Not Martha

My Vacation Slides: Paris Day 2, big impressive monuments, unexpected meetings, needing to pee

a cup of coffee with real cream

Cafe Creme from the place that would become our usual.

Day two in Paris we rose early-ish to eat Pain au Chocolate and use the (yes!) coffeemaker in our apartment. We were pokey in getting ready, though, so we decided to head out for a second breakfast. Thus our collective love affair with full fat dairy products began.

baguette as a butter delivery system

Growing up in the US one might not expect butter to be so worthy of being the primary breakfast ingredient. It so is.

apricot jam which was amazing

Even the apricot jam was amazing, and I’m not a jam person.

Then we were off. We spent the day walking first down towards the Seine where I spotted my first Invader just outside the St. Paul Metro station:

a Space Invader mural on a corner in Paris

Over to one of the islands, Ile Saint-Louis, where Maggi (lucky girl!) used to live.

narrow street on the Ile Saint-Louies

Then to Notre Dame, this is the back, notice how Scott appears to be texting while not staring in awe at the great cathedral?

Scott standing in front of Notre Dame, staring at his iPhone

Note: There are public restrooms on this side of Notre Dame. This can be a good thing to know.

a Notre Dame gargoyle as seen from directly underneath, daylight showing through the mouth hole

Then to the front, to confront our first crowd and go inside.

Notre Dame! exterior

Notre Dame! interior

I liked a lot of the designs I found inside:

my feet at a decorative grate

colored light on the floor that has come through a stained glass window

a pole in Notre Dame with a pleasant, almost arts and crafts decoration

As we were slowly winding our way around the interior of the cathedral with hundreds of others the PA system came on and a voice boomed the following message:


It was hilarious. Then he did it again. A small mass was starting and apparently the talking among the visitors was too much.

my feet at Kilometre Zero

When we went outside again I took a picture of my feet at Kilometre Zero, the point considered the official center of Paris.

When the French cover a building to do some work, they make it look nice like:

a scrim with a decoration of the building it is covering

Next we walked West along the Seine, up by the street. It was cold and rainy and vehicles rushed by and our view of the water was blocked by souvenir sellers and I was not at all happy. When we got to the Louvre we stopped to gawk at the exterior.

an entrance to the Louvre, with a pyramid showing through the arch

Cakespy and company!

Then we walked through the Tuileries and it was only a few moments before we came across Jessie Oleson of Cakespy, her husband Danny who is a musician extraordinare of Speaker Speaker (rip) and Exohxo, Nicole of Immortal Dog and her favorite boy Ramone. I tried to get the Eiffel Tower in the background there, you know for proof. Cakespy’s Paris reports have been fantastic, you’ll learn so very much about French pastries. Start here and move forward in time to find all her Paris entries (at the point this entry goes up I believe she’ll still have lots more to post). Later we talked about the idea that none of us are the type of people who just run into friends while in a foreign city. But I guess now we are?

Jessie told us that Cafe Angelina was not far away so we went over to get lunch and hot chocolate:

hot chocolate at Angeline, dont tell anybody but I didnt like it all that much

The waiter never brought our change, meaning he thought (knew?) we were stupid Americans. (More on tipping below.) We called it a life lesson and left.

my feet outside Angeline

My feet, feeling dejected and ripped off, outside Cafe Angelina. Not far away Jeff was taking a photograph of a French man wearing a bright orange suit arguing with the traffic cops.

Next we did something smart, we headed to the tourism office and bought museum passes. It’s a little pass that gets you into many Paris museums for a stretch of consecutive days (two, four or six). If you’re dedicated to seeing museums it can save a whole lot of money. And, there is often a separate line for pass holders so you save a lot of time and get to just waltz inside and flash your pass as you enter.

Velib bicycles, all lined up and ready to rent

We started walking East towards the Marais and home. We passed so many of these Velib bicycles, and saw so many people riding them, that I stopped to take a picture. The official Velib site is here and you can download the information in English, look for the British flag in the upper right hand corner of that page. We did not rent bicycles, partly because it never stopped drizzling while we were there, and partly because we were terrified of French traffic. But, it would have been lovely had we had sun and a route we knew would be nice.

