“So… tell me all about France. I want a list of things you liked and what you didn’t.”
My sister’s boyfriend asked this as we sat around the table sharing a plate of sweet potato fries post trip. I was in a jet-lagged stupor. I didn’t sleep on the plane. I didn’t sleep in Paris. I took a plane at 4:00 pm in England and landed at 4:00 pm in Seattle. Time travel is exhausting.
When he asked me about the trip I growled, “Well, a guy whipped a beer can at me in Grenoble.”
I don’t know why I went right to the negative thing, the what-I-thought-was-funny thing. Yes, this actually happened. The Husband and I were trying to find our hotel room in Grenoble, a city in the French Alps and heard drunken ramblings from across the street.
Then a beer can collided with my leg. I yelled WHAT THE F*CK? in my big Chicago mean voice. I contemplated throwing it back, but I’m a lefty and not a very good pitcher and I didn’t really feel like being the subject of a brutal attack.
He lumbered back into whatever dive he came from. I have to mention him. Because the beer thrower (I call him Lance) is possibly the only real “rude” person we met traveling through France. And we met a lot of people.
Ok, I am 90% sure a group of girls were talking smack about me on the train, but it’s not like I was about to ask them to confirm.
Excusie-moi are you talking about moi?
I can, however, confirm this:
1. French people are not rude!
French people are not rude!
I have to say this twice because even my most worldly friends warned me that I would be hissed at for daring to bother them with French where I didn’t perfectly hit the accents. I do speak French, almost fluently, but I am pretty sure I sound like a choking goose. Most people were super patient and hospitable.
I wouldn’t call them small-town smiley, but they are not rude.
Let’s move on to Paris hotels.
2. Paris hotels are small
Yep, expect a very small room for a very big price. But you knew that.
We stayed at the Design Sorbonne, a little hotel in the 6th arondissment that looks like bien sur something right out of Amelie.
It was difficult to find, like everything in Paris. We got off the metro, and went on a thirty-minute hunt for this tiny hotel, me in a fraying t-shirt, baggy jeans, plane breath and all, piloting my suitcase around piles of dog stuff and hordes of impeccably dressed students on bicycles.
When we finally found the hotel (not its fault), it proved to be a welcome respite, a cozy hideaway where I could conceal my unsophisticated self until the bags under my eyes subsided.
If it’s your first time in Paris, do not stay near the airport the entire trip and try to train in, thinking you’ll save a few euros. Stay near what you want to see, my universal travel rule. And look into renting an apartment if you really want to save. Continue reading