After talking about it and writing about it so much, and realizing I need many more digital photos for Paris with Scott, it is time to go again.
During this whole experience, I will write entries for every part of the process – planning, going and returning. It will be an example so that someone interested in doing the same thing can kind of see how one traveler (Scott, in particular) does it.
How the Process Begins
First, I talk with John A. and he agrees it is time to go again. We talk in general about a time of year to go. It is the height of summer right now and we are not going in the next month. So what about sometime in October or November? Cooler weather – a big bonus!
The fall is perfect because it is cooler. Any heat at all, and even in the cold, I sweat. It is not a problem at home because I can just keep showering, changing clothes and do all the laundry I need. But, out of the country, not so much. (These are important things to consider when planning a trip! Seriously, check out the Self-Assessment in So You Want to Go to Paris.) As a result, the fall is a great time to go again and the cooler the better for me.
Second, I want to include a weekend since I have a full-time j-o-b and I will have to take off work for some days. But, this will not be a two weekend and week in the middle trip. Only long enough to recharge on Paris, escape to the most beautiful city on the earth for a few days, and get some work done for this site! Five nights will be long enough to go again. Of course, I want to go for much longer. But, five nights will do.
Is the Calendar Open?
Now, I start looking at the calendar and marking out dates. I have to take into account the LSU football schedule. I would rather not miss the home games, so I have them all on the calendar already and it is easy to see what dates are not that great.
Then, there is Thanksgiving which kind of takes out the two weekends on either side. And, the trip should not be too close to Thanksgiving, because there is a lot going on then. But, I need a little time to make plans, so maybe middle to late October would be good.
Seems perfect for me, but then asked a few friends about going as well, and middle to late October didn’t really work for them. Then, I forgot a niece is coming in town then, and… there are too many obstacles. November is out for the friends as well. So, I skip December because that is already busy for me and move along to 2019!!!!! January could be the time.
To Go Again in Winter
January may not seem like a great time to go. But the cold and the potential rain and the limited daylight is fine with me. It is when I began six months of school there, so I think it is a great time. Honestly, any time of the year in Paris is perfect for me. A couple of friends say okay to January. And, unless your team is in the playoffs for the Super Bowl, and who knows about that, it seems like the month is wide open on the calendar.
Great, January it is! And, since the entire month is free, I start looking at airlines and hotels to see if I can find any differences in price. In other words, maybe a discounted rate on one weekend versus another. Also, I check some of the museums for any shows that may really entice me. And, I check the opera schedule to see if a performance is a must see for me.
First, stop and take stock when it is raining in Paris.Try to assess how much rain it is going to be. A whole day of rain? Or, only a brief shower? A deluge or a drizzle? If it is supposed to rain all day long, then you may want to adjust your schedule. If it is only a sprinkle, keep going full speed ahead with the day as planned.
Most importantly, take a deep breath and remember, rain is not the end of the world. It will not ruin your vacation. Paris does not close up when it rains. Open top bus tours still run – put on a poncho.
If it really is going to rain all day long, see if you can find some inexpensive waterproof shoes and take an umbrella and explore. Paris in a drizzle is one of my favorite times.The colors seem to become saturated on buildings, trees, park benches, grass, the cars….The gray clouds make ancient buildings even more enticing. The narrow streets in the Marais are even more inviting.
But, if it is raining and umbrellas are everywhere, avoid busy rush hour foot traffic.Eyes are a precious commodity that shouldn’t be poked with umbrella tips. Between 5:30-6:30 – to take a rest back at the hotel, or rejuvenate with coffee at a cafe.
The most logical place to go when it is raining in Paris is to visit a big museum – like the Louvre. A big museum has exhibits, shopping, food, and drink. And, it can be a good idea, depending on the time of year.But, everyone else is thinking the same thing.So the big museums will be mobbed with people trying to avoid the water. Besides traditional museums, here are a few suggestions for things to do in Paris when it is raining.