Living in a hilly city I don’t really consider bicycles a mode of transportation that is right for me, though I have a lot of friends who bike all over Seattle. But Paris is mostly flat, something I hadn’t know beforehand, so walking and biking around it is really easy. Despite the crowds on the weekends I loved how people were out, everywhere, all the time. It was energizing and I really wish more cities in the US had car-unfriendly streets and such fantastic public transportation infrastructure that would allow for this much being out and around. I found the same to be true in Nottingham (which we visited a few days later into this trip).

invader mural #2

I photographed invader #2 while standing in a crush of people.

Somebody needed to pee so we found our way down into Les Halles. Les Halles is a shopping center located inside a very old market, and most of it is in the three below ground floors. It is a terrible place and we recommend you avoid going there at all costs. Later we found one of our guidebooks call it a “pit of humanity” (or something equally dramatic). I mean it’s just a shopping mall but it’s a cramped, dark shopping mall underground. And underground in Paris means the whole place smells funny. We eventually did find the restrooms only to discover that it costs 0,50 Euros to use it. We only had 20 Euro bills. One of us (the Hero Maggi) went to buy something and get change while the rest of us attempted to get the attendant to make change for a 20, then just stared sadly at all the people going in an out. It feels not good to be blocked from a restroom by a pittance that you don’t have.

Les Halles, which we now call Les Helles

These pay restrooms are apparently common, though we never came across another one. While they may seem unfair to us Americans often they are a far preferred alternative to older hole-in-the-floor style toilets. Knowing this it’s easier to hand over your change and be grateful for something that flushes.

invader mural #3, close to home

Invader #3 is close to the Paris Muji.

Afterward we set out to find a Philips head screwdriver somewhere on the way home. I suggested Muji, and nearby spotted my third invader. Muji Encounter #1 was disappointing, they were renovating the Paris store and had a smaller selection and, gasp, no kitchen items. We couldn’t find the screwdrivers (we did find them on a return visit, though a whole set would have had to be purchased). So we consulted the Lonely Plant Paris iPhone app, about $15 and very worth it more details below, and found that the nearby BHV, a large department store with, essentially, a Home Depot in the lower level. At this point it was crowded, we were hot, our feet hurt but we still needed groceries.

So we went to the grocery store and had fun examining strange new foods:

Miel Pops cereal

chorizo flavored potato chips

a container of gazpacho in with the orange juice

a tube of Nestle milk and sugar, for coffee?

bacon flavored potato chips

Strange trivia: The very next day Maggi and Jeff returned to the same Franprix grocery store to find it completely gutted, empty of all but shelf brackets. The shop showed no signs at all that it would be closing.

We took our ailing feet home, bought a few ingredients at the corner shop and cooked dinner in. The boys fell asleep on the couch:

the menfolk, fast asleep

We brought an extra down comforter out to the living room to use as a big blanket. I now always want a down comforter in my living room.

The stuff I learned the hard way

Tipping: You don’t tip in Paris the way we do in the US. The 12 to 15 percent is included in the bill (either as a separate item, or it’s rolled into the price of each menu item already). So, tipping isn’t necessary. According to both Maggi and the Lonely Planet Guide “many Parisians will leave a few coins on the table in a restaurant… they rarely tip in cafes and bars when they’ve just had a coffee or drink.”

Saying hello: Mary-lynn gave me some good advice before we left, when you walk into or out of a store or cafe take the greeting sincerely and respond. Unlike many places here, the Parisians mean the greeting (it’s not simply mandated by corporate guidelines). Ignoring this can hurt their pride and just like that you’re an Ugly American. For the sake of us all please don’t be an Ugly American! Clotilde Dusoulier from Chocolate & Zucchini gives the same advice in her (well worth it) book Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris.

Buying Museum Passes: We bought ours in the very tidy and not busy at all Paris Tourism Office, which we stumbled upon suddenly after wandering around looking for it. Here you can find city maps in all languages, buy transit passes of all sorts and buy museum passes for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days (the attendant dates your pass the first time you use it). The passes are well worth it as most museums have a separate entrance for pass holders that is far speedier. We didn’t wait at all to get into the D’Orsay or the Louvre. The pass unfolds and lists, in French and English, the museums it can be used at with a short description as well as their locations and hours.

Renting a bicycle: Velib is the company that has rental bicycles all over Paris. You see the stands everywhere and we saw people of all sorts using the bicycles. Like I mentioned above Paris is mostly flat so getting around is easy, though dodging cars and people might be less so. One warning, the automatic stands might not take creidt cards without the chip and pin system, but they do take cash. You can also pre-order online. The Velib site is in French with an English download (British flag, upper right), and you can read more at Wikipedia.

