A friend dropped off a book for me to enjoy Intoxicating Southern France: Uncorking the Magic in the French Riviera, Provence, Languedoc, Dordogne, and Bordeaux. It’s a great travel book that reads more like a novel than a sparsely worded, bulleted list of a guide book. In addition to a historical narrative (which I need and love) this book tells you a little bit about the food, wine, art, shopping and culture of each of the regions it covers.
Travel books matter. I just came home from a few weeks in Europe and I had no interest in getting a cell phone plan. First of all they’re expensive, secondly I didn’t want my cell phone alerts to distract me from experiencing the places I was visiting. This means that I frequently had to rely on books rather than electronic files.
I asked PJ Adams for a few tips about visiting Paris and here’s what she had to say:
1. Get a Paris Museum Pass. You can buy 2, 4, or 6-day museum passes for a nominal fee that will get you into more than 60 Paris museums and monuments. You’ll breeze right through the entry points since there’s no waiting to buy tickets and no long lines.
2. Try an Inexpensive Walking Tour of Paris. Several walking tour operators like Paris Walks and Discover Walks offer local-expert, low-cost walking tours night and day through various prime areas of Paris such as Montmartre, Marais, the Left Bank, and more. These are great for getting oriented, learning about key Paris locales, and for picture taking.
3. Say hello (bonjour), goodbye (au revoir) and thank you (merci) in French each time you enter and exit a Paris establishment. Parisians see their places of work as extensions of their homes; they will find you unintentionally rude if you neglect these niceties. Even if you speak no other French this will help you make a connection. Learning a few other key French terms can help you in specific situations for example when shopping (I need a different size: Je besoin d’une taille différente), telling a taxi where you need to go (please take me to XYZ hotel: S’il vous plaît prenez-moi à XYZ hotel). Even if you can’t say whole French phrases, it helps to know a little French vocabulary like sortie (exit), chaussures (shoes), l’addition (bill or bar tab), and epicerie (grocery).
4. Avoid on the street ATMs in Paris. Go inside the bank to get money from ATMs. On the street ATM thieves sometimes put card readers in the curb-side ATM machines to steal your card numbers.
5. Get Smart about Thwarting Paris Pick Pockets. Stay alert, keep your money in a money belt or secure purse strapped across your front with your hand on top, and learn these common ploys: The Diversion (one pick pocket draws your attention to something while the other one robs you), The Selfie Trick (one thief pretends to take a cell phone picture and while you wait their partner robs you), and The Metro Buzzer Trick (when the buzzer rings to close the train door, the thief grabs your purse or phone and slips out the door as it closes). Best of all, learn to say arretez vous (stop you) to anyone who’s bothering you or getting too close. AND make friends with your local gendarmes (who will be only too glad to help).
PJ Adams is the best-selling author of Intoxicating Paris: Uncorking the Parisian Within and Intoxicating Southern France.