An Unusual Museum Visit
Weren’t thinking of the Musée de la Chasse et Nature?Well, a rainy day may change your mind.Pull out your guidebook and look up museums.Choose one or two that you never thought you would visit.Take a chance.The worst thing is that you go, take a look, leave and go back out into the rain.However, the upside is you may see something incredible, take in important architecture and history – and have fun – while dry.
Nearly 70 feet below the surface, Paris has an extensive network of underground passages that were once limestone quarries. From the late 1700s until the mid-1800s, millions of human bones were exhumed from cemeteries and moved into these subterranean quarries. Although the official website states that the “tour is unsuitable for people with heart or respiratory problems,” and “those of a nervous disposition and young children,” it is a dry place to explore an interesting part of Paris’ history. Les Catacombes de Paris: 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014; Métro: Denfert-Rochereau; Closed Mondays, check the website for more details.
Engineering wonders lurk beneath all cities, but Paris displays its sewers in grand style – in a museum, no less. When it is raining in Paris, take a tour through the tunnels that not only serve as sewers but also provide the passageways for internet and phone cables, tubes that run between post offices (like at the bank teller line) and pipes filled with drinking water. In the past, tourists were ferried through in boats and suspended carts. Now, admire the amazing workings on foot. The museum also boasts a gift shop! Musée des Égouts de Paris; Near the bridge, Pont de l’Alma, across the street from 93 quai d’Orsay, 75007; Métro: Alma-Marceau; or RER: Pont de l’Alma.
Watch a Movie
Parisians are devoted fans of cinema. As a result, movie theaters dot the city. Even the avenue des Champs-Élysées is full of movie theaters. Don’t look for a megaplex like you see in the suburbs. These movie houses will have a sign on the street advertising the current films. Once you pass the entrance, then you may find multiple theaters. Many American movies are shown at the theater with French subtitles. So, head in during a downpour and enjoy hearing your mother tongue.
Shopping at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps
These department stores feature MANY departments! For the dedicated shopper, when it is raining in Paris, it is a shopping day in Paris. If you do not find what you are looking for in one, walk down the street and look in the other one. Another bonus on a rainy day is that much of the sidewalk around the two behemoths are covered. So don’t fret too much about getting your packages wet. Also, both have amazing architecture inside and out plus full-service cafés for eating, resting and re-loading on caffeine and hot chocolate. Rest and retail therapy all under two roofs – barely a block away from each other.
Want to learn some basics, make pastries or cook a meal while in Paris? When it is raining may be a good time to do it. Many places offer cooking classes for real beginners as well as advanced cooks. A great part about taking a cooking class is that you get to eat what you cook! And, the classes are indoors. Start looking at options now so if it does rain, you can have a list ready to book online or ask the concierge to help you book on the day you want one.La Cuisine Paris (or The Paris Kitchen) gets rave reviews.Check it out here. https://lacuisineparis.com
Long Lunch at a Nice Restaurant
When it is raining in Paris, or scheduled to rain for a good chunk of mid-day, reserve a spot at a fancy restaurant. This is your chance to take advantage of the “down” time outdoors to relish a long lunch. All without feeling guilty about not doing other things. Enjoy the pampering and delicious foods at reduced lunchtime prices.
Visit Parapluies Simon When It Is Raining In Paris!
Forgot your umbrella? No worries. Make a special trip to Parapluies Simon and find a souvenir when it is raining in Paris. This umbrella store on Boulevard St. Michel in the 6th is full of specialty rain protectors and also takes custom orders. Find out more.
Yes, when it is raining in Paris, take a covered river cruise. It can be FUN in the rain. Even if it is pouring, you will stay dry, hear the pounding rain (no chance of hearing the tour guide on the loudspeaker), scream to hear each other and still be able to have some great views. Plus, it will be even more memorable because you will have a fun story to tell of taking the boat in the pouring rain.
And, Last But Not Least
A friend wrote and said, “After all, Paris is the most incredibly romantic city.” So, hang the “Do Not Disturb” (Ne Pas Déranger) sign on the doorknob outside your room and enjoy Paris in a very intimate way while the rain is falling on the window panes.