Groceries: We bought Bonne Maman brand yogurt at the grocery store, it’s comparable to buying Dannon for us, but it was so good. We kept buying it. And nearly brought our uneaten ones on the plane. I now weep at runny, skim milk, sickly sweet yogurt.

Lonely Planet Paris iPhone app: The Lonely Planet Paris app is, in my opinion, worth it for the Paris noob. It’s gotten a bunch of disappointed reviews because it doesn’t contain all the information and recommendations in the travel book itself. It does, however, have an offline GPS aware map. Meaning, you don’t use any data usage at all (and no data roaming) to find yourself on it’s map, which also gives you nearly restaurant/shopping/attractions. It’s well designed, you can click through a recommendation for, say, Laudree to find it on the map. Or just read the basics on neighborhoods and etiquette in restaurants and Paris history. Additionally, I felt like it may have made me look like a bit less of a tourist when staring at my phone instead of trying to orient a paper map (reality check: I wasn’t fooling anybody). And, it was nice to read about Paris as I was waiting in lines for the Eiffel Tower, or resting my poor feet inside a museum. There are a few other GPS aware maps and less expensive standalone apps which I bought, but only ever found myself using the Lonely Planet one. Some of the other maps were too low resolution, or didn’t have enough street information to be worth it.

Using your iPhone while traveling: I answered this question in the comments yesterday so please allow me to quote myself here. Megan (not myself!) asked if we used our iPhone in Paris, my response:

Yes we did use our phones, but sparingly. After researching it we decided that the best option was to pre-pay for a chunk of both voice and data roaming. You can keep track of your usage under Settings – General – Usage. Right when we arrived I reset that number so I could keep track of what we’d used. You can also get the international number from AT&T and phone them up to add data roaming mid-trip if you find you really need it. They add it to your bill.

Very important, whether you prepay or not, is to turn off Data Roaming, this is one of the things that gets people in trouble. Settings – General – Network – Data Roaming on/off switch. If you do need to use your phone to check a map/IMs or the internet go in and turn that on just for the period of time you’ll be using it. If I needed a map or an address, I often took a screenshot, then turned off Data Roaming again.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The pre-paid voice and/or data package is only good for your monthly billing cycle, not the actual month. So, while we paid for 20 MB of data roaming usage, our trip and our billing cycle overlapped in such a way that meant we could really only use up 10 MB. update: Jennifer in SF reports in this comment: “FYI – You can get the data international data package backdated to the start of your billing cycle, and thus get the full 20mb. Just don’t forget to call and have it taken off after your trip before it gets added to next month’s bill (not that that happened to me or anything!).” Thanks Jennifer!

For us the pre-paid stuff was useful, we did need it a few times and overall prepaying probably worked in our favor. But you can get by without it. One of the things we found out were GPS aware offline maps. Even though your phone isn’t on a network, it still knows where you are. The Lonely Planet Paris map used this feature and there are standalone GPS aware maps you can buy for a few dollars (some we found weren’t high enough resolution to be worth it). Depending on where you’re headed you might find them. Paris also has an offline Metro and RATP map that is free and so helpful.

Another option suggested to use was to buy chunks of wi-fi time from Orange Wireless and use them at any of the cafes that offer it — essentially you buy an hour or so and they give you a login. We had wi-fi at our apartment and that was all we needed, we researched before we left for the day.

There are lots of internet cafes with computers, at least in Paris, that can be useful and cheap.

One note, on the occasion when we did use our data roaming we found that opening up Twitter to pull down an update used a LOT of data, more than you’d expect. We think it was all the little people icons being loaded over and over.

Later Nazila (super fabulous woman and frequent world traveler) gave us a tip about using Skype:

Skype on your iphone is a lovely thing. I preloaded my phone with 10 bucks at the end of January, have been to London and Paris twice since then and still have five dollars in credit. I never turned on my data plan and very happy my hotel had free wi fi. The skype was key to reconfirm restaurant reservations while traveling.

Thank you Nazila!

Previously: Day One arrival and beating jet lag.

Next up: Day Three The Metro, a museum, and French onion soup.

· comments [50] · 03-4-2010 · categories:travel ·

50 responses so far ↓

  • 1 alexson // Mar 4, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Love your travel tips! I, too, have an abnormal obession with exotic chip flavors. Did I see chorizo in that pile? Ver-y interesting.

