie?"
(May I borrow an umbrella?)
Fondest memory By the way, you might need to say this at your hotel or even on the street :
"Je voudrais envoyer un courriel"
(I want to send an e-mail.)
The French government just outlawed use of the word "e-mail" in French language. Please respect the French government's sensitivity and use the approved substitute "courriel" when speaking French.
See the sexy Parisienne?
"Vachement bandante" (Extremely sexy)
Say that to your buddy, then approach her in style and try this pick-up line:
"Je peux voir sur votre tatouage?"
(May I look at your tattoo?)
She might smile and say "D'accord" or she could frown and mutter something about onions:
"Ce n'est pas tes oignons"
(It's none of your business.)
Pretend you did not understand and then purposely mispronounce this old phrase from your high school French:
"Repetez, sil vous plait", which when spoken carelessly means "Please fart again."
She might change her mind some day so
be sure to hand her your e-mail address:
"Envoie-moi un courriel"
(Send me an e-mail.)
You might want to add a "s'il vous plait" at the end of that phrase to impress her with a sincere "please"
"Qui m'a chope mon dico?"
(Who stole my dictionary?)
"Tant pis pour toi!" Tough luck for you!
Favorite thing Oh yeah...there is a Paris in France too!! It's actually the capital of the country. Real nice place. What's to do there?... Lots!! I am afraid it will not fit in just one tip. May I suggest that you be re-routed to the many excellent VT pages on Paris there are?
For a glimpse of this city, which reputation makes it romantic, beautiful, city of lights, culture center, history mecca, packed with world-reknowned museums...go see the pictures in my travelogues on Paris, France!
Fondest memory I studied there for a few years. I encourage anybody to go study in Paris, it is a fantastic experience. The only danger is to be pulled away from your study books by the many temptations of this marvellous capital!
Favorite thing The french can be very friendly and helpful. You as a visitor in France need to make an attempt to speak their language.
They respond so nicely even if your french is dreadful.
However if you make no effort and insisit on only speaking english or your native tongue they seem to feel no need to make any effort either. Can you really blame them?