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What To Do When It Is Raining in Paris

What To Do When It Is Raining in Paris

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.

Catacombs

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.

Sewer Museum

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.

Cooking Class

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!

parapluies simon

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.

River Cruise

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.

How To Tell If A Parisian Hotel Is Green

How To Tell If A Parisian Hotel Is Green

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:

Green Key

Green Key Sustainability

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

 

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.

EarthCheck

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.

European Ecolabel

 

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.

Are you interested in how Paris got so many Green Spaces? Read more here.

Green and Sustainable Paris

Green and Sustainable Paris

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.

Vehicle-Free Days

Car-Free Champs-Élysées Green and Sustainable

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?

Urban Oases

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.

Community Gardens

green and sustainable community garden

(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!

Farm Life

Paris Farm Icon

(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.)

Pesticide-Free Paris

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!

Compost-a-Way

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.

green globe reduce, reuse, recycle

Know Your Source.  But Also Ask Questions

Know Your Source.  But Also Ask Questions

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.
13 Suggestions for Saving Money and Time in Paris

13 Suggestions for Saving Money and Time in Paris

Nearly any search on tips for trips to Paris will come up with a few suggestions for saving money and time.

Who doesn’t want to save on these?  Nearly everyone wants common sense advise.  And, a few of the good suggestions that will stretch your dollars and provide more time bear repeating here.

1.  Plan in Advance

Planning is crucial.  From what you want to see to what times to visit that museum or landmark, having a plan will maximize your time in Paris.  Before buying a plane ticket, read as much as possible to make your Paris List.

Don’t waste time in Paris trying to figure out what you want to do.  Even if I change my mind while I am there, I always make a plan.  The last thing I want to do is sit at the hotel for an hour wondering, “What should I do today?”  That is a waste of precious time.

2.  Keep the Name of Your Hotel in Your Satchel

Remember to keep your hotel’s name, address and telephone number in your satchel.  Wandering off and forgetting where you are staying is kind of a big deal.  And, this is not a joke!  I have had people tell me they did this!!!!  Not a fun experience and definitely not a good use of time.

3.  Paris is Huge

Be aware that Paris is a big city!  It will take longer than you anticipate getting from one place to another.  So, put some travel time into your plans.  Also, if possible, group things to do geographically so you do not have to spend time going back and forth across the city all day.

4.  Order a Carafe d’Eau

In cafés and restaurants, rather than ordering bottled water, request a carafe d’eau (kah-rahf-doe).  A carafe d’eau is a bottle of Parisian tap water.  Some restaurants even have taps that carbonate the water so you can choose bubbly or still water in your carafe d’eau!

Parisian water is good and available throughout the city.  You will find no reason to buy bottled water that can be quite expensive.  The Parisian tap water is an especially good deal if you are like me and drink a lot of water.

After you order the carafe d’eau, the waiter will bring over the bottle, provide a glass and maybe fill it up the first time.  Then you are free to pour as much as you want.  Order another if you are really thirsty.  Want a cost comparison?  Add up the 4 or 5 euros (or more) for bottled water at a few meals and you will have saved enough for another meal or two out!

Carafe d'eau

Carafe d’eau sitting on a satisfying table mid meal. Save $ on water, order a carafe d’eau!

5.  Fill Up

Another way to take advantage of Parisian water is to fill up an empty water bottle before leaving the hotel each day.  Pop it in your satchel for the day out.

Then, when you run low, refill the bottle at the beautiful green fountains that can be found around the city.  They provide drinking water for everyone.  You can also find other fountains in town.  Just make sure they have a sign with the words, “eau potable” and feel free to fill up.

Paris water fountain

Paris water fountain – sorry, a little blurry. Fill up!

6.  Museum Pass or Individual Tickets?

Really analyze what tickets you must have for museums or landmarks you have on your Paris List.  Then, compare the price of the pass (and the number of days it is valid) with the price of purchasing individual tickets.

If you only want to visit one museum, the museum pass is probably a waste of money.  Purchase an individual ticket at the time you visit your only museum.