  • 2 meaghan (chic cookies) // Mar 4, 2010 at 8:51 am

    fantastic! was just in paris in november, so this is a lovely re-visit. And I’ve been following jessie’s musings, too, so I love that you all ran into each other. Sigh. so wish I was in paris now instead of vacuuming!

  • 3 amy // Mar 4, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Here in Amsterdam, they cover building construction and restoration in the same way! The façade of the central train station has been covered for something like a year now, and if you stand back far enough, you can barely tell that it’s a giant screenprinted tarp.

    Also, public toilets are almost always pay toilets here, even in train stations. Germany is the same, as far as I know. I have a few 20 and 50 cent coins that never leave my wallet, just in case!

  • 4 punkrawkknitter // Mar 4, 2010 at 9:05 am

    So jealous that you were in Paris, I want to go back so bad! Do you have Liberté yogurt in the States? We have it here in Canada and it’s creamy and full fat. Their Dulche du Leche flavours is ridiculously good!

  • 5 Renai // Mar 4, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I am loving these posts!

  • 6 megan // Mar 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Punkrawkknitter – I don’t know if we have Liberte yogurt here, I’ll keep an eye out. Maybe in specialty shops? Thanks so much for the tip (and forgive my laziness at not finding the character for the e with the little mark over it, I blame the jet lag).

  • 7 Monique // Mar 4, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Thanks so much.. I love hearing of your trip..In Italy the restrooms we used were mostly pay by the visit also..Even for holes in the ground:)
    We hope to visit Paris one day.

  • 8 Lisa // Mar 4, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Thanks for all the pictures and trips. I want to go to Paris next year.

    We have an Invader in our Houston, TX neighborhood. I always wondered about it and had no idea that they were around the world.

  • 9 megan // Mar 4, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Lisa – An Invader in Houston, that’s cool. Did you read that there is on on each of the letters in the Hollywood sign?

  • 10 Tina // Mar 4, 2010 at 10:08 am

    The hole-in-the-floor style toilets are the worst! There was one in a restaurant in Italy, that when I pushed the button on the wall to flush, water swooshed all over the floor, and all over my shoes! I went shopping immediately for a new pair, and threw the old ones out. Ewwwww!

  • 11 Jessica // Mar 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

    My husband and I learned just as you did about iphones out of the country. We went to Italy for our honeymoon and paid beforehand for an international plan just for that month with AT&T and it helped but the minute we’d turn on roaming we were bombarded with the phone trying to catch up emails and texts. It was hopeless.

    That bread and butter makes me want to lick my screen.

    And oh boy do I know what you mean with the yogurt. SO good. Why do we not make yogurt like that here???

  • 12 Shayna // Mar 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I had always hated yogurt and didn’t care so much for butter and then I moved to Bordeaux for a year. I think I probably ate more than a lifetime’s allotment that year and still managed to lose a good 10 lbs because of the smaller portions and constant walking.

    I love your photos…and that apartment looks amazing.

  • 13 wendy // Mar 4, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Note re: bathrooms. The hubby and I took a European vacation and the ONLY time I had to pay for a toilet, it was in Istanbul and turned out to be one of those porcelain pit toilets that don’t flush. Ack! We also found the toilets in Prague to be a little strange, but at least they were seat-height and flushed!

  • 14 Seanna Lea // Mar 4, 2010 at 10:56 am

    We have Liberte yogurt in many of the better grocery stores in the Boston area, so hopefully it is on the other coast as well. I love how rich it is (definitely a treat), but normally forgo it for greek style yogurt. Dannon is way too watery for my tastes!

  • 15 Susan // Mar 4, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Love your posts! We’ve also started staying in apartments when we travel to Europe. We stayed in Monmartre last summer. Once you got away from Sacre Coure, there were no crowds which made it very relaxing. Have you been to the Paris Grocery (run by the folks who own The Spanish Table) – I bet they have good yogurt, and butter, too!

  • 16 Jeannette // Mar 4, 2010 at 11:19 am

    We learned the tipping thing the hard way also. The other thing, there is a difference in price whether you choose to sip your coffee standing up a the counter or sitting down. If you sit down, the price goes up $$.

  • 17 carol // Mar 4, 2010 at 11:50 am

    am loving your travelogue on paris, as i’ve never been there. i want to taste the yogurt! i eat straus creamery yogurt here in sf, which claims to be “european style”…i buy the big tub and have it with jam or granola. is it available in seattle? would be curious how it compares…

  • 18 Paola // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Re. pay restrooms. They’re getting less common in the UK but the rationale behind them is that it keeps undesirables from going in and trashing them without having to pay an attendant (they could do with pay bathrooms in Gasworks Park). So just think of them as fancy locks which anyone should have the key to open.

