Rather than have my first trip overseas be to Russia–not a luxury destination–my parents amazingly accepted an invitation from our cousins to join them on a great airfare and hotel deal to go to Paris, France. My parents were never much for travel beyond our borders, especially where natural history destinations were not on tap, so this was out of character. Of course, now that they’ve got the taste of it, they made it to England years before me. Humpf.
Anyway, after the first of many demonstrations of why the L-1011, particularly in the middle five seats in coach class, is successfully used in torture by simply taking a long flight in one, we arrived in Paris. After staying up for 24 hours straight, we decided to wander the streets of Paris toward the Modern Art Museum, rather drunkenly. We came, we saw the deconstructionist facade, and we staggered back to our hotel–a Holiday Inn at Place de Republique, no less.
Afterwards, it was get up, eat breakfast (croissants and honey), hit the streets to see the next museum/building, argue about where to eat lunch, either eat at McDonald’s (my cousins claimed medical necessity, which was to some extent true) or split off for baguettes, which saved me, gastronomically speaking. I also hit the crêpes pretty hard, too.
I couldn’t convince my parents to spend the full USD 100 per person for a true Parisian evening meal, so we ended up having our best meals and wine at an Italian restaurant. Welcome to Paris on a budget. It’s worth noting that despite my year of college French, it was having my attractive blonde cousin along that eased our way along. I only had success ordering a sundae without nuts.
While we went in February, the off season, I found Paris to be quite polite, and certainly not hostile, if not openly friendly. I suspect the reputation is a bit overblown, and New York should worry more. On the other hand, I fully realize that seeing Paris is not the same as seeing France, so I hope someday to have some time to see the countryside. And eat more crêpes.