Beware of these 4 things in Paris.

So…I love Paris. No surprise there.

eiffel tower jump

However, I must say that there are a few things about the city that I just don’t get.

1. Lack of public restrooms.

This was occasionally so challenging that it finally became funny. Josh downloaded the “toilet finder” app, and that helped a little, but the app wasn’t always accurate. I started to wonder if there were secret bathrooms that only Parisians know about? Something to research for our next trip…

2. Sundays.

Wow, I forgot about Sundays in France. Everything is closed.

Everything.

As a tourist, this is a toughie. You really need to plan ahead here. Stock up on foodstuffs the day before, and carefully consider your activity choices. Confirm and reconfirm.

Good luck.

3. Les Vacances.

Sigh. Did you know that everyone in France goes on vacation during the month of August?

vacances 3

We were thwarted by these little signs in windows so many times that I lost count.

vacances 2Everyone was away, enjoying their vacations.

vacances 1

Not that I could blame them – I was trying to do the same exact thing.

4. Dead birds.

Seriously – what is up with all of the dead birds in Paris? They are everywhere. I’ll spare you the photos, but believe me when I tell you that something weird seems to be going on here.

Have you been to Paris recently? Or are you going soon? Do you have anything to add to this list?

Comments

  1. Going in January with my girlfriend and I’m SO glad you posted about Sundays in Paris. We will be arriving on Saturday so we’ll have to stock up ASAP when we get there. THANKS!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Patrick – Yes! There are also Sunday markets open until about 2 pm (I just wrote a post about this), and a few restaurants, but it definitely pays to do research beforehand. Hope you have a great time!

  2. So glad your trip was wonderful — and, over all, a resounding success for all your planning!

    As to Paris being “closed” on Sunday: It’s not just Paris, it’s basically all of Europe.

    When I moved to Germany in the 70s, no store stayed open later than 1 PM on Saturday (weeknights until 6 PM and sometimes one “late” evening until 8). Sunday shopping is still unheard of excepting for 3 or 4 Sundays a year where shops in some towns are allowed to be open! And, in Austria, most stores still close at 1 p.m. on Saturday / never open on Sunday either.

    Forget Sunday shopping in Europe — that’s meant to be a family day, including for sales personnel.

    And, yes, the French do faithfully take their vacations in August — generally no body in Paris except for the tourists. (Maybe so many dead birds because there’s no one around to feed them / LOL!)

  3. I was in Paris last August for my honeymoon. It was late-August so the city was ramping back up to life by that point. About half of the Michelin-rated restaurants were closed at the time.

    I believe that it’s out of fear of being politically incorrect, but the one thing that guidebooks don’t say explicitly about Paris in August is that the city is mobbed with people from Asia. They might say that the city has lots of “tourists” in August, but you are left to assume that it will mostly be Americans doing their darnedest to act french. It is anything from that case.

    Let me preface this by saying that, when I say “Asian”, I do not mean Asian-American, I mean people who live in the continent of Asia. Their emerging economies are creating first-generation tourists they have yet to get the lesson on being a good tourist, or experience the shame of being labeled the equivalent of an “Ugly American”. This is the real issue; and what I’m about to write is not mean to be taken as any prejudice against the race itself.

    When we were walking to our hotel the first night, we noticed lots (and I mean LOTS) of people sleeping on the sidewalks and first thought they were homeless people. It seemed odd that a city like Paris would have a homeless problem, but we then realized that they were all Asian tourists who didn’t want to pay for a hotel room. The quaint Parisian lanes are less picturesque when they turn into tent villages.

    And then there are the restaurants, the ones that are open in August are mobbed with “tourists”. We had one dinner where everybody in the room were Asians besides us and the waiter. They were all talking loudly, taking pictures of every…. single… plate, flagging down the waiter within a minute of getting the menu (and by “flagging down”, I mean literally standing on their chair waving their arms). The food was still good, but the atmosphere didn’t have the quiet, relaxed slow-paced parisian vibe you travel there to experience.

    And then there are the sights, all of the big-name sights (The Louvre, Versailles, etc.) have tour buses that drop the “tourists” off and a guide escort them around. This creates globs of slow-moving humanity that impede the flow of traffic for everybody else. I’m sure this problem exists at any time of the year, but the sheer number of tour groups in August was monstrous. I believe that most Americans and Europeans prefer to travel independently, whereas Asains love utilizing tour groups. However, once you go to any sight that isn’t a “go to”, there are absolutely zero tour groups. Hint: I don’t think news of the Musee D’Orsay has yet to reach China.

    I am glad that Asians are becoming affluent enough to enjoy traveling, but they are currently behind the curve when it comes to traveling etiquette. The good news for Americans traveling to Paris is that, because of this, we look good by comparison and the French welcome us with open arms.