On the other hand, if you are a museum lover, a museum pass is probably the only way that makes sense.

Some people have very specific paintings or sculptures at museums that they want to see.  Maybe only one per museum.  But, if it is twenty things at twenty different museums, a museum pass is in order.  Dart in, visit the masterpiece or little known object that is a must for you.  Then, skip out without feeling any guilt about buying an expensive ticket to see one thing.

If you analyze your plan and are on the fence, think about the museum pass as a time saver.  It may be worth it to buy a pass because then you do not have to wait in line to buy a individual ticket at each museum or landmark.

Be aware that many special exhibitions will have tickets that must be purchased in advance.

7.  Meal Time Specials

Throughout Paris, restaurants at lunch and dinner offer “prix fixe” menus.  Prix fixe (pre-fix) menus are a budget friendly way to dine in style and taste a variety of flavors.  Choose this menu option at a “fixed price” and enjoy multiple courses at a reduced price.

Restaurants may also offer a “plat du jour.”  Plat du jour (plah-dew-zhore) is the daily special.  Check them out.  You may find a pleasant surprise waiting for you at a special rate.

Although not as commonly used, you could also see these menus advertised as “table d’hôte.

8.  Fine Dining at Lunch

This one is so often repeated, but definitely true.  Is there an expensive restaurant that you really want to try but it is out of your budget?  Think about going for lunch.  Lunch is a great deal at many expensive restaurants.  You have the same restaurant, same food, but a lower price.

When planning your day, don’t think of having lunch at a fancy restaurant as giving up the ability to visit a great museum or landmark.  Choose a day for your extravagant lunch that is the same day that a museum or landmark that you really want to visit stays open late.  Then, you can have a big lunch.  Sight see in the afternoon.  Have a baguette sandwich or something else light for dinner.  And spend the evening at another definite on your Paris List.

9.  Data Usage on Your Phone

Only use data on your telephone when you are connected to wifi.  Seems like an easy enough idea, but remember to change the settings to keep it from eating up data.  Your hotel will likely have wifi.  And, many cafés and museums will have free wifi as well.  Turning the data off actually has two purposes.  One, you get to keep the cost down while at the same time keeping in contact.  And, two, being unconnected allows you to focus on Paris and not the phone.

cellular data

Turn cellular data off while away from wifi.

10.  Do Not Tip Unnecessarily

This does not mean abandon civility and forget to be appreciative!  Rather, it means that waiters are paid for their service (or, the tip) in the price of sit down meals.  Our ideas of tipping on the full amount of the bill is not necessary.

At most restaurants, round up the bill to the next full euro and leave the change on the money tray.  If you really enjoyed the service, leave a couple of euros.

For Michelin-starred restaurants, and other really fine dining establishments, consider 5-10% of the bill as a way to show your appreciation for good service.

After a good taxi ride, round up to the next euro for your driver’s tip.

Personal tour guides should also be rewarded for a good job.

11.  Is Breakfast Included in the Price of Your Hotel Room?

If not, then you may want to walk to the neighborhood boulangerie.  Practice your French, or sign language, and enjoy a fresh pain au chocolat or croissant for breakfast.  Or, sidle up to the bar at the closest café, order un café and a croissant and spend less than 5 euros.  Heck, go crazy and order a double café to get you going!

But, if you do not eat breakfast, or only want to run down to the boulangerie for a croissant in the morning, do not buy the breakfast that the hotel offers.  Most likely it will be an expense that you can avoid.

12.  Time Saver, Not Necessarily a Money Saver

No matter how much time you have in Paris, it will go by quickly.  So, consider carefully where you are staying.  Maybe trade off a little luxury for being closer in to the city center.  That way you can walk, catch the hop on hop off or take a taxi to a monument or museum you want to see.

13.  Not a Time Saver Nor a Money Saver

Try to choose off times to visit places of interest.  Even if you can do this at a few places, you will enjoy a shorter line and fewer people.  For example, late hours at the museum.  Or, rise and shine and be in line when the landmark opens.  It will not save time or money, but it could save some of your sanity.

