Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When in Rome...

We've all heard that Parisians are rude.  I don't believe there are any more rude people there than anywhere else.  I do believe that the French take their culture seriously - and why shouldn't they?  It's their home and we should respect that.

With all the reading I've done over the last year the one thing that I've read over and over again is this:  when you enter any place of business, whether it be a restaurant, a grocery store, or the local boulangerie (bakery) make the effort to say "Bonjour Madame/Monsieur" and the same can be said for leaving - say "Au revoir". Think of the person as hosting you in their establishment.  It's almost like going to someone's home.  No matter how bad your french, make the effort and it will appreciated.

The following article talks about this and other things:  Visiting Paris? Follow These Rules.

Friday, August 13, 2010


The three of us, my husband, son and I love to travel.  I was raised by parents who loved travel and was fortunate to do quite a bit of it as a kid. When I was a teenager my parents and I went to France for a month.  When  my husband and I got married, we went to France on our honeymoon for 3 weeks.  We also detoured to Belgium (hated Brussels - bad experience unfortunately, loved Bruges!), Amsterdam and Luxembourg.

We've taken many family vacations over the years.  In the last 6 years we've taken 3 cruises and been to Mexico 3 other trips all to escape the nasty Canadian winters.  We go to California at least once a year as my husband is from there and his kids (they're grown) live there.  It's really no wonder my son Alex who is 16 loves to travel.  When he was a little younger I remember him asking "so where are we going this year?". 

Although I'm a fan of visiting different places, it's not just about the place.  I have never, and will never be a history buff.  I don't really care what happened there...that sounds bad but it is what it is.  Different architecture is lovely to look at but to me travel is about the "feel" of a new place, the culture, the people, the food.

A few weeks ago I had an epiphany (one of my favorite words, besides anvil - don't ask).  I decided that I'd like Alex to join Margaret and I in Paris for 10 days at the end of our visit.  Being that he's 16 I know I only have a few more years with him at home and our family vacations.  I really want to show him Paris.  We have fun together.  He and Margaret know each other.  I asked him if he wanted to come and of course he answered yes right away.  (A few days after that he asked me why I ASKED him and what made me think he wouldn't be interested lol) I booked his airline ticket a couple of days ago, so it's official.  I'm thrilled that he's coming and looking forward to it.


Thursday, August 12, 2010


Over the last year I've done a lot of reading about Paris and France in general.  Book-wise I've read what would be considered travel literature.  It's been interesting to learn the dos and dont's of the culture from a newbie perspective.  It also helped me focus on something other than losing my job.

Here are a few of my favorites:

C'est la Vie by Suzy Gershman

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

A Town Like Paris by Bryce Corbett

I've also spent a lot of time reading blogs written by expats living in Paris.  It's been a great way to find out about where to shop, where to eat etc.

This is by no means the complete list of the blogs I follow:

A Year of Change  - Gina writes about her family's adventures when her husband's job takes them to Paris for what was supposed to be a year's stay.  What started out as the blog of a stranger, Gina and I have become friends.  :)

An American at Home in Paris

Colleen's Paris Blog

I Prefer Paris

Peter's Paris

Secret's of Paris

HiP Paris Blog

From all my research I've started a notebook.  I have sections on shopping, restaurants and to do's.  Within each section I will be organizing by arrondissement (neighborhood).  At least that's the plan.  I have a ton of bookmarks on my computer as well, which I have to go through.  Hey, gives me something to do before the trip n'est ce pas!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Decision

My best friend Margaret, who worked at the same place I did was also a victim of lay-off.  About a year ago when we knew lay-offs were imminent she told me she was thinking of going to France for to learn French. The lightbulb went off over my head.  We talked and decided it would be a fun adventure for the two of us. In a month she and I will be flying to Paris to spend 5 glorious weeks.

Although she will be taking French courses part time I will spend my time as a woman of leisure.  She is registered for classes three mornings a week, so we'll still have plenty of time together.  We are not staying at the same place.  She was able to get student housing and I have rented an apartment.

The apartment hunt hasn't been a lot of fun.  September is still considered high season and I had a list of criteria the length of my arm.  I spent many many hours researching online.  There are a ton of agency and non-agency websites where you can peruse one apartment after another.  I finally nailed down a place through http://www.parisattitude.com/.  They've been great to deal with.  The only downer is the added fees.  There is an agency fee, a cleaning fee, insurance (mandatory in France), and cost of utilities is also extra.  My suggestion to anyone looking for an apartment would be to start early!

View Larger Map

The area looks promising.  It's in the 4th Arrondissement.  There are a lot of cafe/restaurants nearby, not to mention shopping.    The apartment itself is small, but that's standard there.  It's a studio alcove, so it has a living room area and a bedroom area which was important to me.  I didn't want to have to make up a pull-out couch every day for 5 weeks.   It also has a large terrace with a table and chairs so I can step outside to drink my tea in the morning. 


Friday, August 6, 2010

Start at the Beginning

After a really tough year at work, the lay-off notices arrived.  I'd been working there 26 years and was one of many to be laid-off.  It was a tough 13 months leading up to my last days.  I went through a lot of emotions, both good and bad, but felt really good when I walked out of my cubicle for the last time.  The sadness I felt that last day was about the people I worked with.  I knew I would miss them.

It's been just over 4 months and I have to say the lay-off was a good thing.  You don't realize how stressed out you are until the stress is gone.  I've been enjoying my time off...a lot!  Although I haven't been doing all that much, I have filled a lot of my time planning a trip...but that will be my next entry...

...till then