Many Parisian hotels are working toward green and sustainable goals. In order to reach those goals, and outwardly demonstrate their sustainability commitment, hotels will join a group of like-minded organizations that adhere to similar goals. These organizations provide check lists and confirmations that the hotel is meeting the outlined goals for sustainability.
When researching places to stay, look for sustainability designations by the Paris tourist office’s Charter for Sustainable Accommodation in Paris, Green Key, Green Globe, EarthCheck or the European Union Ecolabel.
Hotels in the Paris Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s Sustainability Program
The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau is encouraging Paris hotels to take a sustainable approach to operations through its program, “Sustainable Accommodation in Paris.” Through its workshops, check lists and audits, the bureau encourages environmental, social and societal sustainability.
Since 2012, 463 places providing accommodation have signed on to the program. The hotels use their best efforts to:
Promote sustainable development goals, whether in terms of in-house management or vis-à-vis everyone they have dealings with (transparency, ethics, compliance with laws, respect for human rights, etc.)
Reduce water and energy use
Reduce and recycle waste
Implement an eco-responsible purchasing policy
Make suppliers and staff aware of sustainability policies
Inform guests of sustainability goals and encourage guests to participate in green effort during their stay
Welcome guests with a disability (physical, sensory or mental) to the best possible conditions and offer them appropriate information on accessibility to tourism establishments and activities
Improve working conditions for staff, and their well being at work
Promote the natural and cultural heritage of the Paris region (~From Parisinfo.com)
How Can You Tell If A Parisian Hotel Is Green? Look for these Labels:
The Green Key award is the leading standard for excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry. This prestigious eco-label represents a commitment by businesses that their premises adhere to the strict criteria set by the Foundation for Environmental Education. A Green Key stands for the promise to its guests that by opting to stay with the Green Key establishment, they are helping to make a difference on an environmental level. The high environmental standards expected of these establishments are maintained through rigorous documentation and frequent audits. Green Key is eligible for hotels, hostels, small accommodations, campsites, holiday parks, conference centres, restaurants and attractions. ~From the Green Key website.
Green Globe is the global certification for sustainable tourism. Membership is reserved for companies and organizations who are committed to making positive contributions to people and planet. Green Globe’s International Standard for Sustainable Tourism was the first standard developed by and for the travel & tourism over 20 years ago. Today Green Globe’s Standard is recognized as the highest level of sustainability certification by leaders in green travel and responsible & eco tourism.
Green Globe Members commit to managing and operating their business and organizations to the highest level of sustainability. They are committed to benchmarking and managing the use of energy and water with the aim of reducing the use of these resources as well as promoting reuse and recycling of materials.
Green Globe members promote diversity and inclusiveness in their work force, while respecting local cultures and ensuring equitable relations and rewards for all. The members invest in protecting the culture and heritage of their host destination.
Members commit to act in accordance with local law and respect and promote global compacts promoting equality, health, welfare and human rights and prohibiting child exploitation. And, these fundamental achievements are managed through a sustainability plan targeting over 300 activities that are carried out at all levels of the company. ~Find out more at Green Globe.
Member companies are required to develop and document a policy for environmental and social sustainability for the entire organization based on: energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, potable water consumption, water savings, waste sent to landfill, waste recycling, community commitment, community contributions, paper products, cleaning products, pesticide products and corporate social responsibility. By meeting benchmarks set by the Earthcheck, a hotel or business can be certified as a member. Find out more at EarthCheck.org.
The European Union Ecolabel is found on products and services – such as accommodations – that respect the environment. Its criteria guarantee that a given product is fit for use, and that it will have a reduced environmental impact throughout its life cycle.
To qualify for the EU Ecolabel, products have to comply with a stringent set of criteria. These environmental criteria take the whole product life cycle into account – from the extraction of the raw materials, to production, packaging and transport, right through to your use and then your recycling bin. This life cycle approach guarantees that the products’ main environmental impacts are reduced in comparison to similar products on the market. ~From EU Ecolabel.
Take a look at this brochure outlining the meaning and showing how to put the EU Ecolabel to work.