    Europeans don’t generally have a problem as European-style wallets generally include somewhere for coins, we don’t just put them in a pot on the nightstand. (Come to think of it maybe the difference between European and American wallets is due to the pay toilet proliferation?)

    The best thing to do when you’re caught short anyway is just to pop into a cafe. You should buy a coffee or water for politeness sake, but the restrooms are generally cleaner and free.

  • 19 Hillary // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Most of the parks in Paris now have free wi-fi, so a good place to go use the internet on your phone.

  • 20 Heidi // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    great travelogue! Have you tried Strauss European style yogurt? Not sickly sweet at all – I like the maple whole milk version. If you want to try Liberte, I’ve seen it at the Westlake Whole Foods.

  • 21 betty // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    hmmm… the whole peeing thing….don’t mean to be a nosy parker… but you’re not in the family way, are you? (wink wink nudge nudge…)
    Thank you, by the way, for the travelogue. Your pictures are lovely, and I similarly obsess about things such as, oh, the perfect boot, skirt, etc. I’m sure you did us ‘mericans proud while you were on your adventure.

  • 22 ana // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    When I went to Paris on a school trip (more than half a life time ago!) you could go up and walk on the roof. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t get vertigo. Can you still do that? Did you give it a go?

  • 23 anna // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    If you miss full-fat yogurt, try making your own, it’s easy! Especially if you use a yogurt maker, but you can even do it without.

  • 24 megan // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Betty – Not in a family way, just have the capacity of a walnut. There were a few other need to pee mishaps on this trip, but not nearly as many as I’d worried about.

    Thank you thank you so much to everybody who is including such great information. I feel all ready to take on more world travels!

  • 25 Sarah // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    This little log is bringing back such good memories for me. Thank you!

    As for yogurt, Trader Joe’s sells full fat yogurt in individual servings (but packed in a six pack) in 4 flavors (blueberry/vanilla and strawberry/banana I think) and I LOVE them. I bought them for my toddler when he was just starting on solid food as full fat dairy is recommended for little ones and fell in love. Creamy, not runny at all, and just over 100 calories per container I think.

    And I totally wish the Velib stands took cash when we were there! They were credit card only and our US cards didn’t work. We had a tour guide who rode one to and from our little walking tour and he made it look like fun.

  • 26 Jill // Mar 4, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you for making a would-be traveler to Paris think that I too can navigate my way around!

  • 27 megan // Mar 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Jill – Paris is so written about, and just tourist friendly enough that we had little trouble once we got acquainted with the city layout.

    Ana – I don’t know. It was so rainy and cold that it wouldn’t have occurred to us to wonder about it. Should I ever return I’ll try to find my way up.

  • 28 jo-anne // Mar 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Chorizo chips – when I go in April, I may never leave!!

    It was Clotilde’s Edible Adventure book that started is all for me. My girlfriend gifted it to me for Christmas and it was a lovely, lovely read!

    I’ve been using the Zuti Paris app and it’s one of the ones that figures out Metro lines w/o data/wifi access. I don’t know yet if it locates you without them as well. I’ll have a serious look at the Lonely Planet app as well.

    Thanks again for all of this very valuable information!

  • 29 maria jose // Mar 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I have never seen chorizo chips in Spain, where I live, and it’s funny since chorizo is sooo Spanish. Fun they also have Alvalle Gazpacho, it’s excellent.

    My favorite French yogurt is the “veloute” kind. So creamy and silky…yum!

  • 30 Jennifer // Mar 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I am loving reading about your trip to Paris. I love to go to grocery stores in other places (I get a lot if teasing about this) but it is interesting. Can’t wait to hear more!

  • 31 April G. // Mar 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Sweetened condensed milk in a tube?!?! I wish we had that here!

  • 32 Nancy // Mar 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Eating up every detail of your Paris visit–it’s (almost) as fun as being there! I especially appreciate your perspective & attention to the interesting details. Keep it coming!

  • 33 Erica // Mar 4, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Those breakfast photos are wonderful and so enticing.
    As to tipping, it is sort of hard to grasp (after 17 years I think I got it – maybe) BUT it if you like the service you should leave a tip. Depending on the style of the restaurant and the level of service you will leave more or less. Usually about 5% is a good guideline. Of course, if you hate your server, you leave nothing.

