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Oh la la! C’est la vie… A Weekend Getaway in Paris

Champ de Mars

My cousin and her family came to Europe with her family, taking advantage of a school trip her daughters’ high school coordinated. They wanted to see Paris (not included in the school’s itinerary) and decided to stay a few extra days to visit the City of Lights. She told us months in advance, so we had time to plan accordingly and find very cheap flights. This was the second time Alexis and I visited Paris. Since the first time was  was during winter, we were very excited to see the city during a different season. We prepared for the worst: July tends to be crowded with tourists and be very hot. However, we were lucky, because even though there were more more tourists than during our last visit, it wasn’t super crowded. Maybe it had to do with the weather, it was drizzling and cloudy which was perfect. It was not too hot, I would say the weather was very pleasant (again we prepared to super-hot, so this was quite refreshing). It did rain a lot on Sunday, but everything happens for a reason… since we had to stop at a restaurant in Montmartre and have a drink while waiting for the rain to subside. There, we met a nice lady who was vacationing with her son and daughter. She happen also be from Puerto Rico (like us), so we immediately exchanged contact information.

With my cousin in front of St. Michel’s fountain (Latin Square, Paris, France)

I wonder why some people (mostly Americans) say the French are rude. I can’t think of a more common and wrong stereotype than this. Sometimes I even hear people who had never set foot on France repeating this same fallacy. My experience has been completely the opposite. While in Paris we found nothing but nice people who tried their best to help us. I strongly believe that if the basic rules of courtesy are followed and one treat people the same way one wants to be treated, then chances are we’ll encounter less “rude” people in our path. Showing respect for another culture means to enjoy what it offers, rather than looking for familiar signs or comparing with how things are done back home. The reality is that you will find polite people and rude people in every country, city, and street on Earth. No matter where you go, no matter who you talk to, if you are rude, they will be rude back.  If you visit a country that doesn’t speak English, you should make the effort to learn a few words in their language. Imagine the other way around, a French tourist shows in New York and start speaking in French because no one understands a word he is saying so then he starts to raising his voice and gets angry when people ignores him. This tourist then returns to France and tells all his friends how rude the Americans are.  Sounds familiar? No one expects you to be fluent, but learning how to say Bonjour Monsieur, parlez-vous anglais? is really not that hard, is just a matter of courtesy. I once read somewhere that we should remember some words of wisdom from St. Ambrose: “when in Rome, do as the Romans do“. This should be the words to live by while traveling.

Somewhere behind the Louvre

Paris Metro

Here are  our Top 5 things to do in Paris: #5 Go up the Eiffel Tower. Some people say this is over rated and not worth it. I say it is worth to do at least once in a life time. You already spent a lot of money to come to Paris and you are going to leave without having a face to face encounter with its most famous symbol?

#4 Cathedral of Notre Dame. This church is simply amazing. It is over 700 years old and it took 200 years to complete.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

#3 Montmartre walk. Strolling in this charming neighborhood is refreshing. Don’t miss Sacré-Coeur Basilica, the Church of St. Pierre, Café de Deux Moulins and the Moulin Rouge. Don’t miss seeing Picasso’s and van Gogh’s apartments (or the door to their apartments).

Beautiful view of Paris from Montmartre

#2 Visit the Louvre Museum. Some people just go to see the Mona Lisa and leave. To me that’s a waste of time and money. The Louvre offers so much more. Don’t leave without seeing Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Virgin, Child and St. Anne painting.

The Louvre

#1 Have a crepe and a beer for dinner. Enjoy it with the best view of the Eiffel tower Paris has to offer while seating in a bench (or simply in the grass) in Champ de Mars or Trocadero.

View of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero

Also, no trip to France is complete without enjoying French cuisine...

Croque Madame

Crème brûlée

Porc chops and potatoes a la francaise

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