Like many big cities, Paris is making a huge push to be “Green and Sustainable.” Those words are popular in today’s culture, but what do they mean for visitors to Paris? Following is a brief explanation for those who may be wondering.
What is “Green?”
“Green” has many different meanings to many different people. The general idea is to reduce human waste and consumption. It is also defined as being environmentally responsible (another term that means avoid damaging the planet).And, not to trivialize being green, but maybe it is simply the idea that humans stop working against nature and start working to help nature.
How is that done?Rather than doing things that hurt the planet or environment, do things that help. Work to reduce the human race’s effect on nature. In other words, try not to create a trash heap (read “mountain”) of your used plastic water bottles, plastic straws, aluminum cans, plastic bags, etc….Try to avoid using cleaners made with toxic substances that run off into the lakes, rivers and oceans.Try to eat foods grown with the least amount of antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides.All of these man-made creations go somewhere once they have been used. And, generally it harms someone or something else down the line.So, cut down on all of it in an effort to be green. Most importantly, see how small of a trash heap you can leave behind.
What is “Sustainable?”
“Sustainable” is another word with many different meanings to many different people. Overall, it is a huge concept with even more far-reaching and global goals.Those goals include focusing on renewable energy, treating workers and animals ethically and conserving natural resources such as water, land and fuel. “Green” seems like the manifestation of what individual humans can do to help “sustain” the planet.
Although Paris is the subject of this website, it helps to have some American references for understanding sustainability.The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that, “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”
You may also be surprised to know that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 committed the United States to sustainability. (Yes, that long ago.)The act declares it a national policy “to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”
What Does the World Say?
On the world stage, the United Nation’s 1987 “Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development:Our Common Future” notes that sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the well-being of future generations.(What were you doing in 1987 to promote the “well-being of future generations?”Using cans of ozone-depleting hairspray, driving 9-mile-to-the-gallon gas guzzlers and sucking down Big Gulps with long plastic straws?????I wasn’t using the hairspray, but count me in on gas-guzzlers and 7-Eleven straws.)
Ever broader definitions of sustainability continue to evolve in world politics. In 2000, the Earth Charter’s definition of sustainability changed to include the idea of a global society, “founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.”Yes, that was already 18 years ago.But, the ideals remain extremely relevant and seem to be more universally accepted.
As a Visitor What Does it Mean, Green and Sustainable Paris?
Paris promotes its commitment to sustainability by providing locals and visitors with green opportunities. Without knowing it, you may be accidentally participating in green and sustainable initiatives! But don’t stop at accidentally. You can actively choose green options while in Paris.
What is Paris Doing to be Green and Sustainable?
The following are a few examples of how Paris is doing its part to be green and sustainable.At their core, these efforts seek to raise awareness for respecting the environment. On top of raising awareness, they encourage participation.
Photo “Champs-Élysées sans voitures” by Ulamm licensed under CC 4.0
The first Sunday of each month is vehicle free on the avenue des Champs-Élysées. That’s right – no cars!This green and sustainable initiative began in May of 2016 and is an incredible success. Now locals and visitors can take advantage of a new way to experience the famous avenue – right in the middle of the pavement!
Along with leaving one avenue vehicle free each month, the entire city of Paris is vehicle free for one day each year. Except for emergencies, taxis, disabled access, open top tour buses and some other necessary vehicles, the whole city is pedestrian friendly for much of the day. Can you imagine a car-free day in your town?
Want to visit urban green spaces while visiting?The Paris City Council has joined in the effort to be green with an app!Paris Eco Walks is the city council’s downloadable app that leads followers through urban green spaces to see plants and animals. It is a “go at your own pace” tour that will work for anyone interested in finding green spaces throughout Paris.
(Photo from paris.fr)
Along with the many parks in Paris that are vehicle free and easy to enjoy, you may even see community gardens on public land. These shared gardens,jardins partagés, can be found throughout the city. Paris’ Green Hand Charter, Charte Main Verte, is an initiative allowing these community gardens.Citizens work in the gardens and share in the produce.Not surprisingly, the community gardens are extremely popular.As well as vegetables and herbs, in some of the gardens you may even see beekeepers tending their hives. In addition to community gardens, bees are kept throughout Paris. Even on the roofs of landmarks. The Opera Garner’s hives produce honey that is on sale in its gift shop – great souvenir!
