Teddy Out-Ready: Paris - Expectation vs. Reality #familytravel

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Paris - Expectation vs. Reality #familytravel

Teddy in Paris

The final post related to our trip to Paris is intended to compare what we expected to experience in Paris with what is really happened. These are top 10 items on our Expectation vs. Reality list:

1. People friendly to tourists.
As soon as we became a part of the tourist conglomerate of Paris, we realized that people who live in Paris are nice and friendly. It looks like the constant crowds of tourists which overload subways during rush hours and trying to ask something in English became pretty normal.

2. People are sincerely ready to help. We were surprised to see pickpocket warning signs at many major Paris attractions. The most active pickpocket locations are Louvre and Eiffel Tower. We found however that, in general, people in Paris are quite social and not much different from Toronto folks.

3. Streets and attractions are clean and well-cared.
Streets and attractions in Paris look good and clean. But if you check your shoes and clothes after few hours on Paris streets, you will find out that they are covered with thick layer of dust. It is probably the same level of dust you can get spending the same time on construction site.

Paris Eiffel Tower

4. Transportation is good and reliable.
Yes, transportation system in Paris is exceptional and very reliable. No delays, very short intervals between trains (buses), cover all city and far into suburbs, reasonable crowds even during rush hour. One small difference - RER and subway trains are quite narrow, there is a pair of seats on left and right sides and only 20 inches of walking line between them. There is no way to move stroller between the seats, let along to stay there. The only way to stay with a stroller is close to the door with all people who didn’t get a place to sit. Consider that you have to fold stroller and it's wheels are very dusty, there is a 99% chance that you touch someone with dusty wheels and get an angry look.
Paris Streets


5. Food in restaurants is the best in the world.
There is a common opinion that Paris is a culinary capital of the World. While eating out in many different places in Paris, we found that service is fast and friendly. The food was mostly incredible with some exceptions, when restaurants need to feed the crowds of tourists, there are big chances to have some "accidents". In one of the expensive restaurant Teddy found piece of plastic packaging with French words. They apologized, but charged us for everything except that dish anyway; even though we couldn’t eat anything after that discovery. I know that there are very good restaurants where you have to reserve table in advance, but there is no way to go there with toddler. Another way to go in rural areas where you can find authentic French cuisine. But if you a tourist and your goal is to check as many places as you can, then be ready for fast food with French touch. Many people like it too.

6. Groceries quality and taste better than in North America.
We agree 100% with this one. French milk and dairy products are so delicious. There are so many varieties of yogurts and cheeses and they all have amazing taste. I am wondering what is the difference between European and North American cows? Why we can not have the same taste for our products? Cheese also is significantly cheaper there. Raspberry and strawberry in Paris are very tasty and not even comparable to pick-you-own from local farms during the harvest season. They are pretty expensive, but they worth it. Of course, you can buy there cheap berries too, but they taste similar like the ones from our grocery stores.

Using stroller in Paris


7. Paris is a stroller accessible city.
NOT! In Paris you start to appreciate the amazing accessibility of Toronto. Buses without stairs that can go down to allow you roll a stroller inside. Subway elevators are on majority of stations. All public offices and tourist attractions are pretty much accessible by a stroller and a wheelchair.

Paris has another picture. In the subway’s web you have to walk a lot to get to other station passing many sets of stairs up and down. No elevators and very rare escalators. Same picture you can see at all main attractions (“Arc de Triomphe” is exception).

There are few elevators in Louvre but if you use them you can see only about 40% of available exhibitions, to see the rest - you have to use stairs. It was not big deal for us to fold and carry 11 pounds stroller, but I am very sorry for people in wheelchairs. For example, in order to see statue “Aphrodite of Milos” in Louvre, you have to use stairs.

Aphrodite of Milos Paris Museum Statue


8. Rooms in hotels are small and expensive.
We were able find a room in decent hotel close to Eiffel Tower for 2 adults and 1 child for price that 1.5 time more expensive than in similar hotel in Toronto. However, the room in Paris was 2-3 times smaller. The biggest surprise was a size of elevator in the hotel (approximately 20 by 50 inches). Only 2 average adults can fit there comfortably or 3 that very close to each other. Considering that 1 square meter of living surface in Paris costs from €10K to €15K – to own spacious apartment can afford only rich people.

Paris Street Performer

9. A lot of street performers.
There are a lot of street musicians, dancers and artists in Paris. Mostly in subway, RER and places where a lot of tourists. What surprised us is that almost all their activities have very little connection to Paris and France.

Paris Street


10. Apparel in Paris’ stores is fashionable and a good quality.
If you plan to go shopping in Paris you have to do really big homework. There are a lot of boutiques that sell clothes and souvenirs very poor quality. And price is not cheap either. So if you want to spend significant amount of money in Paris, do research how spend them wisely. Based on our experience – the best quality (and the most expensive) clothes that made in France or other EU countries and sold in official brand chain stores. Souvenirs are the best in official museums boutiques. As per style – in Paris almost everything looks stylish and you have to fight with yourself to don’t spend all your money right away. However when we came back, I regretted so many times that I didn’t buy that and that and those.

Paris Streets View 
 
Teddy in Paris Day 9: Seine Cruise and Shopping

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