Plus One More

Want wine with dinner?  Order a “carafe du vin rouge” (carafe of red wine) or “carafe du vin blanc” (carafe of white wine).  Usually, the house wines at restaurants are completely fine.  Plus, it will be reasonably priced.  Don’t get nervous if they give you a choice in centiliters.  They use the metric system, so go big, or choose the small amount and order again if you would like more.

Passport Renewal

Passport Renewal

Well, that time comes around every so often when one needs a passport renewal.  Yes, it takes 10 years for it to come around.  But, it always seems to be at the most inopportune time.  Like, when you are ready to take a trip!!!

Schedule Your Passport Renewal

Yesterday, the alarm on the mobile phone sounded and a note reminded me, “renew passport.”  I have no idea when I set that alarm, but probably one day when I was wondering when my passport expired.  I must have found the passport in my chest of drawers and checked the expiration.  Then, trying to be a prepared traveler, I set the alarm several months before the expiration.

Even though my passport does not expire until September, the U.S. Department of State recommends renewing a passport 9 months before it expires.  This is one thing all current passport holders should note.  I do not have any international flights planned (I’m sorry to say) so I decided I should do as my alarm instructed and renew.

Visit the Department of State

Since it had been 10 years since the last renewal, I didn’t really remember what to do.  And, I did not want to go wait in line at the post office to find out, so I searched the internet.  The U.S. Department of State has a great website for renewing passport holders and new applicants.

The site provides direct and easy-to-read instructions for renewing.  To renew, 4 things must be sent in:  completed application, passport photo, payment and the recent passport.  On the website, the renewal application is available to print and complete by hand.  Or it can be completed online with the Passport Application Wizard.  I chose online.  With my old passport in hand, it could not have been easier.  I printed out the application, wrote a check, paper-clipped the passport with those two and only needed a passport photo.

Passport Photo

Well, that was the problem.  Did I go to a place to have one made?  Or, try to take selfie and print it at the office on photo paper and in color.  I tried the selfie.  My arms were not long enough to hold the camera far enough away to make my head fit in the size required on the application.

I had to have a friend take my photo at various distances from my face while I stood against an off-white wall.  After printing 4 of the photos, I measured my head in each one and finally found one that would work.  Soon, I had another problem.

Passport photos need to be 2″ x 2″.  I could measure with a ruler, but thought there must be a 2″ x 2″ square if I search the internet.  Sure enough, I found a whole page of templates for 2″ x 2″.  Next, I printed those, cut one out, placed it over my face and cut around the edges.  I pulled the ruler out again, measured – I cut too much off!!!  It was too small.

After trying again, the print and scissor work seems to have paid off.  Granted, I am not very technically savvy, so your efforts could be rewarded much more quickly.  But, I stapled it to the application and took everything to the post office and mailed it off.  Passport renewal in progress!

Routine or Expedited

Because I do not have any travel plans in the near future, I chose routine processing.  Of course, there are instances where someone needs to renew a passport quickly.  The site has detailed instructions on how to request expedited service by mail (2-3 weeks) and in person (8 business days).  The 8 business day option is only if you have an airline or cruise ticket proving you are traveling within 2 weeks or have an emergency.  These expedited services have a special fee in addition to the renewal fee.

As long as a new passport is returned, I will stick with my assessment that this must be one of the easiest things to do with the government.  If my application is returned because of my homemade photo, I will let you know.

Even if you have trouble, the site offers help!  “If you have questions about passports, please contact the National Passport Information Center.”

Need to apply for your first passport?  Go to the Department of State’s website to find out how.

UPDATE!

I mailed my renewal on May 16.  And, on May 31, guess what arrived in the mail?  New passport good for the next 10 years!  Passport renewal success!

I’m ready for Paris anytime!  I could even make new itineraries if the 5 and 10 day are not enough!

Passport envelope and brochure