(image from La Ferme de Paris twitter)
Another interesting initiative is the organic Paris Farm.This fully-functioning farm in the bois de Vincennes is an outstanding testament to the pride Parisians take in promoting green and sustainable agriculture.Its entire operation is dedicated to respecting the environment using sustainable food production methods.See French cows, pigs, poultry, sheep, horses and other livestock, plus local crops in their green and sustainable habitat. (Ferme de Paris, 1 Route du Pesage, 75012, open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays.)
Paris does not use pesticides in its city parks, gardens or cemeteries. All of those green spaces with blooming flowers and plants are kept without using pesticides. Additionally, pesticides are prohibited from being used on home terraces and roofs. Pretty amazing!
Paris even has a compost program for clippings and cuttings from gardens! It is part of a comprehensive plan for Paris to reduce all forms of trash being generated by the people in in the city – residents and visitors alike.
How Can I Be Green and Sustainable in Paris?
Try to be green and sustainable at the hotel, around town, at restaurants, at markets and in choices to get around the city. That are a lot of opportunities to be green. Even if you think making your whole trip green may be too much of a commitment, try making one day a “green day” in Paris! You’ll have bragging rights for helping Paris work toward sustainability!
At the Hotel and Around Town
Use soaps that are free of toxic ingredients
Recycle plastic, glass, paper and metal
Use the same towel during your stay rather than have the hotel wash it each day
Reuse one water bottle during your entire stay in Paris
At Restaurants and Markets
Choose locally grown products that are designated organic, free range or natural
When eating out or shopping for food, look for Fair Trade products (PFCE – Plate-forme pour le Commerce Equitable) – that means, among other things, the producers have safe working conditions, pay fair wages and are trying to avoid damaging the environment
Order appropriately – do not waste food
Eat organic foods – look for the “bio” designation on the menu or at markets
Getting Around with Less Environmental Impact
Fortunately, Paris is made for walking – a great way to be green
If you do not walk, try to take electric or hybrid taxis, ride a bike, or take the Metro
Paris is moving toward more efficient buses, so look for eco-friendly signs on buses
By taking even small steps, you can say, “I went to Paris and was GREEN!” Over 15 million people visit Paris each year. And, over 2 million people live in Paris. That many people have a huge impact on the environment in a relatively small space on the earth. Any steps you take to be green and sustainable while in Paris will help! Today, the visitor’s motto should be:Reduce, reuse and recycle.
Do you know if your hotel is committed to sustainability? Find out how to tell.
Just this past weekend I had an encounter that made me really remember what to do when you receive recommendations from someone – know your source! And, ask questions! I ran into a friend at a wine store this past Friday. It was terrific to see him. In fact, it was genuinely good to catch up. We have known each other a long time and he and his wife are extremely worldly. While I’m asking about his wife and children, he leans over toward the wine racks and grabs a bottle of wine.He holds it up and shoves it over toward me.Next he volunteers that it is a great bottle of white wine. But, better yet, he tells me what a great deal it is for the price. He pronounced the name with a French accent, making it sound really great.I was convinced that I had to try it! Never mind that I really don’t even like white wine. I listened to a friend, took the advice, bought the wine, got home and opened it up. After one taste, surprise, surprise, it is not to my liking.
Don’t ASSUME – Know the Source!
What was I thinking? I knew better! But, because I know the source and was friends with him, I assumed the wine would be good. I should have asked some questions, like, “Is it a dry white wine?” “Would you call it minerally?” “What about sweet?” Without asking questions, and without knowing whether the answers appealed to me, I took the advice of a friend.Wine is a definite personal preference kind of purchase. Just like what to see in Paris is a personal preference. Unlike one bottle of inexpensive wine, making choices in Paris is much more consequential. You may not be back.And you will have wasted precious time in the most beautiful city on earth. Friends, guidebooks, and online resources will have suggestions for what to do in Paris.Of course, some things in Paris are “must sees.” But beyond those, who cares what someone else likes if you aren’t interested in it? Don’t assume that if your friend likes it, you will like it.And, rather than fall for the flashy, descriptive and well-advertised, take a step back and ask yourself, “What do I like?” “What is going to make me happy?” “What do I want to see and learn about?”