    All of this being said, the next time I travel to Paris, it will be any month besides August.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Patrick – Interesting. I didn’t notice this when we were there – but it is also possible that I was totally distracted by my kids and everything else around me 🙂

      And agree about August – next time I’m sticking to October.

    • @Points Pixie, I enjoy reading your TR, especially about my favorite city Paris! Look forward to future reports!

      @Patrick- Would you care to elaborate on what you mean by “Asian” in your comments. There are over 40 countries in Asia continent and for you to make a very broad generalization of an entire race is rather regrettable.

      Being an Korean-American, I can see your point about the difference between Asians from the continent and Asian-Americans, in terms of travel etiquette and public behaviors. But to lump the entire Asian tourists as being too poor enough to get a hotel room for their stay in Paris appear racially prejudice. Last time I visited Paris, I saw a diverse group of tourists from Asia- Japanese, mainland Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Indian, Hong Kong Chinese, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia. Citizens from these countries come from many economic background, mostly from middle class or above. Yet your comments make to paint all Asians as poor homeless tourists.

      With regards to their travel etiquette, a typical generalization/stereotype do no justice. Although you see a great number of mainland Chinese tourists crowding the tourist city like Paris in recent years, many tourists from Asia are not typically “first generation” tourists as you have mentioned. Since the 90s (during the economic boom), the citizens from the so-called Asian Tiger economies (Taiwan, HK, Singapore, and S. Korea) in addition to the Japanese, have enjoyed international travels including to Europe. Although their travel etiquette may not be similar, I have not experienced them being so rude and loud in public places to be unbearable. Having lived and visited many countries in Asia, I have experienced what you have experienced in Paris in China mostly. Although mainland Chinese are slowly waking up to the notion of public etiquette, I still frequently see them being loud and loitering in public places even on their home soil. I too try to avoid them if possible, but I try to take cultural context into consideration before I jump into any stereotypical conclusion.

      On some level, I share your pain because living in Asia (Far East Asian countries), it affords no slow pace of living, because there are a high number of people wherever you go. It is very difficult to have your own personal space other than in your home. It is a constant competition and chaos, especially in shopping malls and common marketplace. But, as I have stated above, for you to make comments about all Asian tourists under the general stereotypes you have described demonstrate your cultural deficiency/awareness.

      Lastly, I would advise you visit Death Valley and Grand Canyon during the winter season. Typically you would see a string of tour buses filled with Europeans and their excitement over seeing the Wild Wild West.

  4. eponymous coward says:

    If you’re in Paris in January, be aware that New Year’s Day AND Epiphany/Twelfth Night, everything in the universe will be closed.

  5. I used to have a job where I traveled to Europe (mostly Germany) and stayed for 3 weeks at a time. Sundays could indeed be challenging. Luckily, I had friends there that often included me in their Sunday plans—a meal at their homes or a Sunday scenic drive. A couple of times though, I really needed to buy something when all stores were closed. I figured out that the grocery store at the airport and the train station were open. Their prices were a little higher, but in a pinch, it worked.

  6. There are tons of public restrooms in Paris, they are called McDonalds. If you are not a customer they charge about .5 euro. Also, if a restaurant or bistro is crowded enough just walk in there and go.

    • Scott, much love 🙂 Your post brought back a lot of great memories!!

      20ish years ago, during my year abroad in France…we spent the first month in Paris. At FIAP. Which was interesting, lol.

      They had these amazing Paris maps that listed every single Mcdonalds in Paris. And I mean every single Mcdonalds!

      No matter our backgrounds, rich or poor, greek house or not…everyone in the SLU France group that year took the map and used it for exactly that reason: location of a bathroom!!!

      I wonder if someone still makes those maps. I referenced mine so much that it ripped into about 12 different pieces, impossible to save.

      Just a thought: if you have a little kid back home that stayed with the grandparents, make your “use the bathroom” fee a purchase of one of the Happy Meal toys. (let’s be honest. not sure how many 3 year olds appreciate a book from the Louvre or an Eiffel Tower statue. but a happy meal toy? all the way from Europe? priceless 🙂 and….bathroom break for the adult!)

  7. Points Pixie says:

    Scott – Ha! We actually used the McDonald’s tip in Barcelona!

  8. P.S. to Pixie Dust.

    That photo of you jumping in front of the Eiffel Tower….

    Totally and completely AWESOME!!!

    Who is jealous? ME!

  9. We visited Paris for Bastille Day last year. Mobs and mobs of people drinking and eating, waiting for the fireworks: and NO PUBLIC TOILETS!! I have a 5 and 7 year old, and we asked several police where they could use the bathroom, and they would just shake their head. We had a great time, regardless, but just couldn’t believe such a big public event had no port-a-potties.

  10. Thank you for being so candid! When planning a trip it is hard to find honest reviews and information which can make or break a trip for me – especially when travelling with a child.

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