Doing My Homework

“The best thing about a vacation is planning it.”

Andy Rooney

 

With twelve months of anticipation to enjoy, I’ve fed my Paris obsession by stalking the France forum on Trip Advisor. What began as a once-in-a- while check became a daily check-in as summer rolled around.

 

Reading it is an education in all things Paris, and it seems no question lies there unanswered for long. Travelers love to advise other travelers, and say, “Here’s what we did.” A couple folks, with time on their hands and knowledge to share, respond to nearly every post. Just who is the guy who calls himself Kerouac? And is HappyGoin really that happy? Don’t know, but they sure know their Paris.

 

Some posts deal in minutia: “If I get off at the blah-blah Metro stop, do I walk left or right to get to Rue de la La-la-la?” Really, you’d go on a France forum for that? Why not look at a map, or ask the gentleman carrying home his baguette?

 

Other questions are wildly general and pretty darn stupid. “My boyfriend and I are going to Paris. What sights should we see there?” I roll my eyes at these dumb bunnies, but the kindly Kerouac patiently suggests buying a guide book, googling Paris sights, and figuring out what you would like to see or do.

 

Still, there’s plenty of useful info. Never rent from an outfit called Paris Attitude. Seems they really do have an attitude. Don’t eat at a cafe that has a “tourist menu” posted outside, unless you want over-priced faux French frites. And don’t try to zip through the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower in one afternoon.

 

Is it uncool to wear gym shoes?(Not that I would ever…) Well, as long as they’re not the big white ones, it’s fine. You have “American” stamped on your forehead anyway, so you might as well be comfortable. Strap on that fanny pack, grab that Big Gulp water bottle, unfold that tablecloth-sized map, and enjoy.

 

As for tips, a euro, maybe two is plenty … really! In Paris, cafes pay les garcons a decent salary, and it’s only the Americans who have been guilted into tipping. Of course, it’s best not to ask le garcon if tip is included. He might be “confused“ by your question and say “non”.

 

Avoid petition girls, who’ll ask you to sign their clipboards while their accomplices are stealing your wallet. Please don’t contribute to the Love Lock epidemic. Parisians despise the clods junking up of their lovely bridges. And, oh yeah, at a laundromat, put your coins in a central box; there are no coin slots on the machines themselves.

 

Armed with this insider knowledge and my sturdy cross-body bag, I’m just about ready to go.

 

 

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