It Is Your Trip
You are the one spending the money and taking the time off work to see Paris. Figure out what makes you happy – historic buildings, shopping, monuments, museums of paintings, sculptures, gardens, walking the streets, or maybe it is watching movies in the hotel room. Then, take a look at, or a listen to, recommendations and suggestions.Understand and know your source.Next, ask questions.Then, really listen to the answers.After that, determine if the suggestion fits in with what you like to do. Everything is available in Paris.So, don’t fret about lack of choices. Just make sure it is what you want to do. Want to know where PariswithScott is coming from? Take a look here and feel free to ask as many questions as you like.
Bastille Day and the World Cup final collide on the weekend of July 14, 2018! On Saturday, France will celebrate Bastille Day. Then on Sunday, France battles Croatia for the World Cup.
What is Bastille Day?
For those of us celebrating Bastille Day, and for those who want to know more about it, here is a short description. Bastille Day, in French “la Fête Nationale ” or “le 14 juillet,” is an annual national public holiday. It celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789. Because there were only a few prisoners there at the time, the storming was mostly symbolic. However, this was the start of the overthrow of Louis XVI’s regime and the beginning of the Republic of France. That means it is a big event for all the non-royalists in France.
During the years of the revolution, the prison was completely torn apart and never rebuilt. The site of the Bastille prison is now the Place de la Bastille. At its center is the July Column (“Colonne de Juillet”). Rather than commemorating the storming of the Bastille, this column recognizes those who fought in the revolution of July, 1830.
A little confusing, but taken together, the square and the column honor and remember commoners who fought for freedom from oppression. Atop the July Column is Auguste Dumont’s gilded statue, “Génie de la Liberté,” or Spirit of Freedom. Appropriate, don’t you think? Another place to see and feel some of the intensity of the emotions of the people is in the Louvre. Take a look at Delacroix’s moving painting, “Liberty Leading the People.” Delacroix used the July Revolution for his inspiration.
Bastille Day Celebrations
Arc de Triomphe with Tricolore
Along with the landmarks commemorating the revolutions, Bastille Day is a celebration of freedom. It is much like our Independence Day. In Paris, a gigantic French flag, or “tricolore,” is flown within the grand arch of the Arc de Triomphe. The French military parades down the avenue des Champs- Élysées. Mounted cavalry, foot soldiers, regimental bands and officers in vehicles follow each other in one of the oldest annual military parades. French air force planes will fly overhead. And, people will generally make merry and enjoy the show put on for them.
Like our own July 4 celebrations, Bastille Day in France features fireworks lighting up the night sky, neighborhoods having street parties and families and friends gathering for traditional French meals. On the Champs-de-Mars, a concert will entertain thousands. And across the whole country, the Marseillaise, or the French National Anthem, will play over the radio waves and bands will perform it repeatedly.
As a visitor, the festivities can be a lot of fun. But do not expect many shops, museums or restaurants to be open. This includes the Eiffel Tower which was built as a landmark celebrating the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. It will be closed in preparation of a grand fireworks display.
Around the World
Many places around the globe celebrate French heritage on Bastille Day. Among other more significant events, restaurants have special dinners and wine-pairings, people fly French flags, and, in New Orleans, waiters participate in races in the French Quarter. All in good fun celebrating Bastille Day!
For the World Cup, we hope there will be even more celebration in the French capital!
What does your community do to celebrate Bastille Day?
My goal is to inspire you to enjoy the Paris of your dreams. If you are trying to take your first trip to Paris, or if you want to go without an organized tour group, then this blog is for you. If this kind of travel experience is what you are after, follow me and revel in all things Paris.
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