  • 34 jennifer in sf // Mar 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    FYI – You can get the data international data package backdated to the start of your billing cycle, and thus get the full 20mb. Just don’t forget to call and have it taken off after your trip before it gets added to next month’s bill (not that that happened to me or anything!).

  • 35 justJENN // Mar 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    That picture of the bread and butter is killing me. YUM.

  • 36 Susan O. // Mar 4, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Île Saint-Louis. With an “s”.

  • 37 megan // Mar 4, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Susan O. – Yikes, though the s was there. Gah, now my typos are turning into misspelling, why do I even bother?

  • 38 Susan O. // Mar 4, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Just curious…why was using your iphone, wifi, connectivity in general so important to you while on a rather brief vacation?
    The “poulet braisé” flavor of chips made me think of Mme. de Belleville, with whom I lived in Paris. She would make a rotisserie chicken and near the end, put potato chips on the bottom of the pan to brown and catch the fat! It was one of my favorite meals!!

  • 39 jo-anne // Mar 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I forgot to add earlier that the photos of the butter smeared baguette and apricot jam made me groan out loud. Good thing there was no one else in the office at the time!

  • 40 megan // Mar 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Susan O – I suspect it appears to you as a larger deal than it actually was to me. On this website I tend to throw a lot of energy into the things I wish I’d known beforehand in the hopes that it will save somebody else time or trouble. I’m a bit obsessed with sharing information that I spend time seeking out myself that I feel should have been easier to research. Tons of stuff on “where to eat/shop/view/walk/drink in Paris” has been published but finding out about GPS aware maps was a lot more work.

    I’m also obsessed with maps and having one on my phone that could tell me where I was standing is just cool.

  • 41 Mary-Lynn // Mar 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Megan, it is so much fun to read your accounts! I’m glad you had a good time. This is all making me look forward to my (hopefully) return trip this fall.

    And, going back a post, my rental apartment also had a glossy red WC – and the rest of the apartment was quite cool whites. Must have been “a thing” or something!

  • 42 megan // Mar 4, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Mary-Lynn – I’m forming a fantasy where this fabulous gay couple owns a few apartments in Paris and has a thing about red WCs. I hope you have an amazing time on your return trip, I’m officially jealous of you! Now that I have the general outline of the city I’m eager to return and see what else I can find.

  • 43 Tonia // Mar 5, 2010 at 5:10 am

    I am sooooooooooooooooooooooo jealous. Looks like you guys are having a great time, great photos too.

  • 44 katy // Mar 5, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Thanks so much for introducing me to Invaders! I’m going to look for them on my next visit to Paris. So very cool.

  • 45 heather // Mar 6, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    thank you so much!! my husband & i are planning a trip to paris this coming may and i have NO idea where to begin. it’s like you wrote this just for me! i will be coming back to this gem of a post often.

  • 46 Stephanie // Mar 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    We “hack” our iPhones so we can use them in France the same way we use them here in the US. Email if you want deets. All you have to do is buy a sim card at any Orange store in France. It keeps us out of a lot of trouble (we learned the hard way) and it is such a dream to use our iPhones all the time…

  • 47 tiffany // Mar 7, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    We got 7-day passes for the Velib bikes when my bf and I were in Paris. Completely worth it, once I got over my fear of being crushed between two Parisian busses (and those traffic circles…oy!). And oh-dear-god-yes to that hot chocolate at Angelina’s. Some of the most amazing stuff on Earth!!!

  • 48 tiffany // Mar 7, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Oh, and PS. We learned that the Velib bikes only take cards containing a microchip. For us Americans, that’s American Express. Mine worked there like a champ!

  • 49 Janie La Pierre // Mar 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Many things similar to Italy. The bathroom thing drove me craZy!
    I read Rick Steves book and he was right-on about many things. In Italy you may get charged if you SIT in a cafe, standing is free.
    These are the little things everyone needs to find out before you travel overseas. Also, if your debit card will work, we were told ours would and didn’t. Debit cards and credit cards charge a surcharge on everything when used, usually 3%. Capitol One is one of the few that does not.

  • 50 Tim // May 21, 2010 at 7:59 am

    One tip for smartphone users traveling internationally — Boingo Wireless offers a plan called “Boingo Mobile” that grants unlimited wifi access around the world for about $8 per month. I’ve never had to look too hard for a useful hotspot in England, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore (also the US). As an extra bonus, this works on the iPad as well.

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